Dec 052015
 

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There are so many things my husband, Nathan, and I find ourselves regretting that we do or say as parents. But, one that I’m fairly confident we will not regret is taking the time to read to our children–especially books that encourage them to have a bigger, truer view of our God. Over the past year or so, we’ve really enjoyed reading the five devotional-type books below with our kids, ages 4, 6, and 8 at the time. (We’ve also used and liked these 7 great children’s Bible story books in the past.)

Do we read the Bible or a devotional every night with our children? Well, honestly, no. Some nights mom and dad are just too spent. But, on the whole over the years, we’ve tried to gather regularly before bed and read and pray together. One of the sweet results of this routine is that my kids expect it and even remind us at times. I hope and pray this translates to a personal love for and discipline in reading God’s Word as adults.

An important side note for parents who haven’t started this routine yet or feel intimidated: From my 15 professional years experience in children’s ministry, it’s NEVER too late to start reading the Bible or devotional books to your kids. If you’ve never started this routine or feel intimidated by the thought, don’t be discouraged. Talk with your children about the books below and maybe involve them in the decision about which one or two to begin with. And maybe explain to them that you can all learn together (I know I certainly learned a lot from the books below!). You do not have to have all the answers for your kids in order to read about God to them. I am convinced our children will remember most of all our example and heart for the Lord, rather than what we did and didn’t read or what we know and don’t know!

Some of these devotionals below are more appropriate for younger or older ages, as I’ve indicated. We’ve found one way to engage our older child is to have him read the devotional out loud to the younger children when using a “younger kid” book. We’ve also noticed that the 4-year-old really gleans more than we think when reading the “big kid” ones, and he’s learning to sit still and listen for longer and longer stretches as a result. So, don’t be afraid to try some of these with a wide variety of ages.

Here are five of our favorite devotional books and why, in no particular order. May God bless your desire to teach your children about the One who created them and loves them more than we can imagine. 

  1. Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family by Jessica Thompson

Exploring Grace Together

Exploring Grace Together is one of the best devotionals I have run across for elementary-aged children. As Thompson makes clear in this book, “Children need more than behavior modification. They need the gospel.” And what I love most about this devotional is that each chapter uses a simple scenario or story of an elementary-aged child who is facing something (a trial, a temptation, a battle with sin, disappointment, a chance to serve others, etc) and how he/she can practically apply gospel-truths to his/her situation. Then, Thompson includes three outstanding comprehension and application questions at the end for parents and kids to discuss. Bravo Jessica Thompson for a well-done, grace-centered family devotional!

2) Everything a Child Should Know About God by Kenneth N. Taylor

Everything a Child Should Know About God

Everything a Child Should Know About God is probably most appropriate for ages 3-6, but older and younger children will certainly benefit from this simple yet profound children’s book of systematic theology. In each chapter, the book addresses a question about God, Jesus, Salvation, The Bible, Christian living and more, providing an engaging illustration and a clear, age-appropriate answer. Even adults can learn from this clear-cut look at the basics of Christianity.

3) The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung

The Biggest Story

The Biggest Story is intended for ages 5-8 (as a read aloud) and ages 8-11 (as a “read to myself” book). My four-year-old enjoyed and followed along just fine, though. This devotional book will give your family a view of the Bible from 10,000 feet, so to speak–helping you to see how God’s plan of redemption through Jesus for his people is the main theme of the entire Bible from beginning to end. I would say the very best part of this “big picture” story Bible are the illustrations by Don Clark. We had several in-depth conversations about what the symbols on each page might mean and how they connect to the story. I have found my non-reader and young reader thumbing through the book on their own several times.

4) Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Storybook by Starr Meade

Mighty Acts of God

Mighty Acts of God claims to be for ages 8 and up, but from our experience, ages 5 or 6 and up can participate. Instead of focusing on Bible characters in each story like many children’s Bibles, each of these 90 Bible stories focus on a particular character trait or truth about God. Each God-focused Bible story is “retold in lively, modern-day language from a Reformed perspective”. My 8-year-old, in fact, read the entire thing on his own after we read it aloud a few times. He was fascinated by all the background information included that helped him grasp more of the context of each story. Although I felt like the application questions at the end of each chapter were a bit cumbersome (and the easiest for parents to lead), overall the book is worth buying and reading.

5) Little Pilgrim’s Progress: From John Bunyan’s Classic by Helen L. Taylor

Little Pilgrim's Progress

This children’s simplified rendition of John Bunyan’s classic isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around for over 55 years, and we’ve already read it twice in our family. The reason for its popularity is that it’s both “a simple adventure story and a profound allegory of the Christian journey through life”. This delightful read, which my children (it’s especially exciting to boys) adamantly requested night after night, filled our hearts with a message almost all ages (probably ages 4 and up) can understand and remember. We were literally crying together in the last chapters as our friend Christian finally makes it to the Celestial City. Little Pilgrim’s Progress has also inspired many spiritual conversations in the car, around the dinner table, etc. A must read for all children (and adults)!

Parents, have you used a great family devotional with your kids? Please share below!

Oct 272015
 

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“I love serving in second grade…they’re really good kids.”

“What a good boy to help clean up.”

Good little girls always tell the truth.”

We hear and say things like this all the time when it comes to children. It seems that recognizing good behavior in good kids is the mark and end goal of a child’s achievement. As parents and adults who teach and minister to little people, we want good kids. Good kids are compliant, truthful, helpful, easy to instruct, thankful, and generally easy to work with for these reasons. Who wouldn’t desire “good kids?” Our goal can easily become to keep good kids on the road to superior “goodness” and redirect rebellious, challenging children toward becoming “good.”

Continue reading »

Oct 222015
 

As a Crossing Kids volunteer and mother of two toddlers, I am learning firsthand the joys and hardships that come along with a growing and developing child. After reading Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson this past summer with our Crossing Kids Interns, I was able to better connect the message of the Gospel with raising and working with children through a grace-centered approach. I would like to share with you some applicable truths that have begun to transform my heart towards children.

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  1. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. No one is perfect at keeping the ‘law,’ especially a developing child trying to navigate a broken world. The only perfect record-keeper was Jesus Christ. None of us are ‘good’ and Give them Grace frankly states, Our children aren’t innately good, and we shouldn’t tell them that they are. But they are loved and if they truly believe that, his love will transform them.”
  2. Don’t confuse outward obedience with Christian righteousness. We would be missing the point of the Gospel if all we cared about was how children acted on the outside. We would never want our kids to think that their works would lead to salvation. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. No amount of goodness can lead to salvation.
  3. The ‘good’ children (who always follow the rules and want to people-please) can actually be the ones who need to hear the message of the Gospel more than the rule-breaking children. They may often struggle with pride, judging, and false idols. Their self-reliance may hinder them from not seeing their need for Jesus. Whereas the ‘bad’ children (who struggle openly with sin, temptations, and often identity issues), may be able to more easily see God’s grace and forgiveness during hard times and rest in the hope that He wants to give. After all, Jesus loved being around these types of people most.
  4. Salvation is of the Lord. Let us rest in the beautiful gift that our children’s salvation is not up to us and our ‘works’ with them. It isn’t about what we do right or wrong during our interactions. Let us rejoice in this burden being lifted. However, know that by serving in Crossing Kids, you are making yourself available for God to use you as a means to show children grace, forgiveness, and understanding.

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As I close, I do want to acknowledge that rules/law are pivotal in children’s lives. To ignore instruction, training and discipline would be irresponsible and apathetic. Giving grace to children involves keeping order and sanity in the Crossing Kids hallways, but by readjusting your perspective to a more gospel-centered approach, it can help show children (and all of us adults too!) more about God’s unwavering, grace-filled love for those who believe in Him.

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Oct 172014
 

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Have you heard of The Book with No Pictures?

B.J. Novak (you probably know him as “Ryan” from “The Office”) has broken into the children’s literature scene with a book that might seem unlikely to make kids belly laugh: a book with literally no pictures.

However, kids (and grown-ups alike) are finding that this book with no pictures has them howling with laughter and delight. The premise of the book is stated in the opening: “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. No matter what.” Pretty soon, this book has you pronouncing silly words that will have you and your child giggling together. The text is animated in color and typeface that indicates how certain words are to be read aloud. This book is meant to be read aloud together as a shared reading experience, making it a wonderful resource for parents looking to have fun with their children while reading.

Take a look at B.J. Novak reading his book with kids and see how this book makes the room light up.

 

Have you read The Book with No Pictures to your kids?

Feb 072014
 

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For the past couple of months, I’ve been reading a meditation each day during my time with God from John Piper’s book, Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life. Containing 140 concise and dynamic meditations, Piper covers a wide variety of topics that make me think deeply and draw out my heart for our great God. It’s fantastic.

A few days ago, I read meditation #57, entitled, Jesus and the Children; Pondering Children as Pride Detectors. Have you ever thought of your children as pride detectors? What Piper had to say really blew me away.

“One thing to watch for when assessing a person’s spiritual fitness for ministry is how he or she relates to children. Put a child in a room and watch. This is what Jesus did to make a point. Children are the litmus paper to expose the presence of pride… Receiving  a child into your arms in the name of Jesus is a way to receive Jesus. And receiving Jesus is a way to receive God. Therefore how we deal with children is a signal of our fellowship with God. Something is really amiss in the soul that does not descend (or is it really ascend?) to love and hold a child.”

Do I receive children as a way to receive Jesus? I confess, in much of my everyday thinking with my two little ones, I think about how much the house needs cleaning, the little noses need wiping, the to-do list needs checking off. I love my children more than air, yet I still get bogged down in the “getting it done” mindset. Piper’s words gave me more food for thought in this area. By slowing down and pulling my kids into my lap in Jesus’ name, I am not only sharing God’s love with them, I am receiving it as well.

Jesus said, “Whoever receives one child like this in my name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” (Mark 9:37).

Piper concludes this meditation with ten ways Jesus related to children for us to consider. He encourages us to “let them stir in you the longings of Christ.”

1. Jesus was a child.  (Isaiah 9:6)

2. Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16)

3. Jesus healed a child of a foreign woman. (Matthew 15:28)

4. Jesus cast a demon out of a child. (Matthew 17:18)

5. Jesus raised a child from the dead. (Mark 5:41-42)

6. Jesus used a child’s loaves and fish to feed five thousand people. (John 6:9-10)

7. Jesus said you should become like a child. (Matthew 18:3-4)

8. When Jesus came, children cried “Hosanna!” to the Son of David. (Matthew 21:15)

9. Jesus predicted the terrible days when fathers would give their children up to death. (Mark 13:12)

10. Jesus said that if you receive a child in his name, you receive him and the one who sent him. (Mark 9:37)

Our work with children is spiritual work. Feeding them, holding them, singing to them, praying with them, teaching them, washing them, loving them – this is one beautiful and remarkable way we receive and commune with our gracious and sovereign God. I pray as we interact with our children at home and in the rooms of Crossing Kids, we will be keenly aware that we are not only sharing Christ’s love, but receiving it as well.

Jan 072014
 

This is a guest post written by Lynn Roush.

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When I was growing up my dad made herculean efforts to assemble the family for devotions and prayer.  He desired to lead us spiritually and wanted us to know the Bible and walk with God.  His efforts, though well intentioned, were often met with resistance from my sisters and me.  We found it amusing and delighted in thwarting his attempts at serious prayer and Bible reading.  We were pretty awful actually.  We got to laughing so hard one time that we were crying and rolling on the floor, and my dad’s look of exasperation and frustration only fueled the comedy of the moment.

At one point he bought an entire volume of encyclopedia-type books that told the whole story of the Bible from beginning to end.  When they arrived in the mail the boxes were so heavy he could barely pick them up. They took up several shelves and were big and heavy.   We snickered at the sheer weight and size of the poorly illustrated books that only collected dust over time.  We may have made it through Genesis 1-5 and then gave up.  Eventually they were sold in a garage sale, most of them having never even been opened.

Other methods employed that were slightly more effective involved putting Bible verses on large pieces of poster board that we would gather around and work on memorizing.  This is how I memorized Psalm 23 and learned the skill of memorization that I used many times over in my life.  The biggest lesson that I took away from my dad’s efforts was that he truly loved God’s Word, and more importantly loved Jesus. He genuinely longed that we would recognize the significance and authority of Scripture and develop a relationship with God that was our own.

Fast forward to present day and I find myself wrestling with the same struggle that my parents did…trying to figure out ways to make God’s Word and the truths within appealing to my children.  Especially now that they are getting older it seems to be more challenging to find material that matches their growing minds and hearts.

Although it was usually my dad leading the charge for family devotions, my mom’s experience and intuition of raising three kids and shepherding eight grandchildren recently inspired her to write a book that not only highlights key Bible verses that are essential to the Christian faith, but explains what they mean in ways that are easy to understand.  In her book “Awesome Bible Verses Every Kid Should Know…and What They Mean,” she has found a way to communicate deep theological concepts through thought-provoking illustrations and simple language.

We have been using this book during our Saturday family devotions and our kids (ages 13, 10 and 7) take turns reading a chapter.  Each chapter only takes about 10-15 minutes to get through and it spurs good conversation and keeps everyone’s interest.  Sometimes the stories feel really close to home and the kids ask, “Do you think Grandma is talking about us?!”  Well, especially if she’s talking about treating your siblings with kindness or learning what it means to forgive, I’m pretty sure she’s probably talking about my kids!

If you are looking for a great resource for family devotions or just bedtime reading with your kids, I would highly recommend this book by Rebecca Lutzer.  My kids think they’re famous because their picture is on the back cover, but I find them reading the book on their own even when we haven’t asked them too.  I think it’s because they really enjoy the content, and not just because their grandma is the author!

Note: Her new book, “Life-Changing Verses Every Woman Should Know” will be released in February.

Sep 172013
 

I am a person who usually reads one book at a time and refuse to start a new one until I am finished with the current one. However, I tried a new strategy over the past month. I started reading three different books at a time. I would read one chapter in each book, then move to the next book, then on to the third book. The only reason I did this was because I felt compelled to read one book but since it was on a harder topic, I felt like I needed to also read something that was easier for my mind to comprehend.

I have finished two of them and will be done with the third one this week. It took a little longer to read each one of them, but I did find that my mind was engaged in a different way than it ever has before. I think I might try this strategy again.

Below is a description about each book and how they have impacted me.

Kisses for Katie

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis is a true story about a teenager who went on a short term mission trip in 2006 to Uganda over Christmas break and it changed her life. She was so moved by the people and the needs she saw there that she felt called by God to go back. She has lived in Uganda ever since. She has adopted thirteen girls and oversees a ministry that feeds and sends hundreds of children to school.

On page 108 of her book, she writes “We were, in every way, a normal family, imperfect but perfectly knit together by our Creator. Sometimes my children were late to school because I lit the toast on fire, other days they simply stayed home from school because Mom wanted to play! Sometimes we ran out of food and ate pancakes for dinner. Some days there seemed to be so many people in my house screaming and coloring on the walls and riding the dogs as though they were little horses that I felt I might just collapse. And still in all my imperfection, their hopeful eyes would look up at me with such love and faith that I could answer their every question.

“Mommy, where does the sun go when I am sleeping?” “Mommy, are all ladybugs girls?” “Mommy, where do I go when I die? Do fish go there too?” “Well, why don’t fish breathe air?” “Mommy, what makes the sky blue?” “Mommy, why aren’t you bald like me?””Mommy, why is your skin different from mine?” Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…

One of the questions that surprised me most was this: “Mommy, if Jesus comes to live inside my heart, will I explode?”  “No!” I proclaimed as the children and I headed to the Nile River for a few of them to be baptized that day. Then I thought about the question a bit more.

“Yes, if Jesus comes to live in your heart, you will explode.” That is exactly what we should do if Jesus comes to live inside our hearts. We will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice. We will explode with a desire to be more, to be better, to be close to the One who made us.”

That is how I felt as I read this book. I felt like exploding with joy at how God got a hold of a normal person’s heart and is changing so many others because of it. I was so encouraged that Katie was willing to listen to what God wanted for her life and follow through. Her whole story has given me a greater appreciation for missionaries and their willingness to leave their home behind to serve Jesus.

Disability and Gospel

Disability and the Gospel by Michael S. Beates was an eye-opening look at the biblical and historical side of disabilities and special needs. One of his main points is that the church really needs to embrace those with disabilities and welcome them into our churches because it helps us embrace and see our own brokenness.

On page 129, he writes “The church must grasp anew that we Americans, expend much effort to overcome, and to earn, at the least to contribute something to, what we receive. So the church instead must be convinced that, in our weakness, we are unable to contribute anything to the gospel. The gospel is strong for us in our weakness…And what more powerful illustration of weakness do we have than people who bear disabilities (either visibly in their bodies or undeniably in their manner)?”

I personally learned a lot of things I didn’t know before from reading this book. It has also given me a greater vision and hope for our own Agape Kids ministry and has increased my prayers for those families in our church who live with disabilities and special needs every day.

Parenting Handbook

The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller offers 50 heart-based strategies for all the stages of your child’s life. Each chapter offers parents help to form a parenting philosophy that moves from behavior modification to a heart-based approach. This book is full of very practical ideas and thoughts that will help a parent who has any age of child.

On page 6, they write, “A heart-based approach to parenting often shares values and reasons behind rules. It requires more discussions with kids, helping them understand that their hearts are resistant and that they need to develop cooperation. A heart-based approach is firm but also relational. It’s a different mind-set for some parents and looks at the interaction of family life differently. Instead of simply getting the room cleaned and the dishes put away, parents are more interested in developing character, values, and convictions.”

One of the reasons I started reading this book is because we are bringing the authors to Columbia in February for a parenting conference. I have four children and I found this book so helpful and insightful. In fact, in one chapter they gave a definition of “honor” that is now hanging on our refrigerator. It reads “Honor means to treat people as special, do more than what’s expected, and have a good attitude. Honor carries the idea of going above and beyond. That means seeing what needs to be done and doing it, and solving problems instead of leaving them for others.”

Have you been reading any good books lately? Please share.

 

 

 

Aug 162013
 

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A topic we come back to again and again on Leaving a Legacy is the importance of reading with our children (see Talking About Reading and  The Read Aloud Handbook). My experience as a teacher and parent of two young children has convinced me that an open book being shared between a parent and child is a powerful platform to help children learn about the world, discuss truths and fears, and explore God’s love and purpose for the world. An open book is a tremendous tool to aid us in leaving a legacy of faith with the next generation.

Our family has been reading an old classic at bedtime and it has quickly become one of my daughter’s favorites – The Runaway Bunny. Published in 1942, this book has stood the test of time in telling a beautiful story with lilting text, gentle humor, and lush illustrations. The Runaway Bunny gives a sense of security to children without talking down to them. It explores the depth of a parent’s love through a story simple enough for young children to comprehend, but with complexity that lends itself to discussion with older children. Today as I read The Runaway Bunny to my daughter, I saw how clearly it paints a picture of the love of God for His erring children.

Hunny my Bunny

The picture above shows the little bunny becoming a sailboat in order to run away from his mother, yet his mother tells him, “If you become a sailboat and sail away from me, I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go.”  The entire book is about the little bunny thinking of ways to run away, only to be reassured by his mother that there is nowhere he can go that she will not follow.

One cannot help but be reminded of Psalm 139, specifically verses 7-12.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

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Where can we go to flee God’s presence? The answer is, we can’t. As far as we can run, as deep as we can hide, God is there pursuing us with His love, His grace, and His truth. What a comfort! Though my daughter is just two years old, we were able to talk about this concept today. I told her, “Wherever you go, whatever you do – God is always with you.” We’ve been talking a lot about Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.” This verse is hanging in her room and she knows these words well, so I used this book to reinforce Jesus’ promise.

I held my daughter on my lap and told her, “Just like the little bunny’s mama is always with him, so God will always be with you. When you are alone in your bed at night, God is with you. When you are at play group or with a babysitter, God is with you. When we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, God is with you. God is always with you because He loves you.

I know these promises of God assured and comforted her. I am praying that my children will know God’s presence and that as Psalm 23:6 says, His “goodness and love will follow [them] all the days of [their] life.” I am praying for their souls to not run from, but instead run into the arms of their loving Father.

The truth is we are all like the runaway bunny. We are restless, foolish, and chasing the idols we think will make us happy instead of seeking Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Let us pray for ourselves and our children that we will know God’s surrounding presence no matter where we turn, how far we fall, or how fast we run. The truth is that God made a way for us to run straight to Him without fear, guilt, or shame – we can race to our Father through Jesus. When we find our hearts running away, let us pray the prayer St. Patrick prayed years ago:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,  
         Christ behind me, Christ before me,  
      Christ beside me, Christ to win me,  
         Christ to comfort and restore me,  
      Christ beneath me, Christ above me,  
         Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,  
      Christ in hearts of all that love me,  
         Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. 

Amen.

Jul 092013
 

On the surface, the title and verses listed above appear painstakingly obvious.  Ask anyone who knows me for any length of time and it will quickly become apparent that the thought of me saving anyone, including myself, is quite laughable.  Yet, I’ve lately become increasingly aware that much of the frustration I experience on a daily basis has at its core great unbelief and a desire to play God in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

Perhaps, like me, you struggle with this desire as well.  You want to be omnipresent–in all places at all times.  When you feel the limitations imposed by our humanity because you can’t be two places at once, a strong desire to break those boundaries starts to creep in.  Perhaps, like me, you want more hours in the day.  You want your time to multiply and cover a superhuman amount of ground.  Perhaps, like me, you want to be omniscient–all knowing.  You want to have all the answers.  You want to know what the future holds for you and for others.  Perhaps, like me, you want to be sovereign.  You want to fix everyone’s problems the way you see fit.  You want your life to look a certain way, to have a certain feel to it.  Perhaps, like me, you don’t just want to be like God.  You actually want to be God when it comes to governing your life and the lives of those around you.

We recently finished reading a book by Zack Eswine called Sensing Jesus as a staff team.  Multiple, deeply layered themes bubbled to the surface as we discussed the chapters each week.  One of the most influential for me was this very idea–“I am not the Christ.”  Again and again I was reminded that my response to the question of who I am should resemble John the Baptist’s in John 1:19-20:

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.

When I bump against the restrictions of my humanity, I am reminded of this important truth.  Rather than stewing in frustration, shaking my fists, trying to manipulate circumstances, or live in a way that denies that their are boundaries to my abilities and power as a human being, I can join John and simply say, “I am not the Christ.”  I can remind myself and those around me that I am not God, I can remind them that we can all agree that this is a good thing.  Here are just a few excerpts from Sensing Jesus that drive home these ideas.

“Trying to be an exception to the human race encourages arrogance among most of us and burnout among many of us–the two invasive fruits of having to prove that we are not flawed, that we do not need rescue from Jesus the way other neighbors to.”

“When the Serpent tempted Eve and Adam to “be like God,” the Serpent meant that we can rival God in what we resemble.  The Serpent meant that we can also break the bonds of creaturely limits in order to infinitely know and do as our Creator knows and does.  We can circumvent what legitimately limits us.  The lie continues by whispering to us that in comparison to God, we are somehow extraordinary, entitled, and exceptional.”  

“It was John the Baptist who said it.  I am not the Christ, he declared.  It seems to me that while it is true that we can dangerously make too little of God by drawing improper attention to ourselves, it is equally true that we cannot fully magnify God without confessing that we are not him…each of us is not God and is only human (I am not the Christ.)  The absence of such a confession is making us a ragged bunch.”

Apr 022013
 

Reading is a huge part of how I like to spend my free time. I love to get lost in a book. I’ve read several books in the last few weeks and thought I would share them with you.

Sparkly Green Earrings  is a humorous true story written by Melanie Shankle. She shares her life from trying to get pregnant, actually being pregnant, having a baby and being a mom. I laughed out loud several times as I read this book. As a mother myself and close to her age, I personally related to so much of what she wrote about. This book, which was sprinkled with scripture, made me think about all the ways parenting shapes us and why I do some of the things I find myself doing as a mother.

What Alice Forgot is a fictional story about a woman who falls at the gym and loses her memory. She actually loses 10 years of her memory so she does not remember having her three children or that she is in the process of getting divorced. She still thinks and feels like she is 29 years old, happily married and pregnant with her first child. Although not a Christian book, what I found interesting was the truths this book revealed about how much time really does change us and how the people we meet and the decisions we make shape who we are and what we become. As I read, I kept reflecting on who I am now and what I used to be like 10 years ago – with my children but also in my marriage. We really do change over time. This book also caused me to pray. I prayed that God would keep me from hardening to the things that happen to me in life.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is a true story about a woman who used to be a leading lesbian professor who becomes a Christian and over time her whole life changes. Keith wrote briefly about it here.  In light of the recent ongoing debates on gay marriage, this book was an eye-opening picture into the life of someone who God has dramatically changed. I found myself amazed at the way God not only changed my life 27 years ago but at how he works in so many different ways to redeem someone and accomplish his will.

Scouting the Divine is filled with insight and stories that engage the mind and the soul. Margaret Feinberg shares of her search for God in wine, wool and wild honey. Each chapter tells of her time spent with someone who lives day by day as a shepherd, a vintner, a bee keeper and a farmer. Each person she meets shares their thoughts on bible passages and what they mean to them in light of what they do. I learned a lot that I didn’t know before and it gave several passages new meaning to me.

These books have all made me think, laugh and some have caused me to pray. Do you have any book recommendations?