Archive for ‘Resources’

February 16, 2011

You Are More

This song hit me today as I was driving into the office. How often do you and I know the right answers or deviate from the “right” path only to be faced with doubt, fear, and confusion on where we are going? There is hope. We have been remade. We are redeemed from our past choices, our intentional mistakes, rebellion, etc. We are more.

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,

You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

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January 24, 2011

In the Secret, Quiet Places

By now, you know I’ve been re-reading Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years And Yours. I highly recommend it. Chole’s writings were honest and encouraging to those who find themselves in life’s transitions, unexpected times when we’re called back into the shadows, or find ourselves fighting to emerge from the bench and set up to bat.

What I’ve come to realize is sometime it’s in the hidden, quiet years that we grow the most. Our character is refined in the quiet, anonymous places. It is in these times that we are shaped for the future. If we wait to embrace the life’s lessons in the public, applauded times we will miss all God has in store for us – and it is a beautiful, difficult journey – but worth it. If we don’t use these anonymous seasons to grow and be still in the presence of God, we are left unprepared for our time in the lime-light leaving us in the wake of destruction.

The following are a collection of quotes I gathered throughout Chole’s book. I hope you consider reading it. (Also, a disclaimer that I am not being compensated for this review.)

“From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative; to be rested in, not rushed through – and most definitely never to be regretted. Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.” P. 13

“In other words, trials tell us less about our future than they do about our past. Why? Because the decisions we make in difficult places today are greatly the product of decisions we made in the unseen places of our yesterdays.” P. 15

“Time is not really spent. Instead, it is invested in a future we cannot see.” P. 59

“By definition, hidden years are uncelebrated years. These are the seasons when we feel underestimated, unappreciated, or even invisible. In other words, no one is clapping. In that silence unsupported by rounds of applause, hidden years provide the opportunity for us to wrestle with what truly makes us significant. In the absence of others volunteering to explain why we are so valuable, we have to answer that question for ourselves. This quest can be especially difficult when it is not anticipated, when we have known applause and perhaps even authority and find ourselves hidden again. Rarely does hiddeness visit us only once in our lifetimes.” P. 114

Finally, I loved how Chloe took readers through key aspects of what we can glean from our hidden years. I know I’ve experienced many of these points in my own life and hope to grow in them even more as I use the time given to me today to invest in the future I cannot see.

What grows in anonymous seasons?

  • The anchor of God’s Word in our souls
  • Self control
  • An accurate portrait of God
  • An unshakable identity
  • Our trust in God’s timing
  • A disciplined imagination
  • An eternal perspective
  • Submission-based authority

How have you seen God work in anonymous seasons? Have you noticed a gentle change in your heart or character through the times when you felt like you were in the shadows?

 

January 3, 2011

Top 5 Blog Posts From 2010

2010 was an interesting year – full of unexpected and expected blessings and challenges. As I spend time thinking about what 2011 will hold, Philippians 1:6 keeps coming to mind. This verse reads, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” While the year ahead is quite hazy at this point, I am confident that God will show up and continue the work He has begun. Each January I am refreshed and excited by the promise of a new year and encouraged by the numerous opportunities to try again or to create a blank slate. So as I take a moment to think about the year ahead (I hope you have a chance to do the same), I will leave you with my top 5 favorite posts from the last year.

Thanks for reading and for all your encouragement as I’ve embarked on this new blogging journey. I’m excited to see how this silly little blog of mine will be used in the next year. It is my hope that it can be a source of encouragement and honesty.

And in no particular order, here they are…

  1. Praying the Impossible
  2. From The Desert, With Love
  3. On Faithfulness, Glory, and God’s Character
  4. The Blessing of Friendship
  5. Choosing Joy
December 5, 2010

Refuel, Energize, and Inspire

In a previous career life I had the opportunity to be exposed to great Christian resources. Some might benefit you in your ministry or personal spiritual journey. Here are just a few of my favorites. Visit. Explore. Refresh.

Personal Life

Boundless Webzine – A ministry of Focus on the Family for young adults. Read articles on a wide range of topics from relationships to career to theology.

Relevant Magazine – You may have heard of the magazine but explore the website for additional articles not found in print. Up for another challenge? Sign up for the “Deeper Walk” devotional emails.

Christianity Today – Browse the main website for articles and inspiration. Explore sister websites for ministry help, training and more.

Christianaudio.com – Podcasts, audio books, sermons and more to help you grow.

Ministry Life

SmallGroups.com – Find help and inspiration to create life-changing small groups.

UniqueComformity.com – Check out this new resource dedicated to make disciples and remove financial obstacles to ministry.

Kyria.com – A resource for women on topics from marriage and family to spiritual formation.

SermonSpice.com – Get loops, backgrounds, countdown, video illustrations for church services, outreach events, and general ministry use.

Know of other great resources? Let me know. I would love to feature quality Christian resources to help others grow in faith, live out the Gospel, and rejuvenate their souls (books, websites, ministry, music etc).

 

December 1, 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

It’s officially December and the Christmas season is here. Before we get too far ahead I wanted to share with you a compelling message I heard on the radio the other morning. I tuned in to hear about the Advent Conspiracy. This ministry challenges us to look at how we spend Christmas. Jesus came with a message of hope and love. How did we get so wrapped up in the commercialism of Christmas? What if we spent less time buying gifts (often out of obligation) and spent time with each other? What if we used that time and money to help someone in need? Think of what would happen if we all just bought ONE less gift? Just one. I think we would all be amazed by what could be done with the extra time and resources.

And, what about our time? Doesn’t it mean more to give the gift of time to our loved ones rather than a wrapped package with a pretty bow? One story I heard told of a man who bought his father a pound of coffee beans for Christmas. But the coffee beans weren’t really the gift. It was the note attached. The note told his father that he wasn’t allowed to use the coffee unless the son was there to drink it with him. Over the many cups of coffee, the son wanted to hear his father’s life stories and how he grew into the man he is today.The son spent less money on the gift but it meant more because of the time invested in it.  Now that’s a gift I’d like to get!

This Christmas consider giving the gift of your presence not your presents. Visit the website for more information: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/


October 29, 2010

The Reckoning

A friend of mine played ‘The Reckoning’ by Andrew Peterson at church a few weeks ago. I found it absolutely beautiful. I love the honesty of Peterson’s lyrics. Song lyrics often can express the feelings of our hearts when words fail – just look at the book of Psalms! Peterson’s song touches on trial, justice and waiting on the Lord. His honest cries are moving. It serves as a great reminder that in our waiting and struggle, we can cry out to God.  After all, he already knows what we’re thinking or feeling.  Why not admit it? In reality, God wants us to run to him. We may know that our situation will pass in time or that a particular trial is meant for our good but this does not negate our struggle and pain. We long for justice in our corrupt world. We yearn to know where God will direct us next. In all of these questions we must continue to run to Him with the honest condition of our hearts.

The Reckoning by Andrew Peterson

I can see the storm descending on the hill tonight
Tall trees are bending to your will tonight
Let the mighty bow down
At the thundering sound of your voice

I can hear the howling wind and feel the rain tonight
Every drop a prophet in your name tonight
And the words that they sing
They are washing me clean, but

How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but how long?

You are holiness and grace
You are fury and rest
You are anger and love
You curse and you bless
You are mighty and weak
You are silence and song
You are plain as the day,
But you have hidden your face–
For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning
The storm is past and rest is beckoning
Mighty God, how I fear you
How I long to be near you, O Lord

How long until the burden is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?
And I know that I don’t know what I’m asking
But I long to look you full in the face
I am ready for the reckoning


 

October 20, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

Learning the story behind this classic hymn has given it new meaning.  Horatio Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” after enduring numerous trials. His only son died 1871 at the age of four. Spafford and his family then survived the Great Chicago Fire which left them financially ruined. The family then planned to travel to Europe. Spafford was delayed on business related to the Great Chicago Fire and sent his family ahead. Tragically the ship his family was on sank after colliding with a sailing vessel. All four of his daughters died. His wife sent him a telegraph that read, “saved alone.” As Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he wrote this infamous hymn.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

October 11, 2010

Recommended Reading

Recently I’ve been reconnecting with one of my old loves – reading. Here are few books that in my opinion are worth a read.  I’m always seeking recommendations.  Let me know if you know of a book that has influenced or challenged you.

Embracing the Love of God – by James Bryan Smith

This short book is a great challenge for readers to apply the understanding of God’s acceptance. God chose to love us before we even drew a breath – and He chose to love us with full knowledge of all our right and wrong choices in life. His love is a gift.  There is nothing we did to qualify for it nor is there anything we can do to lose it. Smith challenges readers to rest in God’s love as well as God’s forgiveness and then to properly take care of ourselves as well as each other. Smith writes with such honesty, openness and passion I found myself underlining and commenting all over my book. This book has been a catalyst to change my view of God’s loving nature. It is a sweet reminder to those walking with the Lord for many years or a deeper look for those newer to the faith.

Faith and Doubt – by John Ortberg

I find Ortberg’s honesty in his book, Faith and Doubt, refreshing and inspiring. Ortberg suggests that a certain degree of doubt is healthy for our faith. We learn to rely on God in our times of doubt and can draw closer to Him as we seek to understand His character. One of my favorite quotes from this book is “letting go is an act of trust.” In order to receive what God has for us, we often have to let go of the known in order to receive an unknown blessing. This requires an act of faith and trust when we can be tempted to give into fears. Our lives are often lived somewhere in the middle of faith and doubt.

Loving God With All Your Heart – by Elizabeth George

The foundation for George’s book is built upon six key Scripture passages. Her ability to connect with readers by sharing her own struggles and life stories is inspiring. She is able to illustrate how to clearly live out these key passages in her writing. I was profoundly moved by George’s writing on Philippians 4:8 and training our thoughts to follow what is true. George also writes on Matthew 6:34 (winning over worry), Philippians 3:13-14 (pressing on for the prize), Romans 8:28 (counting on God’s goodness), Jeremiah  29:11 (living out God’s plan), and Romans 11:33 (accepting the unacceptable). Thank you to my dear friend who recommended this book!

 

September 16, 2010

Worthwhile Podcasts

In an age of where we can easily download and go, why not download some encouraging and challenging podcasts? Here are few that are, in my opinion, worth a listen.  Know of more? Leave a suggestion.

The Village Church – Based in Texas, pastor Matt Chandler regularly challenges with the truth of God’s word in a frank and honest manner. These hour-long sermons will leave you with an abundance of applications to mull over throughout the week. This is definitely one of my favorites.

In Touch Ministries by Dr. Charles Stanley – This podcast brings me back to my spiritual roots. Dr. Stanley has been preaching the truth of the Gospel for years. I frequently find myself frantically scribbling down notes as I listen to the truth found in his sermons.

Walk in the Word with James MacDonald – James’ short (approximately 30 minutes) program serves as a great reminder to continue to walk in light of God’s word throughout the week.

New Beginnings with Greg Laurie – I found Greg’s podcasts years ago and now I’m excited he is coming to the Chicago area and hosting a crusade! Greg tragically lost his son a few years ago and you can feel the honesty in his sermons. He often integrates difficulties from his own life and inspires listeners to keep pressing on despite the difficulties and hardships in their lives. Greg presents the truth of God’s word in a bold and compelling manner.

Focus on the Family Daily Radio Broadcast – Not in the mood for sermon per se? Choose from a selection of podcasts from Focus on the Family’s Daily Radio Broadcast. You don’t have to be raising a family to benefit from the wide range of topics covered on this broadcast. Find interviews with authors, public figures, encouragement from those who have walked through some great difficulties.

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