Book Review For Recovering Redemption

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My Personal Review ~ 5 stars ~

Wow. Can I give it more than five stars?? Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change had so many incredible things to share!

Matt Chandler is a pastor/Christian speaker that I’ve enjoyed listening to and I really admire his passion, realness, and humor, so when I saw this book that he co-authored with Michael Snetzer, I was interested to read it. I am truly so glad I did! I read almost the whole book, then stopped and went back to the beginning, reading it through again with a friend. Loved it just as much the second time reading. It’s fairly easy to read, keeps you engaged, and had more than one chapter that stopped me in my tracks. So much to digest, mentally – I could read it again! I feel like I’ve been impacted and learned a lot from reading Recovering Redemption.

It simply takes a look at things such as sin, religion, shame, guilt, anxiety, justification, reconciliation, forgiveness, the pursuit of joy … from the perspective of the gospel and who Jesus is to us. Chandler and Snetzer are real and raw, just telling it like is. They don’t mince words. They dig into things … sort things out. They examine Scripture. They call you out. Take a look at tough issues. Tell hard but beautiful real-life stories. Destroy lies you’ve believed. It challenged me. Encouraged me. Made me think. Made me realize. Made me hope. Made me long for more. Made me cry. (Made me laugh a little, even. There was humor/lightheartedness sprinkled throughout this book, hehe). Made me relax – like, maybe I can just rest in Jesus’ arms and surrender my life, letting go of this anxiety and trying to be “good enough”.

As with all Christian Living books, I’m sure I didn’t 100% agree with absolutely everything said … or even like how everything was presented … but overall, I found Recovering Redemption to be an amazing read that provided enlightening truths and made my heart desire ever more to know my Savior – be in a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

I loved how Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change ended with this: Make much of His name. In everything, we are here to honor and glorify our Creator and Lord.

Highly recommend this book.

Life Updates and a Poem

Hello, my lovely readers! I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted … I’ve missed quite a few Tuesdays and Saturdays! Part of that is because my life has been so busy – helping my family remodel a house, organizing, packing, babysitting, applying for jobs, moving in, getting sick … I haven’t had a whole lot of time to just sit and think of something to write to you all. Haven’t had a lot of inspiration lately.

But I’m now getting over being sick with a sinus infection and pink eye (which started out as a cold over a week ago) and feeling much better, physically. Also feeling more settled and calm, now that my family and I are finally in our new house!

So I wrote a poem this morning! 🙂 Now, I am not very good at writing poems. I only write them occasionally, when I’m feeling deeply about something and just have to get my feelings out somehow … so I scribble them down on paper. I haven’t been writing stories lately, or even journaling, but I have slipped into a poem-writing season, I guess.

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  • I’ve been thinking about love. What is love? What does it mean to love, truly? How can we feel perfectly loved?
  • I’ve been thinking about God. Why do we struggle to trust Him at times? Why do we keep running to everything but Him? Why do we cry out so desperately to Him to give us love in all these other shapes and forms, when He’s offering us Himself?

At my Bible study, on Sunday evening, one of the other ladies said something that kind of inspired this poem. She said something along the lines of: God wants to give us the absolute best … so He gives us Himself.

So here’s my poem. It’s definitely not perfect, probably not even proper (I’m not well-studied in the art of writing poems), but bear with me and try to get the overall message, anyway, even if you can’t see the poetry of it. 😉

Come to Me

Why are you running, child?

Running from Me?

Where are you going?

What is it you seek?

 

You’re confused and afraid

Too scared to trust

You don’t know the way

But you won’t let Me lead.

Dear child, be still

Don’t you know it’s Me you need?

 

You’re searching for love

You’re chasing the high

You grasp and you covet

And then you ask, “Why?”

Why isn’t my heart happy now?

Why hasn’t this person satisfied me?

Why do I need more—what haven’t I found?

Where can happiness possibly be?

 

Child, you ask, “Why me?

Why am I alone and unloved?”

But I say, “Come to Me

Let Me fill you up.”

Your heart was made for My love

Let me give you Myself

Your soul was made for heaven above

Child, only in Me can you know true love.

 

Heaven is your home,

Not somewhere unknown.

Eternity is My promise to you, dear

Not something to fear.

So when the Enemy whispers lies

Dark—in your ear

Come to Me, precious child

Let My Word drown out your fear.

 

Come to Me

Come deeper still

Rest in my love freely

Let Me show you My will

My yoke is easy, My burden is light

I do not oppress you

Don’t take to flight

That’s the Enemy’s tactic

To harass and to shame you

My love is gentle—believe it

It’s that of a Father, unconditional and true

 

Come to Me, Child

I want you to know Me

Come and find

My love, divine

Everything else

Will leave you empty

Let Me tell you this, Child

Tell you gently

Seeking Me and My love

Is the only way

Let Me show you My love

Come here to stay

And then you will have

Everything.

© Shantelle Mary

 

I might share some more of my attempts at poetry in the near future – just to share a little of my heart and hope you can relate! 🙂

Have a blessed day, dear friends! ❤

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Some Favorite Songs

Hi, friends! I thought I’d do a quick post sharing some favorite Christian artists/songs that I have enjoyed lately.

So, here we go. 🙂

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Lauren Daigle

I first discovered her songs a couple years back. I’ve gone through seasons of listening to her everyday … and seasons of not hearing one of her songs for months. But I always come back to her songs, and just love them again and again.

I think I like every one of her songs, but “Trust in You” is pretty special.

“Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want, Lord, and nothing less”

 

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Micah Tyler

Just recently, I heard one of Micah Tyler’s songs, “Never Been a Moment”, and actually cried through it because it touched me so. 🙂 So, of course, I had to look up his other songs and found a bunch more really meaningful ones! I like his voice/style.

“Even Then” is dear to my heart.

“Even when it feels like my world is shaken

Even when I’ve had all that I can take

I know

You never let me go”

 

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Tenth Avenue North

I’ve been listening to Tenth Avenue North for years, but lately I’ve been kind of rediscovering their songs (mostly because of my younger sister’s love for them! *smiles*) They have a lot of good songs, and seem like a really great, genuine group of guys, following the Lord.

“Control” is a beautiful song by them.

“I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall through my hands
You have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh help me believe”

 

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Lecrae

He has a lot of thoughtful songs. I know some people don’t like this style of music, but I like certain songs of this style by Christian artists, as long as they don’t get too much of a heavy/dark beat.

“I’ll Find You” is one I like by Lecrae.

“Just fight a little longer, my friend
It’s all worth it in the end
But, when you’ve got nobody to turn to
Just hold on, and I’ll find you”

 

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Joseph Solomon

Joseph Solomon is one of my favorite Youtubers! He just came out with his first song, and I really enjoy his style/voice.

“Make Me Believe”

“Though my heart may seem too far

You are not

You are God

Though I’m waiting in the dark

I’m not lost

You are God”

 

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Ryan Stevenson

I’ve actually on listened to a couple songs by Ryan Stevenson. But they’ve been good!

“The Gospel” is especially powerful.

“It’s the cure for our condition

It’s the good news for us all

It’s greater than religion

It’s the power of the cross

So can we get back to the altar

Back to the arms of our first love?

There’s only one way to the Father and He’s calling out to us”

 

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Jasmine Murray

I love her voice! And the message of her song, “Fearless”, really speaks to me.

“But I wasn’t given the spirit of fear
I was given the power of love”

Delight In Him

Delight in Him

16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:16-17

I think this verse paints such a poignant picture of God’s tender love. He will rejoice over you. Quiet you with His love. Rejoice over you with singing.

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Children of the one true God, He not only loves you – He delights in you. He loves you not because you’re perfect or you have it all together. Let’s be honest: none of us are perfect or have it all together … and we never will, until we reach heaven! He loves us because we’re His. He redeemed us. He justified us. He adopted us. He made us heirs with Christ. He wants us.

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:15-17

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Hebrews 2:10-13

 

That is such a hard concept to grasp. But whenever I get a glimpse of it, the love I feel is incredible. Unlike anything else I’ve experienced before. No one has ever loved me perfectly on this earth – and no one ever will. But God’s love for me is perfect. And when I can feel some of the depth of His amazing love, I am awed and overwhelmed. I am safe. I am whole. I am His.

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My prayer life has deepened over the past couple months, and I think this has helped me to feel God’s love on a more consistent basis. Because I’m spending more time with Him – seeking Him from my heart. Desiring to be closer to Him. And let me tell you, friends, I wouldn’t trade those sweet moments with Jesus Christ for anything.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:8

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

It is an awesome thing to dwell in Jesus’ presence. It’s an incredible thing when we realize how God loves us. When we know we are loved, then we can love. We can love the Lord with all our heart, strength, and mind. We can love others the way God calls us to.

We can serve God with passion and abandon. Fears fade. Insecurities dwindle. Hope blossoms. Joy takes root. Peace envelopes. We can live. Finally. Fully. Abundantly. Ah, what a precious thing!

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

As I am finding this close relationship with Jesus Christ, I’ve come to a place where I don’t want anything to hinder that. I want everything in life to enhance my relationship with Him. I want every other relationship in my life to build on the one with Jesus – my first love. Never replace my relationship with Him. He is my one and only forever.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2

Have I always felt this way? No. It’s actually only been the past couple years that I’ve been truly coming to this sort of turning point in my walk of faith. Do I still struggle? Absolutely. I have fears and doubts. I question and cry again and again. But what do I come back to? God’s love for me. His faithful and true love.

26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Ah, Lord, what have I done to deserve Your love?

I have messed up so many times. Gone many steps back instead of forward so many times. I’ve given into fear more times than I ever care to count. I’ve doubted Him. Questioned Him. Asked Him again and again and again, “Do you love me, Lord? Do you really see me down here?”

But He has never given up on me. In my hardest, weakest moments, I believe He has cradled me in His arms. I am so unworthy. But so loved. And sometimes my soul overflows with passion and love when this knowledge truly hits me.

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

This little video below I have watched many times. Mostly during times when I was in a very fearful and vulnerable place. And every time, when I see His hands holding the little lamb safely out of reach from the wolves, sobs bubble up in my throat. And when I see the guy running passionately toward Jesus Christ – straight into God’s loving arms – the tears overflow. My heart cries, every time, “I want that!”

Oh, I wanted to feel that love. That safety in Jesus’ arms. That knowledge that no matter what, I can trust that He has me. That love and passion for the Father God who gave His all for me. I wanted His love to fill me up and burst out in passion for Him!

“Hallelujah, all I have is Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!”

Praise the Lord, He has been bringing me to that place. Showing me His love. Sanctifying me. Growing me closer to Him. And I have never felt more loved.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Psalm 103:11-13

Friends, we don’t always feel that love. We don’t always feel spiritual. We aren’t always able to banish the fear and questions.

But God is faithful and true through it all. Run to Him! Cling to Him. Spend time with Him. Read His words and pour out your heart to Him. Let Him change you and grow you and put His love deep in your heart. Only then will you know Him.

28 But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.

Psalm 73:28

He loves you!

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Psalm 25:1-7

Beautifully Modest

Hello, my lovely sisters! I just want to talk a little bit about modesty and beauty today – and share with you a delightful Youtube channel on this topic that I recently discovered!

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Modest.

What is modesty? Why do I have to be modest? How do I dress modestly?

Let me just make clear right here and now that I’m not an expert in this area. I’ve long struggled over what is and isn’t modest, and how to dress. I still don’t have it all together. I still have things I need to work on in this area, I’m sure.

But you know what? I’ve realized a couple things. Through praying and pondering. Reading God’s Word. Looking back on who God is and what He has done in my life thus far – what all that says about His nature. Listening to many a godly Christian speaker on this topic …

  • Modesty must be cultivated in the heart.
  • Modesty is an earnest journey of walking by the Spirit.
  • Your modesty should reflect God’s character.
  • God is majestic, holy, creative, amazing, good, filled with splendor and beauty – modesty should be about honoring God, reflecting who He is, pointing to Him: modesty should show virtue and beauty.

Can I dress in a pretty way and still be honoring to God? Well, yes, I believe so! I believe you can dress in a feminine, beautiful, honorable, lovely way that absolutely reflects the quiet and gentle spirit God has cultivated within you, and points to a magnificent, holy, wondrous, good, and beautiful Creator.

I don’t think God gives us a set of rules and asks us to do things without a reason and purpose. And if you look through the Bible, you find the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, and then you find Jesus say, in the New Testament, that all the commandments from God can be summed up in these two things:  Love the Lord your God, and love your fellow man.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:14

So with everything God calls us to do, with each way He calls His followers to live life, I believe it comes back to the heart, and to love. Some things we think are okay in the moment, are actually hurting/going to hurt us and others – and therefore hurt the heart of God. Are not good or right for us to do.

Galatians 5 is a really good passage to read when thinking about this. It talks about liberty, love fulfilling the law, and walking by the Spirit.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Galatians 5:6

I think there are a couple reasons why He calls women to dress modestly.

One: To reflect who He is. If you have been saved by the blood of Christ, you belong to the King of Kings. The glorious, eternal, awesome Lord of all. You are His daughter – His princess. Dress in a way that shows that! Shows your awe, and love, and delight, and passion for your Lord and Father. If we love Him, we truly want to honor Him in all we do.

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14

And as children of the one, true God, I think we also have a duty to honor ourselves in the way we dress. Honor the bodies that were bought at a price – that are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We should portray ourselves in a holy and beautiful way that would point to who God is.

20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:20

I think it makes sense that we take good care of our bodies and even physical appearance out of an overflow of the love and beauty of our hearts, which are being filled and changed by Christ.

17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off.

Isaiah 33:17

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

Psalm 27:4

And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.
For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.
Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

Psalm 89:5-8

In that day the Lord of hosts will be
For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty
To the remnant of His people,

Isaiah 28:5

Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

Two: To flee sexual immorality. Ladies, God designed men in a way where certain ways we dress can just trigger a reaction in their mind and start up a battle. No, we don’t make them sin. They make their own choices. But yes, you can definitely dress in a way that causes your brothers in Christ to struggle. Is that honorable to God? We should be helping our brothers flee sexual immorality, not adding to the problem!

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

1 Corinthians 6:18

22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

1 Timothy 2:22

We need to flee sexual immorality and anything having to do with it. Even if you aren’t necessarily sinning sexually by dressing in a unholy way, you’re being a stumbling block to others in that area. I don’t think that counts as “not having a hint of sexual immorality among you”.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesians 5:3

I believe as we walk closely with the Lord, He gently guides and corrects us. Do I know everything? No. Do I understand everything the Bible says? Absolutely not. But do I trust my Savior and Father? Yes. Have I seen Him at work, gently and kindly and firmly, in my life? Yes, I truly believe so. He is not harsh with me. He loves me. And He sees my heart.

He sees your heart too, dear readers.

As you walk this journey of dressing modestly, I encourage you to research and listen to and be encouraged by fellow godly Christians! But first and foremost, seek the Lord and His ways! Let Him speak to you and lead you! ❤

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

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Now, for the modesty Youtube channel I mentioned above! It’s called Set Apart Style, and all the videos I’ve watched so far have been really thoughtful! I would recommend you check them out! Not saying this young lady has it absolutely all figured out (none of us do!). And I’m not even saying I would wear/consider modest all the things she’s okay with, but I think she has some really good tips, and her heart is beautiful, and she explains modesty in such a precious and God-honoring way.

Modesty – Honoring Christ In and With All (introduction video)

I also quite love the Girl Defined Ministries Youtube Channel, and really like the modesty standards they show in this video:

Project Modesty: How to Combine Modesty and Fashion

God is beauty. He creates beautiful things. He clothes the lilies of the field magnificently. He made us beautifully, and I believe He is faithful to lead in this area if we simply trust Him and walk by His Spirit.

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28:29

 

More Videos From SET APART STYLE:

OOTD – The Bride of Christ // Modest Styling Workshop SS16

Modest Dressings Essentials // Tips For Skirts

Modest Dressing Essentials // Tips For Dresses

Modest Dressing Essentials // Tips For Tops

Does What I Read Honor God?

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Do you ever examine the Christian romance novels you’re reading and ponder how romance is brought across?

does what I read honor God

I would be the first to say that I don’t have it all together … that I still have so much to learn, but I do know that God has been teaching me a lot and this topic of sensual romance in novels has been on my heart for quite some time.

I’m not, by any means, laying down the law in this post. Just sharing some of my thoughts and wonderings. I’d love to discuss with you!

Pure. Noble. Lovely. Virtuous. Praiseworthy.

Hmm.

If you’re like me and love to read, you’ve probably noticed that many Christian authors add a certain amount of sensuality to their novels. The amount ranges from not too noticeable (but still makes you want to recommend it only to older teens and up) to downright scandalous (you decided not to read by that author again/give it a low rating even though it was adventurous otherwise).

I just saw a review from a fellow reader today, and she had rated this Christian novel less than she wanted to because of the sexual themes in it. She said things like, “How do we expect unmarried women to keep their minds pure when reading scenes like this?” and “are Christian novels just getting more and more edgy??”

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but nothing about that sounds pure and noble. I mean, I like a good romance as much as the next young woman – but what I’m actually looking for is a beautiful, real love story … not a steamy romance that’s pushing at the boundary lines.

Look, romance can be a very good thing. God created romance. Blessed marriage. Designed the feelings between a man and woman. Romance is deep and beautiful! But I definitely feel things can be written in way that’s just going too far or distorting what God created romance/marriage to look like.

So does this writing of sensual romance scenes honor God? Not only are single ladies having their heads filled with things they probably shouldn’t ponder as of yet, but practically only the physical side of a romantic relationship is coming across in most of these novels. I think unmarried women are getting the wrong expectations from these type of novels, among other things …

Like, romantic love is not all about kissing, the excitement of a whirlwind courtship, and having fun in the moment. It’s much, much bigger than that! Romantic love should start as friendship. That friendship should deepen. Christ should be the center of the relationship, from start to end – His approval naturally should be sought!! I believe a lot of the physical side should wait. Many now-married, Christian couples I’ve listened to said that saving their first kiss for their wedding day was how they avoided temptation, firmly upheld a godly purity, ensured that they were only kissing their spouse … It made their kisses oh so special.

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Yet many Christian romance novels these days are not teaching that in any way, shape, or form.

Rather, it’s all about how fun the other person is to be with. How delightful the relationship is at the moment, even though they’re not sure where exactly it’s going. And after hanging out a few times, they might share a kiss because they have to let the other know they’re not “just friends”!

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And on top of that, we get all the details. Come now, writers, I know we like to make things as real-feeling as possible, but ultimately its the characters’ romance, not ours! I think we need to keep the more private moments of their relationship to themselves, just as it would be in real life.

Some Christian romances I’ve read even go inside the man’s head and mention these thoughts he’s having concerning the woman’s figure or whatnot. And I’m thinking, Isn’t that bordering on lust?

Why are flirting with sexual sin, setting up absolutely no boundaries, and even lust portrayed as perfectly normal and okay in your average Christian novel??

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Here’s some thoughts on the subject from author Rachel Hauck: Writing Sexual Content in our Stories.

One thing she said that caught my attention was something along the lines of: “Imagine someone reading the kind of scenes you write to your children, your mother, or grandmother. Or Jesus, for that matter.”

Is it honorable, pure, and lovely? Is it building up and helping others? Is it showing God’s hand in the romantic relationship? Is it a light and example to unbelievers or younger brothers and sisters in the faith?

I have read so many lovely, great books with beautiful romances that are not all sensual! So why are a huge part of the Christian authors letting it seep in and sometimes almost dominate their books? Authors like Jaye L. Knight, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and Janette Oke are a few of the authors I’ve found who do an exceptional job of writing sweet/clean but incredible romances. However, many other authors of YA-adult romance that I’ve read by have at least a little bit of sensual content or else something like shallow romance/premature kissing. *wrinkles nose*

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I’m not saying all of it is simply sinful! But I do think heavy sensuality is definitely crossing the line.

To tell you the truth, I’m just plain getting tired of reading these type of romances. Give me a Jace and Kyrin love story (Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight) and I’m thrilled and my heart is sighing because it’s just so beautiful, meaningful, and long-awaited. It’s true love. Whereas the sensual romance focused all on physical and self has me sighing for a whole different reason. They’re so focused on physical desires that they have no time for honoring God or honoring/loving each other. It’s shallow. It has little meaning to me. It definitely doesn’t grow my faith or teach me more about the godly marriage Christians should seek.

Marriage is meant to be sacred. A holy covenant. A beautiful relationship. A godly romance. A delightful friendship. A loving team.

Are the books we read conveying that?

Are we waiting for that, saving ourselves for that?

Also, in a world where we’re bombarded by sexual temptations and depravities right and left, is it okay for us (unmarried or otherwise) to read such books? Is it helping, or discouraging our minds from stay pure??

So what are your thoughts? Do you think that a lot of Christian fiction is getting a little too edgy these days? When is crossing the line? Do you think popular Christian romance author, such as Francine Rivers, write tastefully despite some “heated moments” in their romances?

I would love to hear your thoughts! Please join the conversation and comment below!

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** Originally published on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, May 1st, 2015 **

Psalm 139 & Confidence

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13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Powerful. We as humans (and especially as women, perhaps) go around comparing ourselves to others and letting the media tell us what we should look like and how we should act.

Too fat. Too skinny. Too tall. Too short. You need longer legs. A smaller waist. Bigger eyes. And where is the “thigh gap”??

So modest. Pitifully shy. Not enough sass … too quiet and demure. Be more aggressive! Be more sensual, bold, and desensitized to things like innocence and purity.

We can’t measure up. And some of us ruin our lives trying to. Or you’re like me … striving to stay faithful to what you believe about a woman’s appearance and actions – and yet often ending up feeling ugly, stupid, unwanted, not good enough in many situations.

You know what? It’s time to open our eyes to the truth. YOU are LOVED by the KING OF KINGS. He loves and cares so much for you! He lovingly crafted you in your mother’s womb. He has a plan for your life!

Pfft, forget what the world thinks. What do they know? You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

You are not ugly. You are not unwanted. Not unloved. Not a weird person. Not a “dumb blonde”. Not boring and useless. Not stupid.

God looks down and sees His child, whom He loves. HE LOVES YOU. God loves us!

Why all this fear and shame over what people say and think? And this talk of self-confidence … What we really need, is God-confidence. We need to look up and see that our Creator, Redeemer, Father, and Friend treasures us. He never says, “That stupid person”.

So yeah. That’s what makes me confident. The assurance that I’m God’s princess. His daughter. Yes, I’m still quiet, insecure, and “socially awkward” a lot … But my King is showing me more and more that I am so powerfully and abundantly LOVED. And mere, unhappy people’s opinions don’t matter at all when the God of the Universe created, and loves, and is there for me.

Blessings, dear readers. You. Are. Beautiful.

 

** Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, April 18th, 2015 **

Run to His Arms

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Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,

Deuteronomy 33:27

First thing to look at in these verses. No terror allowed, friends. No discouragement. Your Father is the great God of all—King of Kings—you should not fear. Should not be depressed.

Not to say that we as believers don’t fear and become depressed at times. It does happen. I’ve struggled majorly with fear, and a bit with depression as well. But the point is … it’s not like this natural thing that we just have to deal with. God doesn’t want us to be terrified or discouraged. He knows how it harms us. So He’s saying, “I’m here, child. Run to Me and find peace and comfort in My arms. I will fight for you.”

I think depression and irrational anxiety are two of Satan’s tactics to bring believers down. Especially, perhaps, when they’re doing great things for the Lord! Satan hates us, because we are on God’s side!

Sometimes I feel like … “God, I’m finally growing closer to You, and becoming a better prayer warrior, and my fantasy story is coming together—I think it will bring glory to You … And now is when I’m all suddenly dealing with this crazy fear and just listless hopelessness? Why?

Then it dawns on me. Of course! Of course Satan doesn’t want me to grow closer to God. He doesn’t want me to bring glory to God. Or pray for others. So the Enemy strikes me where I’m weakest. And somehow I believe his dark lies time and again. If you read Silver Rose, maybe you’ll understand why Karalee (main character) is the way she is … because her author happened to have those same, very real struggles! :p

Anyway. We are in a battle. Don’t forget that. Or you may succumb to that fear and depression, because you don’t realize you’re supposed to be fighting. –Don’t realize that there’s hope. And that God wants to help you.

Next time you hear those dark whispers, RUN to God! Run to His everlasting arms! Definitely don’t isolate yourself. Read the Bible even when you don’t feel it’s speaking to you. Pray, even when your soul feels dry and faithless. Talk about your struggles to fellow believers who will encourage you and just hold you up.

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I once heard this profound thing that just stuck with me: “Even when your heart can’t feel it, even when your mind can’t believe it, move forward in obedience anyway.” Keep moving in faith. Even when you can’t feel it.

And remember, God is here. And the victory is ours through Him.

 

** Originally published on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, April 24th, 2015 **

Book Review For Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?

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My Personal Review ~ 4.5 stars ~

This was a great Christian Living read! Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield speaks to real struggles with frankness, applicable ideas, hope, and a generous dash of humor. These ladies know how I feel! *smiles* After just finishingFearless by Cheri Fuller, this book felt like the perfect companion read. It addressed fear and anxiety – talked about facing life with courage and prayer – like Fearless, but was a bit of a lighter read and had me almost laughing out loud many a time!

Basically, Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? helps you to be upfront with yourself, face your fears, and ask yourself if you’re going to keep hiding, or live the abundant life God has called you too. Honestly, people like myself, who struggle with fear, anxiety, depression, or listlessness, need books like this! I very much recommend. It’ll get you laughing while taking a look at your heart.

What did I learn? Run to God as soon as the fear/hopelessness hits! Pray continuously. Live life! Laugh! Walk by the Spirit. Sometimes I think we just take ourselves too seriously. God didn’t mean for us to live in bondage (whatever that may be), but to be FREE, walking by His Spirit. Trusting Him. With all that we are.

Easy to read, humorous, real, and heartfelt, Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters has the potential to help a lot of women realize they don’t have to hide anymore. God has it all under control. They’re alive and breathing, and He has a plan! I thoroughly enjoyed.

I received a copy of Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

** Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life June 18th, 2017 **

Book Review For Fearless by Cheri Fuller

fearless

My Personal Review ~ 5 stars ~

Those who struggle with fearfulness/anxiety, I highly recommend you read Fearless: Building a Faith That Overcomes Your Fear by Cheri Fuller. Not only does this book speak, with understanding, directly to your struggles, it provides practical ways to deal with them, insightful stories, and almost every page breathes the reality of God’s protection and all-knowing-ness and perfect plan into your heart.

It was easy enough to read, each chapter teaching and forcing you to take a look at your life and your fears. You discover that many people face the same struggles … see how they dealt with them … see how fear often is just our own imagination ruining our chances for an abundant life.

I learned lots of doable ways to manage my fear and anxiety – I’ve even been putting some of them into practice! And with good results, I must say. Prayer was a big thing that Fearless focused on. Just what I needed!

For all the encouragement and tips it gives, this book ultimately challenges us with this – Are you going to trust God with your day, your life, your salvation, your eternity … this moment? I finishedFearless with an desire inside to be just that. Fearless! Have the courage to do all the things I’ve been scared to do – all the things God’s calling me to. And I left with this incredible peace that, no matter what happens, God is ALWAYS. And heaven awaits.

Wow. Great book. I should have read it sooner!