So, somewhere around December 31 or January 1, you renewed your resolve to read God’s Word daily. Or maybe you set a goal to complete a new study plan or stick with a specific reading schedule.
You pictured yourself with a steaming cup of coffee, a new journal with freshly-filled pages, and the first hints of sunrise streaming in your window onto your open Bible lighting your already glowing face.
This, you decided, will be the year I really read all the way through. Or, This will be the year I study XYZ topic.
Then January 2nd happened.
Or maybe it was January 10th. In any case, you overslept, couldn’t find your journal under the mess you had meant to clean up the night before, and didn’t feel much like reading anyway. Continue reading
Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles?
Repeating the same struggles.
Relearning the same lessons.
Remembering the same truths.
Regaining old victories.
Over and over and over.
How can we be growing in grace and increasing in the knowledge of God when we’re simply traveling in circles? Continue reading
I purchased my first goat as a thirteen-year-old fresh out of the city suburbs. I had no idea what I was in for.
I named my new pet Sarah Jane, but my mom called her, “the big, black villain”—mostly due to her size and color. Mostly.
Exactly one day after my purchase, Sarah Jane had four kids. And I had my hands full. Sarah Jane nursed two of the kids, and I bottle fed the other two.
Bottle feeding goat kids is fun. They’re energetic, cute, and always look like they’re up to something. Healthy kids attack a bottle the moment it’s within leap reach. They drain it quickly and use every trick they know to coax for more.
But one morning, when the kids were two weeks old, one of them showed no interest in her bottle. Zero. Her ears drooped, and she made little effort even to be petted. I remember the concern that gripped my heart as I called the farm where I had purchased her mother. Continue reading
I woke up this morning with the keen realization that 2014 is almost over. It’s a lazy sort of morning with few plans, so I took several minutes to reflect on the incredible blessings of God’s goodness and grace this past year before peeling myself out from the covers.
It’s been the sort of year that makes me deeply thankful to belong to the Good Shepherd. As I think back over the months, they’ve had their challenges, but each month has been overflowing with God’s grace and kindness.
As I opened my Bible for my morning reading, vital dots began to connect between the blessings of 2014 and the book in my hands. Continue reading
Of all the books I’ve read, my hands down favorites have been the biographies of great Christians.
I know that, technically, there is no such person as a “great Christian” in the sense that we’re all made from dust and one person is just as human as the next. But that very fact is what is so encouraging about biographies. It is the record of ordinary Christians who have a great God who has used them in a great way.
Over the years, I’ve read many biographies of great Christians and have been blessed, challenged, and stirred by each of them. What are the benefits of reading Christian biographies? There are many, but here are five I’ve noticed taking place in my own heart as I’ve read: Continue reading
For a perfectionist, particularly a type A perfectionist, the word excellence has a nice ring to it—a seductive ring.
You say I should pursue excellence? Sure! I’d be glad to. In fact, I’ll do more. I’ll insist on excellence—at every level, in every realm.
Yes, for me, excellence easily becomes a trap. What should be a quest to bring glory to the Lord by striving for excellence turns into a quest for personal glory by insisting on perfection.
And that’s just the beginning! For the past several weeks, I’ve been jotting down observations of what exactly it means for me to turn excellence into idolatry.
Confession is good for the soul…and perhaps helpful to others with a similar bent. So here it goes: Continue reading
Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.
Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:
First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.
Second, I’m confident that they would not be a help to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.
You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.
I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.
Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding. Continue reading
Just this week, Striving Together Publications released a new daily devotional by Pastor Chappell: A Word to the Wise: Practical Advice from the Book of Proverbs.
With a devotional reading from Proverbs for every day of the year, this book is perfect as your daily devotional or as a gift. (Through Wednesday of this week, if you purchase the hardback, you receive the ebook free—so it can be your devotional and a gift! Also through Wednesday, if you purchase multiple copies, you receive further discounts. These are release week bonuses only, however. So hurry!)
Each day’s reading begins with a text from Proverbs followed by a brief action-orientated application. Although the devotions are all drawn from Proverbs, there are support/cross-reference Scriptures all throughout the book. Additionally, each page of the devo includes further reading that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Continue reading
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.—Philippians 2:13
One of my favorite words is hustle. I like it because it is an action word, and I like action. If there is a desired outcome, I want to know how to get there from where I’m at, and then I want to get busy on the first step of action.
For some years, this was my approach, not only to projects or assignments, but to the Christian life. I figured if I could discern what changes I needed to make, I could lay out steps of action toward those changes—and then hustle on the steps to become a good Christian.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. There are some areas in which we don’t hustle, we look to God. And Christian growth is one of those areas. Continue reading
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your gratitude? If you had asked me this spring, I probably would have rated mine about a 8.2.
But then I read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Through this book the Lord worked in my heart to show me how ingratitude had worked its way into my life in ways I had not recognized. Subtle expectations I hadn’t identified and buried pride surfaced.
As the subtitle suggests, this book connects the dots between gratitude and Christian joy. I already knew the two are related, but I was challenged through the book to recognize specifically on what points they connect—namely humility and an outward focus.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in ourselves—even in our service to others—that we become burdened and inward focused. Choosing Gratitude highlights how effective gratitude is to usher us into the presence of God. It enables us to break away from ourselves and renew our joy.
Even today, as I flip back through the book to reread my highlights, I was challenged anew. Here are a few: Continue reading