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

The Kingdom of God is Within You

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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 Blog, Faith, God, Jesus, prayer

Does God Hear Our Prayers?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The podcast I am reviewing this week is a fairly new one, it launched in January 2021. Courtney is the host and the name of the podcast is “Imperfectly Pollyanna: Episode #6 – Where is God When We Pray.” Courtney refers to herself as a Pollyanna;  a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything

Courtney speaks to you like your next door neighbor but gets right to the point. In this episode she provides a few examples of when she has witnessed God show up in her life and how prayers do not always get answered the way we think they will.

“This past week, the world lost an amazing man.  His name was Carman (Carmelo Domenic Licciardello). After a weird year of 2020, imagine the surprise of our tiny church when we were asked to host this legend!  We questioned our ability to make it happen, even had questions on it being wise during the current events.  Yet, there we were”. 

“Carmen’s booking agent reached out to my mother and stated Carmen was touring and wanted to minister in churches throughout the country.  He asked if our church would be open to host him.  My mom was very polite in her southern charm and said while it was an honor to be asked but we are a very small church and did not have the capabilities to do something to that level.  She let him know that she was sure that there were other larger churches in the area that would love to host them.  He said he spoke to Carmen and he wanted to come to our church no matter the size.  It ended up we said yes.”

“Fast forward to January, Carmen had a routine operation, and then complications began happening.  People were praying for him and then he suddenly died the day before he was supposed to go home.  I hurt for his crew and the small churches, I hurt for the people who were inviting their loved ones to upcoming shows in hopes to bringing them closer to the Lord.  I am glad that the Lord saw our family and church worthy to host him.  I am glad for the friendships we made that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.  I am glad for the friends we had not seen in years.  We were able to sponsor two children from Child Fund.  Carmen supported and promoted Child Fund; he didn’t charge for you attend the show.  He offered an opportunity to love the children, to be part of something bigger than you.”

Courtney goes on to explain when she was a teenager, she loved the gospel singer named Michael English. He made some mistakes; one was so significant that he left the gospel singing world for several years.  At the time Courtney was struggling with her own faith.  “I was mourning the loss of my best friend and worrying over another friend who was running from God.  I prayed, for Michael English and my friend, I prayed, I prayed, and prayed some more.  I felt like my prayers just were not heard.  After all, if they were heard, surely God would have answered them.  Surely God cared enough about me and Ben to change hearts, right?”

This is how she saw God move in this situation. “I prayed that God would bring Michael back or my friend back.  I had an answer to a long-time prayer that happened at the National Quartet Convention. It wasn’t the place or time I thought it would be, and at the time I was doubting my prayers were even being heard, much less answered. I was wrong. Michael English was at the National Quartet Convention and he came up on stage and shared his story of redemption.   God knew what each person needed that day, even 17-year-old me.  He had always been listening, he just had a better plan, he had the perfect plan.  I am sure glad God sees the big picture, he knows what we need, when we need it, and how we need it.”

I liked this podcast, it is authentic and Courtney shows us how even when we do not feel qualified, empowered, or perfect for the job, God knows we are. All we have to do is turn it over to Him in prayer and then go on with our lives, to the next thing He is prompting us to do.

It is important to note that prayer doesn’t have to be an hour a day commitment. You can spend five or ten minutes in the morning or at night; better yet send up a word or two throughout the day. God wants that intimate relationship with all of His children and it is formed through prayer.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“God’s command to ‘pray without ceasing’ is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.”
– John Wesley
Co-Founder of the Methodist Church

If you are wondering does hear our prayers – yes, He does. The ones that get answered are the ones that are part of His plan, His will. Which is beyond anything we can imagine.

The Lord is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29

Below are links to the podcast and I am also including a link to a prayer guide that I have found helpful. It is by Kelly R. Baker and there are many good resources within this one document.

Friends, I am thankful for your support. Please leave me a comment if there is anything I can be praying for you about.

Imperfectly Pollyanna: Episode 6 Where is God When We Pray

Child Fund Children’s Charity

Follow Courtney on Instagram

Prayer Guide: What Every Believer Needs to Know by Kelly R. Baker

Follow me on Instagram

Christian Blog, Five Minute Friday, Grieve, Hope, Jesus, Permission

Five Minute Friday: Permission to Grieve

Picture by Cottonbro on Pexels

We have permission to grieve, the past year, for all of the things we lost.  Time with family and friends, warm hugs and the sparkle in a friend’s eye when she sees you for the first time in almost a year.  Laughing over a meal, feeling that joy and connection that you can only obtain when in the presence of someone you truly love. 

We have permission to grieve the loss of a relationship, which could not traverse the chasm of political and social disparity.  The time spent in deep conversation about hopes and dreams for the future, for the love of our Savior and spreading love and the message on our hearts. 

We have permission to grieve and stand in solidarity with our African American and Asian American friends who have had a lifetime of violence and deleterious exploits this year.  We can weep with them, listen to their grief, and put an arm around them in love. 

God gave us emotions as a beautiful gift, to experience joys and love but with that comes sadness and sorrow.  We have permission to feel and hold both at the same time.

Jesus wept for his friends Lazarus and his sister Mary.  You have permission by our creator to feel those feelings of grief and cry, knowing He is there with you weeping, and He gives us hope that there will be joy again soon. 

When Jesus saw her weeping, …he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” Jesus wept.  John 11:33-35

Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Christian Blog, Faith, God, Gratitude, Hope, Suffering

Finding Hope in the Suffering: Part 2

“We talk about the fires or hard things we walk through, the ashes we have to sift through, and then the beauty that we find in unexpected ways from the stories that God has written for our lives” ~Heather Lobe Johnson

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Take These Ashes: Finding True Hope in Our Suffering, with host Heather Lobe Johnson and guest Kristin Vanderlip.” Kristin is a writer and author of “Life Worth Living, A Daily Growth Journal.”  Helping woman to develop a steadfast faith and love of the Lord. 

Kristin begins by sharing her story. As I started to get into my relationship with God, which began as a Catholic, I became more of a rule follower. I knew Jesus came to offer you this abundant life, He is going to save you from sin and bring you peace, abundance, and prosperity.  All of those things worked well for me until they didn’t.  Until I got a real dose of suffering.  Years later I realized that part of my suffering was tied to my expectations that God was going to protect me from suffering. 

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 

“On December 1st our daughter was born.  She had quite a few medical issues.  The statistical evidence that was thrown at me in light of my faith was hard for me to believe, in light of God who can do the impossible, was very hard for me spiritually.  She did pass away at a month old.  We had no support system; we were in Alabama for only 6 months.  The unexpected loss of a child, loss of my career, loss of community, more loss than I could ever imagine.  As if that was not enough, a couple of weeks later my Dad passed away from cancer at age 60.  I felt like God where are you, how could you allow this to happen, where is the abundant life, where is the protection?”

“In the midst of my grief, I kept turning to God because I felt His presents, His undeniable peace, when it didn’t make sense.”

Part of my healing was I had to stop resisting suffering, I had to reframe it in a way as it is not punishment, it doesn’t mean you are not loved or cared for by God.  To see suffering as an invitation and move forward in life and anticipating more troubles are going to come and they are going to hurt and they are going to be unexpected but I will know without a doubt that God’s spirit will help me persevere.  That has been the most transformative.”

Heather interjects, “On a practical level are there other things that have been a comfort to you or other places that you have seen God in the hardships you have walked through?”

Kristin explains, “Every day I started off with a prayer ‘God save me from this, God stop the pain.’  I wanted a miraculous healing for my broken heart, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore.  When I realized this is going to be a process, it didn’t mean I stopped praying, my prayers shifted, to be more aware of your spirit and of your goodness.”

“In the loneliness I turned to writing, I was journaling and writing.  The gift of loneliness was growing in intimacy with God.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Kristin created a beautiful journal, which helped her during her time of suffering. She describes it here:

“Journaling can be such a transformative practice.  If you are a writer or not, you should give it a try.  Most of my journaling is pouring my heart out onto the pages.”

“I ended up using the tools from therapy and understanding scripture more.  I made this journal for myself and it has 3 basic parts.”

  1. Pour out your struggles in a safe space to share your heart. 
  2. Then you pause to think more action oriented, to think about the growth or overcoming that you are seeing in your life.  Not to just get to the end but in a way that gives you hope to see this transformation. Pay attention to what the Lord is changing in you. 
  3. It ends with thinking about what is good, it can be a promise of God that you are focusing on or the cup of coffee you made for yourself that morning, or the text message from a friend that stands out.

Heather wraps up the podcast by thanking Kristin for sharing and stating, “It helps you to see that there is something I control or a promise I can hold onto to.”

This podcast had such rich godly guidance and real-life struggles that I chose to give you the highlights of it and no additional commentary. This was only a third of the actual podcast, Heather speaks more about her story and they both talk about how scripture has promoted healing in both of their lives and how it displayed God’s hand at work in their suffering.

Links to the podcast, Kristin’s journal, and how to connect with Heather and Kristen are all below. I pray this episode along with part one, with Jodi Rosser and Dorina Gilmore, will aid you in discovering God walking along side you everyday.

An amazing story, I was blown away, click below to read it:

This High Schooler Invented Color-Changing Sutures to Detect Infection | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine

Take These Ashes podcast with Heather Lobe-Johnson and Kristin Vanderlip.

Kristin Vanderlip’s journal, “Life Worth Living: A Daily Growth Journal”

Kristin’s website

Follow Kristin on Instagram

Follow Heather on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Christian Blog, God, Hope, Jesus, Suffering

Finding Hope in the Suffering

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What is suffering? Merriam-Webster.com (30 March 2021) defines it: the state or experience of one that suffers: to endure death, pain, or distress; to sustain a loss or damage; to be subject to a disability or a handicap. Hope: is to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true; to trust. As Christians we find our hope in God. 

It was June 2010 and my children were wrapping up their school years.  My son finishing up his elementary career, going from the small Catholic school he attended since 2nd grade, into the public middle school.  My daughter finishing up second grade at that same school she attended since kindergarten.  The news that their father suddenly passed away hit hard, it was like a sucker punch to the gut and took the wind right out of me.  Even though our relationship was not tangible, it was still difficult to fathom, and my children still needed their Dad. 

During the hardest storm I have ever been through I thought, how am I going to get through this?  I was grateful that my faith was strong and I prayed a lot but during that time I needed people more than I ever did.  At the time I didn’t realize how much my soul needed friends and family, I didn’t know what I needed, but God did.  He answered the prayers I did not know to pray. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

The people God sent into my life were such gifts and blessings.  When I was at my lowest someone would call or text me and it would bolster my outlook for the day. They brought so many meals, took my children so I could have time to myself and the kids could have a distraction from the sorrow.  They helped me pack up the only home my children knew to move to the next town over.  It was such a gift and it gave me hope that things would get better.  God showed me there is hope in the people who answer His call to care for those who are suffering. 

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  2 Corinthians 1:6

Leading into Easter I thought it would be appropriate to write on suffering.  This will be a two-part blog series on that topic.  The podcast I am reviewing this week has a very similar story line to mine.  The name of the podcast is “Depth with Jodi Rosser: Walk, Run, Soar.”  She is interviewing one of my favorite authors, Dorina Gilmore-Young, author, speaker, Bible teacher, and spoken word artist. 

Jodi asks Dorina, I know you shared that running was part of your healing in your grief. I’d love for you to share more about that.  Dorina’s reply, I will provide some context of my life, I moved to central California after college, I was a journalist.  I started attending a church and met my husband Ericlee.  He had a connection to Haiti; his grandparents were pioneer missionaries there.     He decided to put on a mission trip to Haiti which I also attended.  When we came home, we started to date, were engaged the following summer in Haiti, and then married in 2003.  We had 3 daughters and started a non-profit in Haiti.  Then in 2014 my husband received a diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma cancer.  We had this momentum serving the Lord, he was very healthy, a runner and a triathlete.  His body deteriorated very quickly; in three short months Ericlee went to heaven. I found myself a widow at age 37 with three daughters, ages 2, 5, and 8.  Everything in my world fell apart.  It has been 6 years and God has done so much in my life to redeem me from that situation.  Running has been part of that therapy, just going and moving through grief.  I found that physical movement helped me to move through the emotional grief and even spiritual questions I had.  When I ran, I would ask those questions of God and He could handle them.  You never get over the grief but the running helped me to move forward.

Jodi goes on to speak about another chapter from Dorina’s book “Walk, Run, Soar, called Traversing Life’s Trails”.  “You talk about how running a trail race is different than running a regular race.  When you are on the trails you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what is ahead.  This seems so much like 2020, the uncertainty of what is coming.  Can you tell us what you learned from this trail run?”

Dorina states, I started trail running with a group of friends after my husband’s death.  Trail racing is different than a road race. Even if you know the trail in different seasons it will be different, the ground may be more wet or the grasses are higher or rocks in different places. I was running and reflecting on what God was teaching me on my grief journey.  As I was running, I couldn’t find the pace. I am going uphill and thinking about how life sometimes is uphill and hard, feel that strain on your muscles as you are climbing.  Toward the end of the race this woman in back of me says you  are running a great race, thanks for pacing me.  I turn around and quickly introduced myself. Then I realized she was trained by my husband and it was so neat how God had us meet on this trail.  She was encouraged by me pacing her and I was encouraged to meet her, someone who had a connection to my husband.  In life sometimes the thing that keeps us going is knowing someone is coming up behind us, kids, friends, and people we are mentoring just by our example.  That is what God reminded me on that day. 

I love how Dorina points out that our faith and how we live it out is a way of mentoring to those around us.  Reflecting our faith, shining the light of Jesus in our family and community.  When we are there for another person who is hurting, showing love to those who we don’t think deserve it, or just saying thank you for your hard work to the grocery store clerk.  This is being the hands and feet of Jesus. 

I want to thank all of my friends who were there for me during my most difficult time, walking out your calling from God.  Krista, Ellen, Marie, Karen, Jonna, Eileen, and my best friend who continues to be there for me today – Joan.  I cannot forget to mention my Mom Corinne; couldn’t have done it without you.  All of you are so dear to my heart and I will forever be grateful for the love and kindness you showed to me and my family!  I pray that you will continue to see the hope in walking out God’s calling, continue to listen to him speak and nudge you along the way. 

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

There was so much more to this podcast that I could not include here.  I highly recommend you listen to it.  Also, Dorina has her own podcast called “Walk, Run, Soar”, it is the intersection of faith and running.  I will link to that and her book below. 

Praying for a reflective Good Friday and a joyful Easter morning for you and all of your families! God bless.

A little Easter fun: 

Depth podcast with Jodi Rosser; “Walk, Run, Soar. With Dorina Gilmore-Young” 

Dorina Gilmore-Young’s podcast “Walk, Run, Soar” 

Dorina Gilmore-Young’s Book “Walk, Run, Soar” 

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

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 Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, Garden, Green, Jesus, Seeds

Five Minute Friday: My Green Garden

Photo by Pasja on Pixabay

Last year, along with most of the world, I started a raised bed garden.  This was new to me; I never planted a garden.  Our raised garden bed is located in the back of our property, on the flat part of the hill, and honestly, I didn’t realize it was there until we were in the house for about six months. 

Since we have bunnies and chipmunks, that live in our yard, I decided not to go with green leaf lettuce and reduce the temptation.  The planting consisted of just peppers, green jalapeno, green sweet, and banana peppers. 

It amazes me how a seed germinates, puts down roots and sprouts.  With some water, sunshine, and a little time it starts to sprout little green stalks.  It makes me think of the relationship we have with God, with time, energy, and being in the word, our relationship flourishes.  Like the little green plant that burgeons from the fertile soil. 

This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed.  “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31-32

The best part of growing my garden, beyond the obvious fruits of my labor, was the time I got to spend with my 21-year-old son.  Since we did not have a hose that could reach out to the garden bed, every other day, like clockwork, my son and I would haul huge buckets of water, up to the garden to water it.  The conversations we had about his day and what was going on in the garden grew our relationship.  What a special unexpected gift that I received as part of my new garden.  I will miss those chats this year as he is graduating college in May and will be moving out of state.  I pray that you can grow your garden in addition to your relationships and you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor.   

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”

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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

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