Christian, Christian Blog, God, Hurting

Drawing Close to God When You are Hurting.

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels

There were several occasions in my life when I walked through difficult times and yearned to draw close to God. Losing a marriage, the passing of my husband, diagnosis of cancer and numerous surgeries, thankfully these did not all occur concurrently. Each time I turned to God in prayer and mediated on his word but what Sheri Rose Shepherd brings to the table is the practical application of God’s word during hardships.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is another favorite of mine called “Grit ‘n’ Grace, Episode #218”, with hosts Cheri Gregory and Amy Carroll. Their guest is Sheri Rose Shepherd, author of “Beyond the White Picket Fence: What to Do When Your Life is Dismantled.” For the past 30 years, Sheri Rose Shepherd has been in full time ministry as a best-selling author, speaker and the founder of His Princess Ministries.

Amy poses the question, “Your new book “Beyond the White Picket Fence” shows readers how to heal in a time of crisis. So, what led you to write such a book?” Sheri Rose replies, “Well, when I was going through the last five years of losing my family, losing my health, I was in my own personal shutdown, if you will lock down for four solid years from illness alone, and heartache. And I was trying to find some answers of like, God, where are you in this? How do I get through this, and I parked pretty much in the book of Job, because I felt like I’d walked through everything he walked through all at once. I felt like there wasn’t enough practical information, how to walk through something. In the book I take you through everything, the chapter names: betrayal, diagnosis of a disease, the death of a loved one. One thing that I learned or didn’t learn was how to cry. So, I would use the word almost like a band aid to not have to feel pain, to not have to see the wound if you would.  And what I realized is the simplicity and the gift of tears. Like when people say, how do you get up, and I said, I learned to ask the Lord what to do.”

Sheri Rose continues to explain, “The things that God helped me with is one, learning to process my pain, not by band aids, scriptural band aids, but by actually living the scriptures. What does God say to do when you’re grieving? What does God say to do when you’ve been betrayed? Like, how do I personally, processes and then the thing that God showed me is only surround yourself during dark seasons with people that can lift you up. Because that isn’t the time to deal with toxic people. That isn’t the time to deal with dysfunctional people. When a lifeguard is drowning, he can’t save anybody.”

Cheri asks the question, “I noticed you brought up the word “band aid” a couple of times. So, I’m wondering if you could share with our friends who are listening, how could they tell the difference in their own lives between true healing and what you refer to there as just kind of putting a band aid on? How can we tell?”

Sheri Rose states, “So I’m hurting, I’m hurting, I’m hurting. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, you know, I’m going to be healed. He says that he’s close to the brokenhearted. That’s a band aid, as opposed to how do I get close to God when I’m brokenhearted? And how do I get healed when I’m brokenhearted? Where’s the practical application in the Word of God that gets me where I need to go. And if you can’t get to that place, or you can’t find that place in the word, then you got to get to someone like this book, where you can look up betrayal. And you can also use this book more like a manual for a friend that’s going through something too. If you end up keeping that band aid on and you don’t change the band aid and you don’t put disinfected in it and you just keep the band aid on for four years, you’re going to have a horrific infection.”

Sheri Rose’s last thoughts on the podcast, “I think that sometimes we make faith harder than it needs to be. So, here’s what I really want to leave you with. If his burden is light and his yoke is easy, and something you do is making you feel heavy, His grace is not with you for it- do something else. Or it’s just not the season for you to be doing it. Say God what is in this that is a heartache? Is it me operating out of a calling that’s not mine? So really know that God loves you too. And he wants to take care of you, to not just you take care of everybody else. Once I gave that up and trusted God, every single thing came to the light. And every person made things right with me and totally cried their eyes out. All I could say is God used it to free me from needing anyone but him. And for that it was worth it all.”

This podcast was loaded with information and I highly recommend you listen to the full 27 minutes. Sheri speaks about how to kindly tell someone you do not want to talk about what you are going through, her divorce, and how not being bitter helps your outlook and joy in life. Great lessons and another book added to my ‘to read’ list. I pray this podcast will help you to draw closer to God everyday!

A touching video of a mother gorilla at the Franklin Zoo in Boston and a mom with her 5- -week old son. Watch it here.

Grit ‘n’ Grace with Sheri Rose Shepherd

Sheri Rose Shepherd’s book “Beyond the White Picket Fence

Follow Grit ‘n’ Grace on Instagram and Facebook

Follow Sheri Rose Shepherd on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Brokenness, Christian, Christian Blog, God

God Can Use You. Even in Your Brokenness.

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Have you ever been asked to do something and thought there is nothing in my background, my education, my life experiences that has prepared me to carry out this endeavor? I personally have experienced this when I was asked to step into ministry, writing this blog, and now my next project.

What makes it even more arduous is when that still small voice, that nudge from God is pushing you toward that job. In that case, when the Holy Spirit is saying go for it, the decision should be easy, right? It should be because it says in scripture:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Most of the time I still struggle with what I can do, instead of what God can do through me. God can use anyone for his purpose.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is a good one. It is another episode with Lisa Whittle on “Jesus Over Everything, with guest Toni Collier, Season 5 Episode 12.” Toni Collier is a communicator, host and consultant at North Point Ministries (founded by Andy Stanley), on-camera personality at The reThink Group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes public school speaker and co-founder of The Resource Group: A faith based consulting firm.

Toni begins by explaining her backstory. “About two years ago I hit a point where I was waking up with anxiety saying God don’t let me mess this up because for me and my background I came from a super broken family, blended family.  My dad was married twice, my Mom was in an abusive marriage she got divorced and married my Dad and had me.  My Mom was super sick, stroke, and I grew up taking care of everyone.  Anxiety came, I started drinking, smoking, left my parents house at 16, and was just down on a downward spiral for sure. Ended up getting married in my teens, super abusive marriage, so many things and all while this journey of brokenness was going on in my life. You know, I really believe that I felt God saying, no, I still want to use you every step of the way, every mistake every little ratchet club moment. He whispered, I want to use you and I got saved at 21, which was less than a decade ago, and hopped in student ministry, and so many doors opened up.”

Lisa askes Toni this question: “You have a heart to serve.  You love women and love ministry,  your ministry, Broken Crayons Still Color.  What is your mission at this time?” Toni’s response, “I one hundred percent know that I am here to tell people that their brokenness doesn’t discount them.  I am one hundred percent tired of this Christian celebrity culture and we are pretending we are not broken and we are chasing after this perfect idea of our lives.  I think it is diminishing the gospel.  I think it is taking the power of Christ from the throne and replacing it with our perfect lives and perfect reals and perfect stuff.  It is making people go into shame bubbles.  I am about to scream from the rooftops that broken crayons still color and that God can still use us and that he is still working in us and in our lives.”

This question goes to the heart of racial reconciliation. Lisa says, “So, here’s my questions for you. What do you say about the idea there’s room for everyone at the table, and what is the word of encouragement for the women who don’t feel like they have a place, but they really want to serve God?” Toni’s response, “I would say first I get the opportunity to work with an international peacemaking organization called Preemptive Love. One of the things that I hyper focus on is the research around peacemaking. But one of the things that we started to coach people around is literally this phrase, oh there’s room at the table for everyone. And what we say to that is, it is not enough to invite people to your table, because it is yours. It’s your chairs, it’s your room, it’s your house is the way that you do things. Instead, what we should be practicing maybe is it we’re too afraid to go to someone else’s table that believes differently than us, identifies differently with us, lives and votes differently than us, then what we should be saying is something along the lines of, hey, I’ve got a table you can bring your own chair with your ideals with your ideas with whoever and all of who you are, but the step after that is, get up from your table, and go to someone else’s.”

This is my favorite question that Lisa askes of every guest at the end of her podcast and I believe this is my favorite response to it.

“What is the last thing you’d say about Jesus. If you could only say one more thing.” Toni says, “He has been on the sidelines of our lives. Yelling put me in. And we get to say yes. We get to tag him in. But he is on the sidelines, God is not forcing his way through, but just saying put me in I’ve got some power for your weakness.”

Powerful words! Jesus is always there for us; all we have to do is allow him in. When we are weak, he is strong.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friends what are you struggling with you do not feel qualified for? Do you feel inapt to step into the next thing God is asking you to do? Let’s walk through these challenges together, leave a comment below.

Since May is mental health awareness month I am including a helpful guide from Rebekah Lyons “10 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health.” Hope you find it helpful.

Jesus Over Everything, with guest Toni Collier, Season 5 Episode 12

Broken Crayons Still Color Ministry, Toni Collier

Toni Collier’s website

Follow Lisa Whittle on Instagram

Follow Toni Collier on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Christian, Christian Blog, Five Minute Friday, God, Middle

Five Minute Friday: In the Middle

Photo from Pixabay

Isn’t it a great feeling when things are going well, the plans you made are unfolding just as you laid them out, no glitches, no one asking you to do something when you are walking out the door, everything is blissful and on time. 

What about when things are not going the way you planned? You are in the middle of the storm; the waves are crashing around you.  Your mother is in the hospital and you are not sure she is going to make it, your child is sick again and not sure what is causing it, you lost your job and not sure when you will be able to secure a new one and will it pay the bills?

Believe it or not we were made to go through the middle.  Most times I want to skip the middle and get to the end where we are all happy and things are going smoothly but that is not how life plays out.  God made us for hard things, even if it is not where we want to be.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.  Habakkuk 3:19

 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. Isaiah 4:5-6

He never promised us that we would live free from trials but he does promise to be with us through them.  So, walk through the storm with your head held high, looking up, and he will direct you out of the storm.  He will walk with you on that narrow path, to the mountaintop where you are at peace in your soul.  Thank God even while walking through the middle, no matter where we are he is there too, and that is enough. 

Christian, Christian Blog, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Podcast

The Kingdom of God is Within You

Picture from Pexels

Today’s podcast I am reviewing is “The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman: Episode 154 Remembering Who You Are.” I realize I mention this every time I review her podcast but I adore listening to her. Her voice is smooth and light, it reminds me of listening to a grandmother read her grandchild a book or one of the meditation apps you can listen to relax your thoughts after a hectic day.

The motivation to review this podcast was more selfish than magnanimous. It is a topic I must review from time to time as I tend to be hard on my endeavors and question if I am doing what God is asking me at this time?

Emily begins the podcast stating “Today I want to talk about Jesus. I can’t talk about the importance of remembering who you are without talking about who I am. And to talk about who I am, I have to talk about Jesus.”

“I was taught as early as I can remember that the gospel is the plan of salvation. Jesus wants to live inside my heart.  It is not that this narrative is wrong but it is incomplete.   The gospel is not a step-by-step process on how people can get saved.  It is an announcement that the kingdom of God is real and Jesus is the King of that Kingdom.”

“What does that have to do with remembering who I am?  If the gospel is just a formula, then who I am is simply a formula keeper, a rule follower and a box checker.  But if the gospel is an announcement that the Kingdom of God is here now and not only here but within me then that changes everything.  I am not a formula keeper, I am a imager bearer.  Shaping our identity in Christ and determining how we live in his Kingdom.  The stories that we believe about God, ourselves, and the world will always determine how we live.”

Such truth in those words. How many times have you listened to a fire and brimstone sermon and thought that doesn’t sound like a loving God to me? Perhaps your view of the Kingdom of God within you shifts and instead of being a loving presents in you it becomes a harsh hard sentiment.

AW Tozer says that “what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”  Emily states “If that is true then a true view of God will form our lives in Him and a false view of God will deform us away from Him.  Knowing who I am in light of who God is, might be the most important work I do.  As a parent, a friend a wife a writer a teacher a leader this is easy to say difficult to practice.”

“The most profound gift I can give to the people I serve is to honestly, humbly, and regularly practice exposing the false stories I carry and replacing them with the narrative of the God Jesus knows.  Scriptures says if we see Jesus then we have seen the Father.  If we want to know what God is like then look to Jesus.   The power by which we can know the Father and the Son is through the Holy Spirit living within us.  That is our triune God, three in one self, always exalting the other members.”

“We have a good and beautiful God who is filled with love for us. Discipleship is more than a quiet time, and the gospel is more than conversion. It is available life in the Kingdom of God and this is the narrative of how we should then live; as people in the Kingdom of God.  What does that mean in our daily lives, for our relationships, our morning routines, and that annoying person at work?”

“I want to continue to learn the delicate art of walking with Jesus into the lives of other people.  To gently untangle false narratives of God and to affirm true identity in Christ.  This is where true discipleship begins and continues.  Now that King Jesus has come and his Kingdom is here, we have a new choice, a new hope, a power alive within us.  We have been empowered to make God known to the world.  Does this make a difference in how you live?  In Christ you are fully accepted and  a completely loved image bearer and co-creator with him, working toward the renewal of all things.”

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

I love how she focuses on the Kingdom of God within us and how our narrative of God shapes how we perceive God in our lives and literally in us. “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer. If we believe God loves us and know he is for us and never against us, then we can show that love to others. Without it we cannot emulate love to others and fulfill Christ’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Emily was very passionate about this topic, not that she isn’t on other topics, you could sense it was meaningful to her in the highs and lows of her voice. I recommend listing to the entire podcast.

What are those false narratives about God that you are carrying around? Do you believe you will be punished if you don’t pray every morning or every day for that matter? Does God look like a warden to you waiting for you to do something wrong? What is the shape of the Kingdom of God in you? If you feel moved, share your experience with us in the comments section.

I pray you have a wonderful week and keep pushing against those false narratives while sharing the love of Christ in you to those in your daily circle.

Inspiring article on how one woman in Ohio is helping underprivileged in her community with locally grown produce. Hometown Hero.

The Next Right Thing: Episode 154 Remembering Who You Are.

Emily P. Freeman’s website

Follow Emily on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, God, Jesus, Lent, Redeem

Five Minute Friday: Redeemable

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In the middle of creating my next blog post my daughter announces, “Mom, you won’t believe how much money I saved on this skateboard using a promo code!”  My next question was, when did you decide to get a skateboard and are you also purchasing a helmet, wrist, and knee pads too?  Of course, she did but as a Mom it is my duty to ask. 

Promotional codes have taken the place of physical coupons on line.  I remember when you could only redeem a coupon by brining it into the store and presenting to the cashier at the time of purchase.  There were times when I could not redeem the coupon since it required me to buy two of the same items. 

When I hear the word redeem it takes my mind to whom has redeemed me. The questions swirl around in my head am I worthy of being redeemed?  We have been saved by grace through faith, which is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8. That gift is not one I would ever want to return.  It is one that I am thankful I can redeem for the rest of my earthly life.  For when I fail all I need to do is go to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and it is granted.  

The things of this world will come and go but our eternal salvation has been bought and paid for by Jesus.  During this Lenten season let us not forget the sacrifice Jesus gave which grants us full redemption and eternal salvation. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Intention, Jesus, Podcast, Word of the year

What are Your Intentions for 2021?

Picture by Anna Shvets

In January I posted on “How Can One Word Keep You Faithful?” In that post I mention each January I prayerfully consider a word for that year to focus on.  This year my word is love, to show more love toward others, and to listen more intentionally.  Recently I have noticed that I need to show myself a little more love. 

As women, and I know I am generalizing here, we lean toward caring for others before we take care of ourselves.  It may be the way God made us, to be nurturing, or it’s just your enneagram number (or not).  All of the twos out there know what I mean! 

So, why am I going back to a similar topic?  First; if you selected a word for the year are you still being intentional and moving forward focusing on that word in a way that God intends for you?  This podcast will talk about centering on intentions.  Second; I like this podcast, the repartee these two ladies have will make you laugh. You can tell they are good friends and enjoy teasing each other.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is from January 7th, 2021, and it is called “Mary and Martha: Energy and Intentions”, the hosts are Shakisha Morgan and Christina Jones.  They describe the podcast as: “A podcast by two black women who love God; relatable women,  who talk about relevant topics.” 

In the beginning of the podcast both Shakisha and Christina mention a Mary or Martha moment they experienced over the past week.  Before we get into the meat of the intention’s topic, I want to recognize what Christina mentioned as her Mary moment – the rioting at the Capitol.  These are her words, “For me it was like taking a peek at the Tulsa riot, and seeing the anger and visceral that the white people had in that riot and seeing it play out in 2021.  This is how our ancestors felt, when they watched their family and friends get lynched.  This is that same energy, from the 1800 or early 1900s.  That to me it was scary that it still exists in such a palpable way.  It was terrible, horrible, and disgusting, but to me it was seeing a peek at history.  My Mary moment is allowing myself to reflect on my ancestors and my grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and how they must have felt when things like this happened to them in a very hyper local way.” 

I wanted to make sure I didn’t just gloss over this statement.  It is important and I hear you.   Another intention of mine this year is to not only listen more to those around me but to those who are different than me in the community and to understand their point of view. 

Christina begins speaking about intentions: “One of the things I wanted to do in 2021 was not to set resolutions.  It doesn’t work for me.  What I am big on now is intention setting.  A resolution, to me is more of goal setting, more tangible small things, and many times I don’t meet those goals.  If we set an intention for the year, something we want to walk in for the year.  It is something I can go back to and check myself to see if I am meeting those intentions. How we can walk in the intention that Christ has set in our lives, how we can walk in the spirit, how we can make sure our actions and reactions match the same energy that God has.”

An example would be, “your intention can be you want to be more in the present in 2021.”  Here are some ways Christina and Shakisha state you can work on setting an intention: 

  1. Where in your life are you not showing up for yourself?  Do not condemn yourself but you need to make this assessment so you know where you can begin to show up.  Being honest with yourself in this way allows God to show you how He can show up.
  2. What makes you feel like yourself?  Think back to the last time you felt alive, at peace, rested, and safe.  What was happening at that time?  Was I spending more alone time or more time with God?  Be honest with yourself; it is key to this exercise. 
  3. What has God been revealing to you?  God speaks in a quiet still voice, sometimes from others, scripture, or through your quiet time. 

Christina sums it up like this;  “What will make you really settle into your Christian identity, what makes you effective for the Kingdom?” 

Shakisa’s final statement is profound;  “Understand how important intentions can be, no matter what is going on around us.  We are still called to be Christian; we are still called to be disciples; we are still called to be the best version of ourselves with Christ at the center of it no matter what is going on around us.” 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Having Christ at the center of our thoughts, in everything we do, will lead us to becoming more and more like Him.  It can and should be small steps.  I need to continue showing up for myself in relaxing ways and look for opportunities to study the word with other women.  What are your answers to the three questions Christina and Shakisa posed to us?  If you are willing to share, I would love to hear from you. 

A little Good Friday humor:

From Pinterist

Mary and Martha Podcast:  Energy and Intentions

Follow Christina and Shakisha on Instagram:  @shakishamorgan  @christinamichellejones

Follow me on Instagram:  @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter:  @thegodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, God, Pathway, Podcast

What is Your Pathway to God?

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

In the morning I enjoy my quiet time with God.  I start out at breakfast reading my devotionals and then move into my prayer chair, which resides in the bedroom.  This is where I can look out onto our beautiful backyard, see the cardinals and blue birds sprint around, and the daffodils starting to emerge from the soil. During the summer months, when it becomes oppressively warm in North Carolina, I take our dog for a walk after breakfast, and I will pray during my walk.  Either way I am looking at nature and speaking to God.  It connects me to nature and all that God has made.  I present my requests to God, then listen for what He has for me that day. 

Everyone has their own pathway to God.  I was always aware each person had their own relationship with God and had a preference on how to worship Him.  Pathways are new to me.  God created us with different gifts and talents, why assume we all come to Him the same way?

The podcast I am reviewing today is new to me, it is called “Confessions of a Crappy Christian” by Blake.  She is interviewing Gary Thomas, a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others.  They talk about his book “Sacred Pathways.” 

Blake starts out the podcast giving an overview of pathways.  “The different and unique ways we each experience God and how He created us individually to encounter Him in our own ways.  Stop trying to fit into a mold and our relationship with God will thrive and flourish.” 

Gary explains how he came up with the idea for this book.  He grew up learning how to have quiet time with God.  His teachers at church would say when you have quiet time you have to do it this specific way.  “I realized that a one size fits all spirituality does not work.  God did not make us as  cooker cutter Christians.  We relate to him in different ways.  I found out through scripture and the Christian classics how people related to God in many different ways.  Nine pathways or temperaments or devotional styles came out.  I set people free, you can be who God created you to be. Pathways are the windows of how you see God most clearly.”

Gary goes on to explain, “It’s about at different times in life, what is best for you, given who you are and your situation; how you can best connect with God.  I believe everything flows from being loved by God.  1 John 4:19:  We love because He first loved us.”

Gary shares with us a time when he was growing up in the Washington DC area.  He would go out to the battlefields in the Northern Virginia area and just walk in the woods for an hour or two.  It was one of the best ways he could connect to God.  He found that his pathway is a naturalist and this is how he best connects to God.   

“When I spend time with the Lord and am convicted by Him.  I am a much better husband, father, and driver. When I have that time with God, I am able to give more of myself to my family.”  Gary Thomas 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.   Deuteronomy 4:29

The final question Blake asks Gary; “What is the next step, after you identify and understand how you connect with God differently with other people?” Gary responds,  “every chapter has some tests so you can figure out, and you can do it numerically, to say this is who I am, and hopefully you will come away with two or three strong ones.  The point is you can write your own spiritual prescription.  You can identify why you are so angry, anxious, needy, or what your spiritual aliment is and you can say I have really been cheating my time with God.  I am not receiving from God or hearing from Him.  This is where I can be filled up or this is where I can meet God.  At the end of each chapter, it has the temptations, if this is your pathway, be aware of this.  The last part is planting your garden and finding your path or Gethsemane.”

This last statement from Gary encapsulates the meaning of a pathway; “Imagine that your relationship with God is the most life giving, affirming, strength building, inspiring part of your day.  Then it completely takes it out of an obligation, to an invitation, and that is what I want the pathways to do.  To make people jazzed about the fact that I can meet with God today, I can’t wait.”    

When you find your pathway to God, it will bring you into closer relationship with Him.  Then He will take you by the hand and lead you on the narrow path, which leads to life in abundance. 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

If you listen to the entire podcast, they go into more detail about the nine pathways.  It was enlightening and I would recommend it.  The “Sacred Pathways” book is on my ever growing ‘to read’ book list. 

Let me know about your pathway to God; I am interested to hear how you naturally connect with Him.

Some good news from the Goodnewsletter:  A Texas furniture store owner stepped up to help his community after fridged temps and power outages.

Confessions of a Crappy Christian podcast with Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas’ book “Sacred Pathways”

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thgodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Community, Faith, Jesus, Podcast

Made to be in Community

Photo by Dani Hart 

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “Rhythms for Life” with hosts Rebekah and Gabe Lyons. It was recorded pre-COVID and they talk about spiritual community, which I know many of us are missing now a days. I miss that fellowship time before and after church, to see what has gone on in the lives of the people I am supposed to be doing life with. I long for hugs from people I care about and going out in the community and actually handing out sandwiches to the homeless or enjoying a meal with our faith community. This brought about a realization, that God put us here to be in community together, we are communal creatures, and that is the reason we crave it. This is how we build each other up to become stronger Christians, serving each other, and serving the Kingdom.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  Acts 2:46-57

The guest for this podcast is Pastor Francis Chan,  American Protestant author, teacher, and preacher. He is the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA, which he founded in 1994. He also founded Eternity Bible College in 2004.

Rebekah questioned Francis “How has these last few years; rhythms for you, your intimacy with God, shifted in knowing His people more intimately?” Francis said “When I am with people who have a deep personal relationship with God and you gather for prayer together, you can sense God in the room. I do not like prayer meetings, I use to rather be alone with God than be in a prayer gathering. Now I actually prefer being with these people who have been on that mountaintop, that pursue God and now we are going after Him together.”

Rebekah recalls when her and Gabe moved to New York City and she states, “My prayer life grew when I was around people who were as desperate as I was. Who had a close relationship with God.” Francis responded “You are on a mission together.”

Rebekah asked Francis, “What would you say to someone who says this is prompting a yearning or wants to be known?” Francis states “There were things I knew God was asking me to do and I knew I had to take that next step. A big part of it is the mission, many people are just trying to get by. The mission is the biproduct and there is no way I am going to pull this off by myself. We need to be the light in the dark places and make disciples. You need to have a deep sense of the mission”

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

Rebekah posed this question to Francis “What does fruit look like in my relationships and community and serving?” Francis replied “I have to be alone in the presents of God. It is imperative, I fight for it! Otherwise, I am worthless to everyone. I must be connected to the vine, or I will shrivel up and die. To keep that relationship active and be in love with Him!”

Those last two sentences sum it up for me. If I do not have alone time with God, I feel like I am lost, I am hungry and thirsty and need to be fed. Falling in love with God brings us into a closer relationship with Him. We pine for that time with Him, to read the word and hear Him speak to us.

My hope for you is that you take away something that will allow you to spend more time with God. Remember it doesn’t have to be an hour a day, you can spend 5 minutes in the word and reflect on it for a few minutes. Pray in the car while you are dropping the kids off at school. There is time, you just need to find it, take hold of it, and God will take hold of you!

In honor of Black History Month from the creators of the Good Newsletter: Shopping at Black-owned businesses is a way to make our world more equitable. By shopping from these businesses, we have the chance to redistribute wealth and move it into the hands of people who historically haven’t had equal access. (Plus, all of these products are great! The Buy From a Black Woman DirectoryThe Black-Owned MarketBlack-owned Etsy shopsBlack-owned subscription boxes, and Bon Appetit’s list of Black-owned restaurants.

Rhythms of Life Podcast with Francis Chan.

Francis Chan’s book “Letters to the Church”

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, Gratitude, Jesus, Sunrise

Five Minute Friday: Sunrise Sunset

Sunset at the Charleston SC Ravenel bridge

Many people are geared for the morning, they jump out of bed, stretch or exercise right away, ready for whatever may come their way. I on the other hand am not a morning person. If I had my druthers, I would go to bed at 11:30 and get up at 8 a.m.

When I was working a full-time job and had to be at work at 7:30 a.m. I would get up at 5:30 a.m. to arrive on time. Many mornings I would drive to work in the dark but occasionally I would drive in the summer and the sun would be coming up. Although living in upstate New York it was difficult to actually see the sunrise.

When we moved to Charleston, SC, nine years ago, that is when I could really drink in the sunrise. Mostly when I was dropping my daughter off to school. How spectacular the yellow and orange skies were. Being so close to the ocean you can watch the sun coming up over the water. Such wonderful artistry!

God’s creation is so beautiful and it is a shame when we do not appreciate it. When it becomes common place then what? Every day will be the same.

God speaks to us about waking in the morning in Isaiah 50:4. The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. If we are not grateful for what He is putting before us, are we listening to what He says? Are we being obedient?

Since I am more of a night owl than a morning person, I witnessed many more sunsets than sunrises. They were just as beautiful if not more so. It would seem like the colors were richer and more vibrant in the sunsets. I have included a couple of sunsets from our backyard in Charleston.

Hope that you can watch a sunrise or sunset and give thanks to God for all that He has created, that we get to be part of, on our journey through this life.

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, Love, New Systems

There is Another Way

Picture by Arek Socha 

Have you ever watched a person do their thing, that they do exquisitely well, and say I wish I could do that? For example, watching Ina Garten make her delicious Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping, or Joanna Gaines decorate a room with shiplap, rustic shelves, and décor that takes your breath away. Now go one step further and actually try to do it yourself and then totally fail? I have been there, trying to sew like my grandmother did on her machine making beautiful quilts. But alas, I inevitably get the thread from the needle caught around the bobbin and it is a mess! This week’s podcast guest can help you see another way around that “thing” you are attempting to do but were unsuccessful.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “Jesus Over Everything”, or JOE for short, hosted by Lisa Whittle, author, speaker, podcaster. She is interviewing Kendra Adachi, author of “The Lazy Genius Way”.

Lisa begins the interview stating, “You are here to help us embrace what matters and ditch what does not, get stuff done.” Kendra enjoys making new systems for systems that do not work for you. She doesn’t necessarily hack the system but she will make a new system so it works for you. Kendra remarks, “Make a path for something to work, when something that could work for you as it runs, as it is created to be, is already there.”

There are processes that I can look back on and say yeah, I did not continue down that path because the way it was presented did not work for me. But is there another way, another path we can take that will make it work? This is Kendra’s gift.

Lisa brings up a good point, when we try to get tasks done that are not working, sometimes we either try harder or just give up.

Kendra’s reply to that was, yes, totally, we do try harder or give up.  An example could be cooking homemade food.  A woman who has a family and feels like she has to cook a homecooked meal every night.  We think that to make it count we have to do it every night and by Thursday you resent it.  Then you try all of these recipes and cookbooks and you say well I am obviously terrible at this so we are going to eat hot dogs, cereal and frozen pizza from now on.  The next time you want to grill some chicken up you say no I cannot do that I am terrible at cooking.  If we do that in every area of our lives, working out, cleaning, your job, parenting, whatever it maybe, becoming anti recall of these things, go big or go home, try harder or give up.  That is why I wrote my book; it is not all or nothing. We need to create our own system that matters for us not something that works for the person who created the system!

Lisa reaffirms; this is great, there is a third option, and maybe you didn’t consider it.  It is not all or nothing.  Some people feel like they cannot hold two truths at the same time. 

Lisa consistently ends all of her podcasts asking her guests the same question. I believe this part of the podcast is the milk and honey, or coffee and cookies, if that is your preference. “What is the last thing you would say about Jesus if could only say one more thing?”

Kendra’s reply: “That He loves me and how crazy is that?  When I think about the title of your show and that concept of Jesus Over Everything, the over is the emphasized word for me.  When I think about Jesus’ love for me, He is literally over everything.  He is both, that there is a gift to my own life when I basically put that in the number one spot, because He is over everything.  I can let the other stuff go.  The pivot point, the fulcrum, of my embracing what matters and ditching what doesn’t, it is based on the fact that Jesus is over all of it.  Because He loves me.  Is to really experience and believe the beloved-ness of me to Jesus.  That I have to do so much to get Him to love me, to get Him to like me, to be glad that I am around.  Knowing Jesus loves me, if I were to never do another thing again.  Knowing that He cares about everything that is in my life, not because I am poor and weak in spirit but He also created me to be strong and wise and all these other things that He is living out of in me in the world.  It is the beautiful companionship.  The mystery of Christ in me, that is the hope and glory.  It begins and ends with love for me. If I forget that Jesus loves me, then it is all about me again, and then I swinging from trying harder and giving up.  I keep trying harder and giving up and this middle is because of His unconditional love for me.  It takes the pressure off of the all the doing and listing, optimizing my life, or the being this person that other people think I should be.   Jesus loves me and it changes everything.”

That, my friends, is what we need to focus on, that Jesus’ love for us changes everything. Without Him we cannot do anything of real purpose. If we put the focus on us then we lose the connection that we have to the Father and we begin to make our work an idol. When we are weak,He is strong. Jesus is our other way when we are looking at ourselves and thinking how can I do this? His way is the only way that leads us down the right path.

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 2 Corinthians 13:8-9

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

I would recommend you listen to the podcast; Kendra gives a few examples of how to implement her method in your life. Plus, the small talk at the beginning of the episode gives you a glimpse into the beginning of their friendship.

I pray this has helped you in a small way. Let me know in the comments section what is the last thing you would say about Jesus if could only say one more thing?

Jesus Over Everything, Season 4, Episode 36, Kendra Adachi.

The Lazy Genius Way Book by Kendra Adachi

Lisa Whittle’s website

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1