Faith

Love Doesn’t Come From Me

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We love because he first loved us.

We all know 1 John 4:19 by heart. We can recite it forward, backward, and upside down. But how often do we think about the deep meaning of the verse?

I think we Christians have a tendency to “know” all the popular and spiritual verses without understanding them. We have the knowledge in our heads, but it doesn’t reach our hearts. 1 John 4:19 is one of those verses.

I’ve been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind – the unconditional kind. In my pathetic attempts to love people by myself recently, I have discovered just how far my stores of love go. It’s not far. I began to despair of ever being able to love people as the Bible commands.

But then God reminded me that it’s not my job to come up with all the love. It’s His. I can love the people around me (no matter how obnoxious, rude, or just plain mean they are) by using His love. And His love never runs out.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

God performed the ultimate act of love for me two thousand years ago and continues to love me to this very day. It is because of that love that I can love others. And the same holds true for you.

Kira

What verses encourage you through the difficulties of living for God? Are there any that you need to look at more closely for the truth they convey?

Book Review: Passion and Purity

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Every once in a while, a truly excellent book is born. A book that changes the perspectives and lives of thousands of people – quietly. This book isn’t made into a movie. It doesn’t go wild on the internet. It might even be rather slow to sell. But God is faithful and He uses it to further His kingdom, even decades after it was written.

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot is a quiet little book. It’s not particularly long and is the exact opposite of flashy. From the cover to the introduction to the book itself, Elliot creates an atmosphere of peace and rest. I finished this book in the space of only a few days, so eager was I to get back to the comforting read, and then was sorry when it was over.

Passion and Purity tells the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, a gripping and sweet tale that seems as if it could come out of a storybook. But their story serves a deeper purpose, as do all of our stories. Elliot uses their years of joy and pain to discuss faithfulness to God in the midst of romantic relationships – purity in the middle of passion.

I’ve heard this book recommended countless places and will now join the voices urging that everyone desirous of living a pure life read the short volume. Passion and Purity is the first book on relationships I have read (and I have read many) to focus so pointedly on living for God in all your life and not just what to do with these feelings tangled up inside. It recognizes that we were created to glorify God and serve Him alone – even if that goes against what our heart is telling us to do (thank you, Disney, for that worldview). We must not waste these years of singleness and we must not waste future years of marriage. All is for the glory of God.

As much as I hesitate to use the word, “relatable” describes Elisabeth Elliot’s work quite well. She understands what it feels like to want marriage so badly, but to be kept from it over and over. She knows the struggles of submitting yourself to the Lord’s plan for your life. She knows the daily discipline of obedience. And she offers encouragement, through it all.

And so I say, read Passion and Purity. Read it carefully; read it slowly; read it with open heart and mind. Elisabeth Elliot holds much wisdom from the life God has given her and she generously shares it if only we are willing to listen.

Kira

Have you read any good books lately? What made them worth the read?

Use Your Singleness To Glorify God

I was blessed to be published on theRebelution a couple days ago, writing on the topic of singleness, especially as a teenager.


I’m seventeen.

I’ve never been married. Never even courted or dated or any other such marriage-centered things.

But today I want to write to you about marriage.

A lot of us have grown up in the church with loving parents and youth pastors who have given us many valuable resources and talks about relationships and marriage. How to do them well, what to avoid, where the line is that you absolutely should not cross, and so on. These are all wonderful things to discuss and are, I believe, foundational in creating a godly perspective of marriage in those of us who have not yet reached that stage of life.

However, there’s something a lot of those seminars and books and discussions are missing: what to do right now.

Read the rest of this article on theRebelution.

Kira

All is Vanity

Academics are important to me. Good grades, knowledge, degrees. They always have been and I’m sure they will continue to be as I move on to college and (maybe) grad school. I want my education to lead to a good job and success after graduation. I love knowing things, whether they be random facts or how to solve complex problems or the stories of heroes in history. Just having that knowledge always at my fingertips makes me feel good.

What makes you feel good? What seems to give you satisfaction in your life? Maybe it’s friends, work, money, parenting, relationships, or something else entirely. We all enjoy good things.

But Ecclesiastes calls all these things vanity. That paper for history I spent a solid month on? Vanity. All the time you spend with your friends? Useless. Saving enough for retirement? Without meaning.

Solomon, of all people, knew the good things of the world. He had great wisdom and knowledge. He had hundreds of wives/concubines. He was king of a magnificent country with other rulers coming to visit his beautiful land. Solomon knew the world. He eventually wandered into it, forsaking God and giving himself over to the empire of wealth, beauty, and pleasure he had around him.

Ecclesiastes is after all that. Solomon is supposed to have returned to God in his old age and written Ecclesiastes as a book of what he learned, especially in his folly. And what did he learn?

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 1:2

The things of this world aren’t worth it. They may provide comfort and pleasure, but it is only a temporal happiness. Compared to the glorious riches we are to inherit with Christ in eternity, they do not satisfy. They never will.

Praise God, then, that He satisfies us, comforts us, brings us joy. Praise God that He knows what’s best for us and we can trust and follow him. Even if it means giving up all the vanities.

Kira

What gives you joy in this life? Would you be willing and obedient to give it up should the King of kings ask it of you?

From the Archives: Devotions and To-Do Lists

This is a post that I cannot leave behind. It’s still something I have to work through over and over again.

For a different angle on the same subject, you can read this post. A friend of mine wrote it around the same time I wrote mine (the same day, I believe) with no collusion whatsoever. And even though we appear to be of opposite opinion, I entirely agree with what he says.

Originally published: 6/16/17


“Devotions aren’t something to mark off a to-do list.”

I can’t remember when I first heard that, but it’s stuck with me for a long time. The intended meaning is that you shouldn’t rush through devotions to get through the next thing, but should rather spend time on it and put in effort.

What made it into my head though was the literal meaning. I’ve had the subconscious thought for a long time that if I write down the word “devotions” on a to-do list, it doesn’t count. If I actually do them and mark it off, it’s even worse.

For the past few days, I haven’t wanted to read my Bible and so I just didn’t. I of course felt guilty about it and, one day, wrote devotions on my to-do list. I tried to ignore the nagging feeling that it was wrong and told myself that it was the only way that I was actually going to do devotions that day.

That’s when I realized that the guilt I felt is ridiculous.

The idea behind saying devotions aren’t for a to-do list is a good one. We, as believers, need to invest in our relationships with God just like we would other people. We need to spend time in His Word and in prayer on a daily basis in a deeper way than we would spend time on the dishes. The Psalmist tells us that the righteous man spends a lot of time in the Bible.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

But sometimes we just don’t want to. We’re busy or in a bad mood or don’t feel like it or any number of other things. It’s so easy to just shrug our shoulders and miss it for one more day.

It’s only this last school year that I’ve been able to make a consistent habit of doing devotions. The key word there is “habit.” Habits take effort to form. If you wanted to form the habit of running, you’d have to make yourself run regularly, even when you didn’t want to. Day after day, you’d lace up your shoes to log some miles.

Devotions require the exact same thing. It’s not different because it relates to God. It should be a normal part of our lives and we have to work to make it that way. Sometimes running makes it onto the to-do list and sometimes it is enjoyed.

The long term benefits come from investing when it’s hard and when it’s not. If you want to run a marathon, you have to do those long runs that make you want to die. But they make race day easier. If you want to be grounded in God’s Word, you have to spend time in it when there are a million things you’d rather be doing.

So go ahead. Write devotions on your to-do list if that’s what it takes to get it done. Enjoying it is a benefit that comes with time. Even now, when I generally like doing my devotions in the morning, there are still days that I dread the time and have to make myself do it.

The rewards will come, but the foundation must be laid.

Kira

Do you have the joy that comes from just spending time with God? What are you doing to encourage that joy?

Find What’s Best

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Let your weary spirit rest.

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

And be. Just be.

“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

This world is crazy. We don’t need to go over that again. We are all guilty of getting caught up in all of it, of placing mountains of importance on temporary things and forgetting the eternal for a while. That’s been especially true for me this week as I’m once again trying to balance school, work, social life, and all the rest, just like you are, I’m sure.

The song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz is incredible. If you are so inclined, I highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing. The piece that has especially been on my mind lately is the chorus though. He says, “Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”

That’s an easy concept, but a hard thing to do. I know that I (as a Type-A personality) want to do everything that is good. And there are a lot of good things in the world. So many of them are available and easy, but they add up. They fill up your time before you realize it. They become overwhelming and “what’s good” turns into “what’s draining.”

We must lay down the good in order to pursue what is best. So how do we discern what falls into these categories? How do we figure out what’s only good and what’s really best?

The answer is prayer. To give an example, I’ve been planning to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November all year. I’ve done it for the last two years and once a few years before. I love NaNoWriMo and everyone’s talking about it amongst the writerly communities.

I’m also in the middle of editing a manuscript which I sincerely hope to have published and maintaining and growing this blog. Not to mention the rest of life. NaNoWriMo looks so appealing and it is definitely a good thing. But I don’t think it’s the best for me right now.

I pray before I write every day and pray about my writing at other times too. As I prayed about NaNoWriMo, it became clear that, while it would be good, it would take away from school, relationships, and other projects (not to mention physical health during those midnight writing sessions). So I won’t do it this year.

Are you doing too much? Do you always feel hurried or exhausted or frazzled? Feelings are not generally reliable, but they can be helpful here, in figuring out if you’re trying to juggle too much. I feel busy most of the time, so I’m laying down the good of writing a novel in a month to pursue the best of being able to handle school, siblings, and editing.

Finding the right balance in life is not easy. It takes years of trial and error, prayer and evaluation. And it keeps changing, based on what stage of life you’re in. But it’s worth it for you and the people around you. Pray about everything. How you should do it, when you should do it, whether you should do it. That is always best.

So let your weary spirit rest. Lay down what’s good and find what’s best. And be. Just be.

Kira

Are you tring to do too much? What could you lay down in order to find what’s best?

Book Review: Hand of Vengeance

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Photography is not my forte, but at least you can see the cover.

Yes, yes, a second book review in a single week. That’s just the way it worked out. 🙂

Hand of Vengeance by Douglas Bond was recommended to me by Moriah Simonowich of Delighting in Him and one of my friends offered to let me borrow it. So I started this book by Douglas Bond in the midst of all the other books I’m reading in at the moment.

Living in an 8th century Anglo-Saxon community, Cynwulf is shunned by most of the people in his world. Being left handed and part Viking, the rest of the community is happy to both avoid and judge him. Until one of his weapons is found at the scene of a murder. Cynwulf becomes the chief suspect in a murder trial he wants nothing to do with and must try to clear his name and save his life.

Bond writes a compelling tale (one which kept me up late for “one more chapter” more than once). His characters are complicated enough to be brought to life. I felt as if I understood Cynwulf even though I’ve never been on trial for murder. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them, so I kept coming back.

As I mentioned in my review of Jane Eyre, wholesome books are becoming more and more difficult to find. A large majority of authors are content to write fiction overflowing with sin and vice (not to mention lazy grammar and writing). It’s a tragedy, and I don’t say that lightly. Books hold great influence over the thoughts and lives of those who read them and authors are entrusted with the responsibility of shaping minds.

That being said, Douglas Bond’s tale of murder, love, and geese is a refreshing read. He shamelessly and easily weaves in the gospel – something also not done well in many modern tales. Hand of Vengeance was relaxing to read. I knew I wouldn’t have to be on the lookout for anything sinful or dark that might make me need to put it down. The world needs more books like this one.

Kira

You can find Douglas Bond at douglasbondbooks.blogspot.com

or bondbooks.net

Are there any authors that you know are “safe” – that will deliver a great story without treading sinful waters? How did you find out about them?

Commitment to Christ

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What are some things that you have committed to? I’ve committed to be part of a ministry, turn in my assignments for class on time, and show up for work when I’m scheduled.

I’m also committed to follow God, which is bigger than all of my other committments combined.

Have you ever thought about that – that being a Christian is a committment? Giving your life to Christ is just that – handing over your entire life. That’s sacrifice.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 10:37-39

Christianity is a huge committment. But what about the little things? It sounds nice to be willing to give your life as a martyr or suffer persecution for your faith, but there’s not as much glory in reading your Bible every morning or forgiving your brother for seventeenth time this week.

We may be willing to do huge things for God, but we have to be faithful in the small things first. How can we witness to the world when we don’t consistently love our family? How can we suffer for our faith if we don’t have enough to turn to God first every day?

That’s what I’ve been convicted of lately. When God shows me how He wants me to change, how He’s going to sanctify me, I need to be committed to that. Otherwise, there’s no point to any of this. So I leave you with a question to wrestle with daily. Are you committed?

Kira

What are some of your commitments? Is there anything that you commit to more than you commit to following God?