Brandon and I went away for a night at a little country inn courtesy of a gift from dear friends. Upon arriving, we explored the quaint property, and found our room for the night (which had a fun private staircase to enter). As we sat in our room later that night while playing a game of Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom, a thought crossed my mind: God is with us, right here and now. But God is also downstairs at the front desk. He is present at the restaurant, several hundred feet away, and everything in this dainty room is the work of His hands.
A similar thought crossed my mind the next day as we drove home and passed an overlook of Bethlehem City in Pennsylvania. This time I thought about how God is sovereign over the city, how small it is in comparison to the majesty of God, but how tiny I am when I walk down Main Street.
"O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?"
The work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars, as if poetically He painted them in the sky. I'm amazed and left in awe every time I think through God's creative ability. Things that I could only dream of creating or would take years for me to create (like a novel) would take God less than a second. With a word He spoke the earth into being, and everything is a result of His workmanship.
I am also His handiwork, made in His image and with such particular care. Who am I that God is mindful of me and cares for me? These are just some of the things that I've been thinking about over the past few days, pondering the works of God's fingers.
The Amazon link to the game mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
Ten days into 2017, and already well-considered and prayed over goals are becoming a struggle to maintain and achieve. I'm reminded lately of Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain."
There are many goals and resolutions that I could focus on and many ways that I would like to grow over this year, but there is one way that I know for sure that the Lord wants me to grow. He wants me (and you) to love Him with everything and to love my neighbors as myself (Mark 12:30-31). This is my prayer for 2017, that the Lord's will would be greater than my own...
Heavenly Father, help me to love you with all of
my heart and with all of my soul and with all of my
mind and with all of my strength, and help me to love my neighbor as myself. Even though I will fail in these ways in this life, help me to focus on Jesus and remember Your grace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
My goal is to pray this everyday over this next year. Feel free to use this prayer or to write your own for this New Year.
Christmas is a time to reflect upon the person of Jesus, and the joy of having the Son of God come to earth in human form to save broken humanity. This time of reflection upon Jesus always leads me to reflect upon the previous year: what I've learned, what I'm learning, and what books I've read.
Every year, I challenge myself to read a certain number of books, like Tim Challie's Christian Reading Challenge. The goal for 2016 was to read 24 books (two per month). With the number of life changes this past year, I didn't quite reach that goal, but I did read a number of excellent and recommendable books.
If you're looking for great books to read over this next year, you might consider buying or borrowing one of these books.
Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller
If you want to be in awe of the love of Jesus and grow in loving Jesus and loving others in response, this is a great book for you! Paul Miller's writing is very practical and helpful in learning how to love like Jesus.
You can read my more in depth review from earlier this year: Love Walked Among Us
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
I recently shared a review of this book (There Are None Like Him), but if I could give this book away to all of my friends, I would! The strength of this book is that it takes things that we learn about God's character from Scripture and offers up how that characteristic is diferent from us. I was left in awe of God after reading this book.
Prayer by Tim Keller
I haven't read a lot of books on prayer, other then A Praying Life, this is one book I would recommend for those that want to deepen their prayer life and their relationship with God. Keller goes into the theology of prayer, takes a look at what theologians have used to aid their prayer life, and different ways of praying. While A Praying Life gave me a desire to pray more, this book gave great practicals in different ways to pray and why we should pray.
Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman
I've followed Emily P. Freeman's blog for years, but never read one of her books until this past summer. This book encouraged me in a season of life when small-moment living didn't feel like it was Kingdom building. In a season when serving Jesus looked like making a PBJ for my husband, it was encouraging to be reminded that God's Kingdom is not about flashly and extravagant things and moments, but about small-moments lived for God's glory.
Habits of Grace by David Mathis
I just finished this book, but I would recommend it to anyone looking to grow in grace and in their relationship with Jesus. We are saved by God's grace, and we grow more like Jesus by God's grace, but there are things that we can do to put us on the path to God's grace. Mathis writes that the three primary ways are through "having God's ear, hearing God's voice, and belonging to His body." Basically, we can put ourselves on the path of grace by spending time in God's Word, praying, and being a part of the local church and fellowship of believers.
If you struggle with any of the spiritual disciplines (i.e. spending time reading Scripture, prayer, or fellowship), this is an encouraging and grace-focused read.
If you're looking for a recommended read for 2017, look no further!
What are the best books you've read in 2016?
The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
I'm learning that the greatest thing I can do with my time is love God and find ways to love my neighbor. The heart of what I write and share is to love others. I pray that these curated finds bless you on the journey.
For those of us that are thinking through resolutions for the New Year: One Big Tip to Make Your Resolutions Stick.
For those of us that are looking to grow over this next year: Here I Raise my Ebenezer: How This Discipline Buoyed My 2016.
For those of us wanting to grow in self-control and avoid distraction: Lord, Deliver Me From Distraction
For those of us that struggle with giving up our preferences to count others as more significant: Lay Aside the Weight of Selfishness
For those of us that want to grow in God's grace and enjoy Jesus more (one of the best books I read this year): Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.
For those of us that want to know how to love God more: FLASHBACK: Loving God
Note: The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
These days, I wake up and the first thing I think about is the list of things that I need to accomplish for the day. A number of questions rush through my head. Are the clothes clean? Do I need to run to the grocery store? What do I need to do before going to campus for the day? My head is filled with a list of things to do before I've even gotten out of bed.
My mind mulls over these things in the shower, and as I make Brandon and I breakfast, tasks are added to my phone. By the time I sit down to spend time reading Scripture and in prayer, a question arises in my heart: should I just spend time in God's Word later in the day and begin to tackle the day's tasks?
Sound familiar? My guess is that I'm not the only person that struggles with this question and another way of wording it is this: how can I make time to know and love God when I'm too busy and anxious about many things?
As I've wrestled through this morning after morning, I'm reminded of another woman that shared the same struggle. Her name was Martha, and you might know of her...
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
I remember the first time I heard a sermon on this story of Scripture. My heart whispered, "You're such a Martha!" And I am. I'm just like Martha. I am often anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary and that's spending time at Jesus' feet. Jesus himself says that it is the good portion and one necessary thing.
When I think about necessary things in life, I often think back to what my college Psychology textbook said were the necessary elements for life: food, shelter, clothes, and security. Jesus says something completely different. He says that there is one necessary thing and that Mary chose the good thing. We can interpret from the text that the good thing Mary chose was sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to his teaching.
Martha, on the other hand, was distracted with much serving. Serving isn't a bad thing, but Martha was anxious and troubled by many things, and she clearly wanted Mary to help her and felt as if Mary should help her. But Jesus does an amazing thing. He does not respond to Martha in the way that I would, "Yeah Martha! You're doing so much work and Mary's just sitting. She should help you!"
However, Jesus responds that Mary has actually chosen the good portion - the best thing - the one thing that is necessary - time at her Lord's feet to listen to his teaching.
I needed to read this Scripture the morning that I did. I was anxious and nervous about many things on my to-do list. As I questioned whether time with Jesus in the morning was worth it, Jesus himself reminded me from the Word that time with him is the one necessary thing and it's the best thing I could do with my morning.
How about for you, my friends? Do you find yourself struggling to spend time at the feet of Jesus? Are you putting off time in the Scriptures for when you're less busy or when it's more convenient? If that's the case, let me encourage you as a fellow struggler that Jesus has the same words for us that he had for Martha. We are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is neccessary.
The best thing and the only necessary thing is spending time at the feet of our Lord and listening to his teaching. May we, like Mary, choose the better portion and know that it will not be taken away from us.
Have you ever thought about how God is different from you? If you're like me, you've recognized that there is a sure-fire difference between your finite, messy, and limited self and an infinite God, but have you ever taken time to think about the specific ways that God is different from you and been left in awe of His glory? Whether your answer is yes or no, I want to share a book with you that will make you think about these things.
When a book comes across my path that broadens my understanding of God through His Word, I can't help but share about it and recommend it to others. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin is one such book. If I could encourage you to read one book this year, other than well... the Bible, it would be this book.
Throughout the book, Jen lays out 10 character traits that make God different from us and what that means for our lives in light of God's character. On her website she shared that her purpose for writing the book was to show people how "meditating on God's character enriches our understanding of Scripture" and how "meditating on God’s character is intensely practical."
The gist: meditating on God's character affects our lives.
Here are the ten character attributes she touches upon in the book:
I wish that I could sit down with each of you over coffee or tea (or your hot drink of choice) and just talk about these different attributes of God, because they really leave me in awe of Him. I could talk about each of these attributes, and I'd love to devote a few blog posts in the future to them, but for right now I'll focus on one.
Jen takes a chapter to focus on one attribute at a time, and when I started reading the chapter about God's limitlessness, I was blown away. I often live my life as if I'm limitless - I try to accomplish all of the things on my list, try to keep up with all of my friends, or take care of all of the house chores. I live my life thinking that I'm limitless, in my pride, I try to rival God. There is no one like God though, and I am reminded daily that I am so limited. God has placed healthy boundaries over our lives, like sleep. However, He is not bound by the same limits that we are bound by.
How does this knowledge of God's limitlessness affect my life? Well, it gives me peace in the moments when I try to live like I don't have limits. When I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I try to accomplish, a phrase enters my thoughts: You are limited, Madi, but God is limitless. It really frees me to submit to the boundaries God has placed in my life, like getting enough sleep, saying "no" to good things that hinder the best things, and guarding time for rest. Knowing that only God is limitless frees me from trying to rival God, and it makes me want to glorify and worship Him in the midst of my limits.
This is just one example of how this book has impacted me, and I could share more about the other attributes, but I want to leave you wanting to read this book for yourself and to explore the ways that God is different from us and why that is most certainly a good thing. So if you're looking for an excellent read, None Like Him by Jen Wilkin is definitely a book to add to your list.
The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
I believe that sharing insightful blog posts is caring, so I like to devote posts specifically to sharing things that I've read that have been encouraging, inspiring, insightful, or helpful. Here is this week's round-up:
For those of us that desire to blog and are not sure whether we should write on a personal blog: Is Blogging Dead?
For those of us that struggle with exercising and finding joy in the discipline of exercise: Do You Exercise Like a Nonbeliever?
For those of us that want to read a book that will help us to be in awe of God: None Like Him.
For those of us that want to make changes to our bodies: Five Lies About Your Body
For those of us that have felt the sacrifice of loving others: On Sacrifice and Greater Love
May these articles encourage you on the journey.
There is something strange about writing a review for a book on overcoming rejection, especially when your sentiments towards the book veer more towards rejection than praise. It is with humility that I share that Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst is one such book.
I wanted to appreciate this book, especially since a number of women that I love read it and recommended it. I've heard a number of women share how it has encouraged them and how relatable and helpful it has been to them. I do not doubt that the Lord has used this book in their lives. However, I struggled while reading this book.
Before I share some of the critiques of this book, I wanted to share a few things that I did appreciate.
One of the things that I appreciated about this book was Lysa's honesty in sharing the ways that she has experienced rejection in her life. I could easily identify with the various situations that she shared and they recalled instances in my life when similar things happened to me.
Chapter of Prayers
Lysa takes a chapter to share several prayers to the Lord to encourage in times of rejection. Her prayers are based off of Psalm 91 and would be a helpful resource to someone in the midst of feeling rejection.
End Chapter On Jesus
I spent the entire book wishing she would focus on how Jesus experienced and responded to rejection and how we should respond to rejection in light of the love shown to us by Christ. It wasn't until her second to last chapter that she brought up how Jesus is the one that helps us to overcome rejection and live loved. I appreciated this last chapter, but wished it had come sooner.
While these are some of the encouraging points of the book, there are a number of things that concerned me with this book and prevent me from recommending this to women that struggle with rejection.
I spent most of my time reading this book just wanting more. Lysa shares personal stories and gives truisms about God and His love, but I did not see how this book would help someone overcome deep hurt from rejection, such as from a spouse or a parent or a close friend. The deep and heart changing content did not come until the second to last chapter in which Lysa focuses on the character of Christ in the midst of rejection. It saddened me to read this book and realize that I would not want to recommend it to a person that needs biblical encouragement in the midst of facing rejection.
Uninvited is written in a twitter-style with staccato sentences and pages dedicated to a twitter ready quote. While I can understand wanting to appeal to a younger audience in the writing of this book, the twitter-style writing made it difficult to follow her writing.
I really wanted to like this book. There were a number of passages that I appreciated, but the shallowness of the content is my main critique. If there is someone that wants to read an encouraging book filled with truisms about God in the midst of rejection, this book might be helpful. However, if there is someone that struggles with working through the rejection that they face, I would recommend looking at the life of Jesus in the Bible or finding another biblically focused book on the topic.
I received a copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review, and this is my honest review of this book.
We've come to the end of this series, but we haven't come to the end of seeking God's kingdom. I've learned a lot from writing this series and looking at Scripture and what it says about the kingdom of God. Here are a few things I'm taking away from this series:
It's amazing how when we begin to seek God's kingdom and learn more about it, it seems to pop up everywhere. As I've been writing about God's kingdom, I've listened to songs that talk about God as King, I've heard sermons in which His Lordship is mentioned, and I've been reminded of how God brought a rebel like me into His kingdom to be His child. Glimpses of His kingdom are everywhere, and we learn more about God's kingdom and lordship while reading His word.
As we continue in our quest to seek His kingdom, my prayer is that you would find glimpses of God's kingdom and His lordship in your daily life and that you would desire to live your life more and more under the lordship of the King.
With the end of this 31 day series, I want to leave you with this...
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel.”
May we repent and believe in the gospel and may we seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Seeking the Kingdom.
You can view the rest of the posts from the series here.
Reader Participation: What did you think of this series? Was it helpful for you in seeking God's Kingdom? What did you learn? What would you have liked to learn more about? I love reader participation and feedback, so feel free to send some love and drop a line!
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
If we believe in Christ, we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and delivered into a kingdom of light, the kingdom of Jesus Christ. My prayer for you is that you would be a part of this kingdom, that you would be reconciled to the ultimate King through Jesus Christ.
This kingdom is a kingdom that is far greater than any kingdom in the world, because our King is greater than any earthly king. He is a good and kind King. He is the most perfect and loving King. He is a King that protects His people and makes everything work out for good for those that love him (Romans 8:28). He is a King that gave up his life willingly for those that are rebels to His reign. He is a King that loves His enemies. He is a King that created all things, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).
This King is sovereign over a kingdom of light, and He welcomes you to join His eternal kingdom.
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear