Archive for Books
“He requires only that our love be ardent for Him and our hearts be willing to love others in the same way. Simple as that.” ~Mary DeMuth (p. 31)
In chapter 3, Mary explores “the VOW factor” and making promises. Do you make promises? To yourself? To others? As I read this chapter, I thought to myself, “I’m not one that makes many promises to other people. I don’t make many to myself either – at least not outward ones like New Year Resolutions. I may try to hold myself accountable to a standard or certain behavior, but I try to go easy on myself if I fail.”
Maybe I have learned already that I fail when I try to make vows to do certain things. Certainly I have…lose so many pounds, spend so many hours doing this, keep the house clean all the time. I kind of laugh at myself when I think about it. I have failed so many times that I’ve finally learned to let go of the promises. I try to strive for a goal, but I allow grace to work in my life.
I was glad to hear Mary reaffirm this for me in this chapter. She revealed to me what I hadn’t realized as I was learning my lessons. She points out that vows are our “internal determination to fix our lives without God’s help.” And yes, this is why I fail. I wanted to slap myself and say “DUH.” It’s so simple. We cannot do anything of our own accord. We must rely on God. If we try to do it on our own, failure is certainly in our future. So even though I’d learned this through experience, I was really glad to hear it explained plainly to me.
Or maybe it just clicked this time.
Do you make vows? Why are you making them? And have you realized what you’re doing when you’re making a vow? We make vows out of fear of giving up control, out of lack of trust in God, and stubbornness. Mary suggests we do this to protect ourselves instead of trusting God with that job. We are led to believe we can take care of it ourselves, but we are mistaken.
There was a passage in this chapter I wanted to speak to because I see this too often and feel strongly about it. I never really considered it in the context of making vows, but it does make sense. Mary says near the end of the chapter, “If I continue to worship the idol of self-protection…I’ll keep holed up in my house, preferring the safety of my little family to the big, bad world outside my front door” (p. 30). Think about that. Are you vowing to protect yourself and missing out on what’s outside your door? I have seen this countless times to greater and lesser degrees, and I wonder now if people do this out of self-protection. I’ve heard a variety of explanations, but I believe it comes down to this. And I do not aim to be accusatory – I have been there before and will admit to trying to protect myself. But there is joy in giving over this job to Christ. There is so much we can do for our Lord when we stop vowing to protect ourselves. I’ve been there too, and it’s why I encourage you to think about this.
As I go forward in my walk, I want to consider more regularly whether or not I am making vows. I want to live a life with the only vows I make be that of loving God and people He has created. I want to trust in God more fully, and allow Him to be my protector. What about you?
Other things to think about (p.31):
* What vows have you created over the course of your life?
* What does self-protection look like in your life?
Today, I’m taking a look at Chapter 2 of Mary DeMuth’s book Everything!
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16
I love this verse! I had it engraved on a necklace years ago. I don’t wear it nearly enough anymore. It has always been a great reminder for me of what it is I am living for.
The gospel. Do we throw this word around too lightly? Do we really have a good understanding of what this is? Are we really living out the gospel in our daily lives?
And what is the Gospel? DeMuth starts off the chapter recounting how she remembered the truths of the Gospel we claim as truth. The five fingers of our hand offer a good reminder for these truths:
* We are all sinners
* Sin results in death
* God sent Jesus to Earth and he led a sinless life
* Jesus died on the cross as atonement for ALL sin
* Jesus rose from the dead and will return for His people
So, we believe all of this but do we live our lives so that people SEE this every day. Do we live the Gospel fully? I will be first to stand up and say “No.” I fail horribly. “I haven’t willingly suffered for the sake of the Gospel. I haven’t counted all things loss. I haven’t given Jesus everything. Instead I cling to my possessions, relish my comfort, and spend a great deal of time seeking earthly peace” (p. 17). Me too Mary. You described me perfectly. And I can’t even blame it on not hearing the gospel in our church. I’ve been blessed having found a church that teaches the gospel, and doesn’t just emphasize the “All you do is progression.” But I am afraid. I don’t know what it’s like to live outside of comfort. I take the comforts of my American life for granted. And it’s hard to trust someone else with that even if I can intellectually understand that God WILL take care of me.
I wonder if I will ever fully live the Gospel like the members of the early church did in the book of Acts. I would love a life filled with joy like that. And it comes down to whether or not I’m willing to “live in [the gospel's] tenets, giving up our wills, our agendas, our fears, our everything” (p. 21). And these are things I am still working on even though I’ve been a believer for 15 years now.
What about you? Are you living the Gospel fully? Are you willing to live that everything life that comes from laying down everything like the men and women of the early church?
Feel free to share your thoughts on this. Here are a couple questions from the book that got me thinking about living the gospel:
1. Have you ever heard the gospel presented as All You Do Is…? Or have you thought of it that way? If so, how has that view of the gospel brought disillusionment?
2. Who in your life emanates the gospel? What about that person intrigues or draws you?
“When the world careens out of control, we can rest in the fact that God spun this world with a simple word. Matter from emptiness. Beauty from void. Community from chaos.” ~Mary DeMuth (p.5)
The first section of the book asks us to examine our minds – our thoughts – about God. In Chapter 1 we look at cultivating the discipline of astonishment. There are five truths presented that help us in this endeavor:
1. God Creates
2. God is Other
3. God Redeems
4. God Sees
5. God Inhabits
When we think about these statements and read the scriptures that go along with them, we are likely to be astonished by God. For me, the idea that God creates is HUGE. It is what brought me to Christ in the first place. I looked around me at age 16 and couldn’t accept that anything but God could have created our world.
And to know that He is beyond anything I can understand, and has done for us on the cross what I could never repay, and sees me even now as I type, and despite how wretched I am he dwells within me… well to be honest is scares me a bit. I cannot comprehend it all, and have to rely on faith. These truths bring me to my knees in astonishment, amazement, and awe!
And yet I can forget. I can get in the habit of trying to do things on my own when I have this awesome God who I can rely on. I too, am guilty of “insulating myself, minimizing the risk so I don’t have to fling myself into the arms of this wild God” (p. 7). Because what might happen?
Here are some questions to think about:
1. How does knowing God created everything from nothing influence your behavior? Or does it? Why/Why not?
For me knowing that God created all that is around me brought me to Christ. I find that I am in constant awe of the natural world around me. Yet in this admiration for nature, I find that I am not as astonished at humanity. God created us too, but I sometimes struggle with being patient and loving because (let’s be honest) it’s hard. People don’t make it easy. But if I can train my mind to think about people in the same way I do about nature, then maybe I would be making myself more usable by Christ.
2. When was the last time you truly felt the Holy Spirit living in and through you? What were the circumstances of life the?
This was a hard one for me. I don’t pay attention to this nearly enough. After thinking about it for a few days, I realized that the Holy Spirit really was in me after my sister-in-law was pregnant. I had a really hard time with the fact that she was going to have a child before me (even though I wasn’t trying for that at the time). I felt very angry, but through the emotional turmoil, God worked. When my nephew was born, I believe the Holy Spirit was in me as I reached out to her in a way I never had been able to before.
As you go forward in cultivating the discipline of astonishment, think about this: Do you measure God by human standards? Write down 3 things that show you how much more God is that we are. Maybe you could share these here with us. If you have other thoughts or insights from Chapter 1, please share with us! I can’t wait to hear what you learn!
I want to whet your appetite for this book by sharing some thoughts on the preface of Everything by Mary DeMuth!
We are all on a journey, and we each have a choice to make about what kind of journey it will be. Mary DeMuth invites us along on an “Everything Journey” as we delve into her book.
In her introduction, she asks the question, “What accounts for maturity, the hallmark of growth?” Maturity and growth in our spiritual lives are a goal for many of us. We look at other women and wonder how do we get to be like them. (Ok, maybe you aren’t asking that, but I know I am.) I desire to grow in my walk with Jesus. I want to be what Mary calls an “Everything Christian,” a person who has figured out the “secret” of giving over their everything to God.
It’s not such a secret really, but many struggle to get there. As we move towards this type of life we have to bring everything under God’s hand. Our heads, hearts, and hands. And this book aims to help us examine what we think (heads), who reigns in our lives (hearts), and do we obey in every moment (hands).
Are you willing to join us on a journey toward this Everything life? We will start looking at the first chapter on November 16th!
I recently got my hands on the book Everything by Mary DeMuth, and I decided I would like to lead a virtual book club here on the GodlyGals blog. Here’s what Mary herself has said about her book:
“I don’t write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon. The last think I want to do is provide a ‘how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps’ guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It all matters. Everything.” ~Mary DeMuth
To give you all some time to get your hands on a copy, we won’t publish our first post until November 16th.
I have heard wonderful things about this book, and I am very excited to start reading! I will be using the FREE study guide that has been made available on Mary’s website. You should definitely check it out!
Today is Good Friday, and I will be off to a Tenebrae service this evening. A friend of mine invited me again this year, and asked if I would read a passage for the service. I’m looking forward to an evening of quiet reflection on the significance of this day.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross and what it means for us as believers. God required a propitiation for sin. That could only be achieved through the shedding of innocent blood – historically that was why the Hebrews sacrificed spotless lambs before God. But that wasn’t enough, so God in his infinite Love and Mercy provided a way to make it so that our debts could be paid. Jesus.
He suffered and died for our sakes. That we might have life eternal. Sometimes I still can’t put my head around it, but God has increased my faith that I might believe it even though the enormity of it still boggles my mind.
But His death is not the end of this story, because on the third day, there was an empty tomb.
I had been thinking about that a lot this week. What’s so important about the empty tomb? I mean, Jesus could have be resurrected and left the stone closed over the tomb, right? But would people still have believed?
I think the event of finding the empty tomb is so critical to our understanding of the resurrection, and for the people of that time it was necessary for them to accept Jesus as the King.
Lee Stroble wrote a bunch of those “Case for” books, and my husband just happened to have the one about Easter. I dug it out, surprised by the thinness, and dove into the investigation of the Resurrection. I was also surprised that one chapter was devoted entirely to the empty tomb. The Case for Easter is a short and easy read -one you might consider reading if you want some greater background knowledge regarding the resurrection.
At the end of the chapter where Stroble interviews William Lane Craig, Ph.D, D.Th there is this question that got me thinking:
Read Mark 15:42-16:8, the earliest account of Jesus’ burial and empty tomb. Do you agree with Craig that it is “stark in its simplicity and unadorned by theological reflection”? Why or why not?
So I went back and thought about this some more. Stark. Simplistic. Unadorned. Things that stood out to me were these:
* Jesus died quickly, and it was something Pilate marveled over.
* Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body and laid him in the tomb.
* The stone was rolled into place.
* Women came with the intent of anointing Him.
* The women found Jesus gone and were amazed.
I do agree that this passage is simple and to the point. It seems to capture the events that happened without much commentary. If this is the earliest gospel written, it seems that it simply captured what happened so that people could know. And it is easy to understand. There is nothing here that we can really question about deeper meanings, or what ifs….
It’s simple. Jesus died. He was buried. And then his tomb was empty. No one seems to disagree that the tomb was empty. And it happened to clearly illustrate to us that God is greater… that he was no longer confined by death! It is the reason we celebrate Easter – the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection of Jesus is symbolizes.
Have a Happy Easter everyone!
Podcast: Play in new window
The ladies chat about e-readers (Kindle, specifically) and the prospect of reading God’s Word on them.
Have you tried an e-reader? Found any really fabulous copies of the Bible for them? Share with us!
A while back, Elizabeth posted about the True Woman movement. I read and signed the manifesto and starting thinking more about this life that is mine – a woman of God. Another friend had just finished reading Let me be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot, and I thought what a good title to read as I consider who I really am in Christ.
This quote, in the fourth chapter struck a chord with me, and I felt compelled to share with you. Elliot is speaking about being a woman…
It is very far from being a triviality. It is our nature. It is the modality under which we live all our lives; it is what you and I are called to be – called by God.
I suppose this is nothing new. We know that we are women. We know the implications. Or do we? Do we regard being a woman as something special? Sacred? Do we acknowledge that it was no mistake that we are women, called by God to live as such? I know that I can drawn in by what the world defines as “woman” and I needed this reminder – being a woman is not trivial.
I’m not going to prescribe what our lives should look like, because even though we are all women our lives will look different. I am charging each and every one of you to look to the Word. Know what it means to be a woman, and embrace that we are called by God to this modality!
For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 1Cor 11:8
A little while back, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a copy of this bible for review and I am pleased to be able to offer one of you a copy!
The Life Recovery Bible is today’s #1-selling recovery Bible and is based on the 12-step recovery model. It was created by two of today’s leading recovery experts, David Stoop, Ph.D., and Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed., to lead readers to the source of true healing—God himself.
This bible is full of features for people who are going through either 8- or 12-step recovery programs, including devotions based on the Serenity Prayer. In all, there are more than 50 devotions in this bible and it is one that would benefit any person — no matter if you are involved in a recovery program or not. Everyone has struggles and I think that many of the features of this bible would be helpful to any reader. It’s in the New Living Translation, which is one of my favorites for daily reading. Very easy to understand and engaging for someone who is new to reading scripture.
If you would like to enter to win a copy for yourself or to give to a friend who may be in need, here are the ways you can do so:
- Leave a comment [first entry]
- Follow this blog & comment saying you’ve done so (Google Friend Connect on the right) [extra entry]
- Follow us on Facebook & leave a comment [extra entry]
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- Tweet about this giveaway & comment leaving link [extra entry]
Five possible entries! If you already follow us on either Facebook or Twitter, just leave a comment saying that. A comment must be left for each extra entry!
The giveaway will end Monday, September 6 @ 6pm CDT. Winner will be announced Tuesday.
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Over the summer I was given the opportunity to read and review a copy of Voices of the True Woman Movement by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, with contributions by John Piper, Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Janet Parshall. Don’t worry! This isn’t your average review. Over the next few days I will be going through each chapter and sharing a few of the gems with you.
This book has already been a blessing to me and I’m not done with it yet. I hope that what I share with you here will be encouraging and challenging at the same time. I know that Voices has been just that for me.
* * *
The first chapter of the book is written by a man. Odd, I thought, at first glance. But it’s John Piper and who doesn’t love a word from him?
Okay, I’ll admit it. I haven’t always enjoyed John Piper. But to explain that you have to know a little bit about my background and it’s very touchy-feely, spiritualish, “if you’re not feeling ‘the Spirit,’ then you’re not right with God.” There’s a lot of really bad theology there, but now’s not the time to address it. The point is — feel feel feel. And the vibe I got from Piper was anything but. I was a growing Christian though. At the time, people who focused so much on theology were a real turn off from the faith for me. Why do they spend all their time sitting around talking about the nature of God instead of serving God? That was a regular thought of mine back in the day.
As I grew, I learned. And one of the things I learned is the assumption that Piper brings to the first chapter.
Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. – Piper, 17
Wow. Wimpy? Really?
Yes. What I have learned over the years, and what Piper so aptly points out, is that we must know our God to serve our God.
Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. – Piper, 19
So true. We are here, our entire purpose is, to display the glory of Christ. How can we do that without really knowing Him?
In this chapter, Piper lays out the plan for married people and singles, showing how each of those roles are created to serve the Lord. He challenges the reader to dive deeper into a relationship with the Father and encourages us wherever we may be in life by letting us know that we have a purpose and explaining in plain language how we can act on it.
Though the singles section no longer applies to me in the same way, I found it to be the most beautiful and the most applicable. All of it is good and there’s no way I could pick just a few lines to represent all that he shares here (so go out and get this book!), but I’ll leave you with some of his closing words. (Emphasis mine)
[Wimpy theology]…is beneath you. God is too great. Christ is too glorious. True womanhood is too strategic…Your womanhood — your true womanhood — was made for the glory of Jesus Christ. – Piper, 25