Book Review – I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian

I picked up a book back in December, by Thom Rainer, called “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian,” but it wasn’t until recently that I actually took the time to read it. It’s a short read–just a little over 100 pages–so this is going to be a really quick review.

wp-image-1867108290jpg.jpgI’m not sure what I expected when I picked up the book, but I think I thought it was going to be more about missions. So, I was a little surprised to find out that it’s actually directed towards believers.

It’s no secret that the state of the American church is in disarray. As Rainer put it, “Somewhere in the twentieth century, believers, particularly in America, began to shift from an attitude of self-sacrificing service to God and worship of God, to consumer-focused, self-servicing attitudes” (p. 30). This statement pretty much sums up the purpose of the book: to make believers aware of this fact (if we weren’t already) and to show us the way back.

Rainer talks about our attitudes as believers; the importance of being a growing member of a church, and worshiping in community; serving (both in and outside of the church); being a giver; sharing the gospel; and avoiding the traps of what he calls Churchianity— which he defines as “practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines” (p.93).

Overall, I think this is a good book for believers who find themselves often complaining or are unsatisfied with the churches they attend. If you find yourself constantly complaining about the music, the message, the parking, the ministries, etc., then perhaps you may want to pick up a copy of this book, take a step back, and rethink the purpose of the church. (Honestly, I think that most believers have felt frustrated with the church at some point in their walk, but our attitude and how we react–whether or not we allow God to change our heart–makes all the difference.)

After reading this book you should come away asking what you can do for the church, rather than what the church can do for you. So…what will you do?

Take care, and God bless!


Treat People the Way God Treats You

Don’t treat people the way they treat you. Treat people the way God treats you. ~ Dave Willis

The other day I saw a meme shared by Focus on the Family in my Facebook news feed, with the above quote. I immediately shared it, thinking “Yes! Someone else gets it!”

The truth is, we live in a society in which we measure out things like, love, grace, and respect in the measure that it’s given to us; but the Word tells us to live otherwise.

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus Himself, says “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (We talked about this previously, in my R-E-S-P-E-C-T post, about a year ago.)

So, why are we revisiting this? Because we always need to be reminded, and like I said in a previous post (The Lamp of the Body), we’re called to be a peculiar people. We’re not supposed to think and act like those in the world. Is this difficult? Yes; but, again, we’re not doing it on our own, but by the power of the Spirit of God living within us. The verse we’ve been returning to again and again, in church this year, has been Zechariah 4:8: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. This ties right in line with what we’ve been saying here for years.

Give Grace

So, what does it mean to treat others the way that God treats us? I believe it means that we’re showing people grace, as God shows us grace. The word grace itself, is described as free and unmerited favor, meaning it’s undeserved. God doesn’t provide grace for us because we deserve it, He provides it because of Who He is. In same, we shouldn’t offer grace towards others based on merit, but because of who we are in Christ; we forgive others because we’ve been forgiven (Matthew 6:14; Ephesians 4:32).

Discipline in Love

Secondly, it means that we discipline in love, the way God lovingly disciplines His children. Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12 talk about discipline. I think we often equate discipline with corporal punishment, but as I believe we’ve briefly discussed before–in Correction–this is more like training and teaching than anything else. Basically, we’re talking about speaking Truth, gently and lovingly, into people’s lives and letting God do the rest of the work. Again…Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe (for more on this check out, For All to Hear).

Treat all Equally

Third, it means we treat all equally and with respect. Jesus died for all, not just a few of us and He gives us all equal opportunity to become children of God (Romans 2:11; Galatians 3:26-29; John 1:12; John 3:16-17; Acts 10:34). James asks in chapter 2, “how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” This could be based on financial or social status, as it was in James’ time, but it could also include race or ethnicity. The Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ is global. There will be people of all races and tongues in heaven, whether we were rich or poor, married or unmarried, U.S.-born, Middle Eastern, African, raised in the church, or became a believer in our old age; none of it is going to matter when we’re all standing before God (Revelation 7:9).

Treat Others as Better than Ourselves

Lastly, it means we treat others as better than ourselves. In Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT), Paul writes:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Jesus, Himself, showed us what it looked like to pour out His life for others. Remember when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet in John 13?  He told them to use it as an example, and to wash each other’s feet as He washed theirs. Elsewhere, we’re told that we are to serve one another in love, to love our neighbor as our self, and to give to those in need, period (Leviticus 19:33-34; Galatians 5:13; Mark 10:42-45; Mark 12:31; Romans 12:20; James 1:27). And to top it all off, we’re to expect nothing in return (Luke 14:12-14).

Will this be easy? No. Will this be possible? Absolutely. But only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Are you up for the challenge? I know Paul was when he stated, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (Philippians 2:17).

Let’s act accordingly.

2016 – A Midyear Review

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through the year, but here we are in the middle of June! I know it’s been a while since I last wrote a post, however, if you’ve been following my blog, you already know that last month…I got married!

I do apologize for my absence, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy with wedding plans, and then trying to become accustomed to living with someone, which is a challenge in itself. I will say there will be plenty of new posts about marriage coming soon, but I won’t neglect my single readers, either. 😉

So much has happened within the first half of this year, in addition to our wedding. Four of my friends have had babies, my sister gave birth to my niece, and I recently found out that another friend has a baby on the way, as well. Needless to say, I haven’t had a lot of time to get to all those 2016 goals I raved about in my January post, although, I have started walking/running with the new hubby this week (i.e. exercise!) and I’ve started becoming slightly more involved in the worship ministry.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with this last month–one among many–is making sure I have time to read and think without interruption. I mean, how can I share things that I’ve been learning or that God has been revealing to me if I don’t have the quiet time that I need to reflect on such things? Lately, I’ve just barely had time to think and jot down a note here or there. Balancing home, work, church, and trying to take care of all those newly married details–such as changing your last name–have my head spinning. Nevertheless, you will not become my last priority, and I will learn to balance my time a little better.

So, married ladies, my question today is for those of you with full time jobs. How do you balance work, home and church (particularly if you’re an introvert, like me)?

Talk to you soon!

Book Review – Revolution in World Missions

As I waited four hours at Sears a few Saturdays ago, for mechanics to change the brakes on my car, I finally had the opportunity to finish reading K.P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions. Yohannan isn’t really an author, he’s a missionary and founder of a ministry called “Gospel for Asia,” but he does a pretty good job of getting his points across in this book. Yesterday, as I was thinking about this book review I thought that the book’s title should have been Revolution in World Missions: Changing the Way You Think About Missions.b1-cover

The first point of the book may be difficult for United States believers to hear. Yohannan starts the book by discussing the abundance of gifts and freedoms we have in the U.S. that God has poured out on us and we often take for granted. For instance…

  • “In 1998, personal expenditures in the United States averaged $19,049 per person of which $1,276 (6.7 percent) went for food, leaving a comfortable $17,773 for other expenses. In India, the average person had only $276 to spend, of which $134 (48.4 percent) went for food, leaving a scant $142 for other needs for the entire year” (p. 44).
  • “The United States has about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores, carrying varieties of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible published in their own language…” “Besides books, 8,000 Christian magazines and newspapers flourish. More than 1,600 Christian radio stations broadcast the Gospel full-time, while many countries don’t even have their first Christian radio station. A tiny 0.1 percent of all Christian radio and television programming is directed toward the unevangelized world” (p. 50).
  • “The United States, with its 600,000 congregations or groups, is blessed with 1.5 million full-time Christian workers, or one full-time religious leader for every 182 people in the nation. What a difference this is from the rest of the world, where more than 2 billion people are still unreached with the Gospel. The unreached or ‘hidden peoples’ have only one missionary working for every 78,000 people,’ and there are still 10,000 people groups in the world without a single church among them to preach the Gospel” (pp. 50-51).

Yohannan’s point? That the abundance God has blessed is with should be used to build His kingdom and reach the lost.

The second point of Yohannan’s book? To remind the reader that providing for people’s physical needs is not the same as providing for their spiritual needs. “Substituting a bowl of rice for the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will never save a soul and will rarely change the attitude of a man’s heart. We will not even begin to make a dent in the kingdom of darkness until we lift up Christ with all the authority, power, and revelation that is given to us in the Bible,” writes Yohannan. He goes on to provide examples of ministries and teams that have gone out with the intent of reaching the lost through education or humanitarian relief, but end up failing because they get sidetracked by these other things and forget to keep the Gospel of Christ the center and focus their mission. His point: we must remember to keep the main thing, the main thing; providing for other human needs is important, but even more important are their spiritual needs.

Yohannan’s final point is that the best way to reach these unreached people groups is by training national missionaries—people already living there—and providing them with the financial support they need to reach as many people in their hometowns, neighboring towns and countries. This makes a lot of sense. First, because it’s less costly to support national missionaries than it is to send missionaries from other countries and provide them with the financial support they find necessary. Second, because people are more likely to listen to those they are most similar to and feel connected with. A wealthy American family, for instance, will have difficulty understanding not only the language, but also the perspective and culture of the poor migrant farmer of India. Lastly, because those of other nations have difficulty trusting those from the U.S. due to various historical events (i.e. imperialism, colonialism, proselytizing) and because of what they’ve seen of our culture (based on television programs and news).

Yohannan’s point is not that U.S. missionaries give up on serving in foreign countries, but that they leave behind a group of nationals that can be self-sufficient and will continue to develop and grow the church. When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of Paul, since this is what he did. He shared the Gospel with the lost, mentored them, sent them letters, and encouraged them, but he never stayed in one location for too long (until he was imprisoned). He allowed the churches that were established in each city to grow and develop under local leadership. As I finished up this book, I thought of the two churches my local church has been supportive in establishing in Ghana and El Salvador, and recognized the significance of local, national, leadership in their formation.

I definitely recommend that you read this book with a spirit of humility. It may seem that the author is simply criticizing the U.S. church; however, I don’t believe that he writes these things to insult us, but to correct our course and to make our mission—to share the gospel to the ends of the earth—more effective. If you’re interested in missions–and I believe we all should be, to some extent–I recommend you read this book. Take care and God bless!

P.S. You can request a free copy of this book here.

Let Your Light Shine

Welcome back y’all! I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and have really wanted to share with you. This year is almost over and I’ve been going over my posts and realizing that when I first began this blog in 2012, I started out strong and posted very often, but this year I’ve posted very little. It’s not because there haven’t been things I wanted to share with you, but simply because things have really started to kick off this year and I’ve been pretty busy.


At the beginning of the year our church decided on the theme “Believe” for 2014, and we started out by filling out these little “Believe” cards, on which we wrote down things for with we were believing God to do in our lives this year. For me, the areas that I was praying over and believing that God would take care of involved my relationships, ministry opportunities, health, and a job. Since then, the only one that I’m still waiting for God’s hand to move in has been career wise.

I began dating someone from church back in July and have been working on strengthening my relationships with other women, as well. I got good news from my doctor a few months ago, that some cell abnormalities finally came back normal—I hugged my doctor and left the office praising God. Then the ministry opportunities began springing up! I’d been involved in the worship team, but then I decided to also help out with the children’s worship ministry, and then I was asked to teach our Young Adults class on Wednesday nights (score!). If you’ve ever read my About Me section you’ll find out that I love to teach; that’s why I began this blog to begin with! I still feel like God isn’t done with me, yet. My heart for young adults and the vision I’ve had for them include a Young Adults worship team, small group meetings outside the church, and students with such a passion for God that we’re unashamed to share the gospel with those around us and moved to be involved in outreach and services to others, which brings me to my next point.

The Great Commission

Just a few weeks ago, we began studying the book of Hebrews. This book begins by describing who Jesus Christ is (Hebrews 1:1-4):

  • The heir of all things.
  • The One through whom God made the universe.
  • The radiance of God’s glory.
  • The exact expression of God’s nature and being.
  • Sustainer of all things by His word.
  • The One who made purification for sins.
  • The One who sits at the right hand of Majesty on high.

It also talks about Jesus being greater than the angels and how important it is to obey what He commanded so that we don’t drift away; as well as the importance of Christ coming to us in human form. According to Hebrews, Christ’s purpose for dying on the cross was to destroy the Devil, give us freedom, and to reach out to us so that we would have opportunity for relationship with God (Hebrews 2:1-18).

In my personal Bible study I’ve begun the book of Revelation, of which the first three chapters describe the state of the 7 churches in Asia, which really had me thinking about the state of our churches now; and the state of the American Church, in particular, as I read Revelation 3:14:22 regarding the church at Laodicea being lukewarm.

Furthermore, in the world around me, I’ve noticed recently an excessive amount of sickness, tragedy, and death that has been pricking at my heart, basically screaming at me to share the Truth before it’s too late. But how? Do you notice that the question is not “why,” but rather, “how”? Because the why has already been answered…because of these Truths that I’ve just mentioned! Because of Who Christ is, because He suffered and died for us, because He took on the wrath of God for our sin (Hebrews 2:17; propitiation = wrath-bearing sacrifice) so that we might be reconciled—our sin debt paid for—to the Father. He loves each and every one of us—even those who have done horrible things—and wants us ALL to turn away from the things that we’ve put first in our lives to follow after Him.

So, back to my question, “how”? To be honest, I’m a much better writer than speaker. I always seem to have trouble searching for exact word I want to use, when speaking aloud. I have shared my testimony with a few young women from my church, but now I think I’d really like to share it with you all. I’ve been making some changes to this blog, and I feel that after I finally finish my testimony, I’ll be making a few more in light of my testimony. I want y’all to realize how much God loves us, how much He’s done for us, and how He’s called us to be a light in this dark and dying world. As believers we are called to be different, called to be set apart, but we are also called to love and serve those around us; and what better way to love those around us then by sharing the most important gift God has given us? I encourage you, if you have not already done so, write out your testimony and share it with those around you. In today’s world we have so many platforms in which to do this…in person, through blogs, books, videos, letters, art, song etc. How will you share your testimony? And with whom will you share it?

Multiply: Week 6

Part II: Living as the Church

3: The Global Church

I, again, apologize for not writing on a more regular basis. I’ve started riding the train to and from work, which means I leave my home earlier and get home later in the evenings, leaving me less time to do other things during the week. It’s going to take some getting used to and some serious time management skills, since I’ll be returning to school in a few weeks, as well. Before I begin chapter 14 of Romans I thought I’d continue our discussion of Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, because chapter 6 is about the global church and I feel it has much in common with previous chapters of Romans.

As important as the local church is, God’s plan extends way beyond your town. As much as God wants you to reach the people in your community, He has no intention of stopping there. God’s plan of redemption reaches into your neighborhood–and to every other city, village, and jungle around the globe! (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p.77)

The Bible makes a point to explain that the fall of Adam and Eve affected all of humanity; not just a certain ethnic or geographical group. In the same manner, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ–the grace of God–is meant for all! If we’re not trying to make some sort of effort to reach those in other parts of the world, then we’re not truly being obedient to the call of Christ, through the Great Commission to share the gospel.

A few days ago I was reading Romans chapter 10…

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:11-15)

The word “believe” in Greek is pisteuo, which means “to adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on.” Therefore, how can anybody have a relationship with–adhere to, cleave to, trust, rely, or depend on–Christ if they don’t believe that He exists? They have no faith. How can they have faith (or a relationship) with Christ if no one has ever told them about what God has done for them? And how can they hear about God’s grace and mercy if someone doesn’t tell them? God commands us to share the gospel with the world. We must tell others, so that they may hear and believe (adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on).

“But how can I reach the globe?” you may be thinking to yourself. I had to ask myself the same question. Francis Chan answers it this way:

We all need to consider whether God is calling us to follow Him onto the mission field, but we have to remember that this is not the only way of working to fulfill God’s plan to reach every nation. If we decide that God wants us to remain in the area in which He has placed us for the time being, then we need to be using our resources to further the mission around the world. Even if we find our primary ministry in the people directly surrounding us, we need to be praying for our fellow workers in other parts of the world. (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p. 85)

In other words, “The question is not whether or not we will be working to spread the gospel around the world, but what role we will play in this” (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p. 86).

I would love to take a missions trip one day, but until that day comes I’ll continue to share the gospel through other means. For me, that means continuing to write this blog. I’ve delightfully discovered that many of my readers are from various places around the globe; from countries that can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. This excites me and motivates me to focus my writing solely on what God wants me to share. I also do my part by supporting a child through World Vision, and although my financial situation is a little sticky, I continue to give because I know that my gifts have a great impact on the life of my little friend and his community. And every time I see a Facebook post or Tweet about fellow believers suffering persecution or imprisonment for their faith, I send out a prayer for their protection and ask that God would envelop them with His love and peace; I also send out retweets and sign petitions for their release. But this is just how I reach the world.

In what ways do you attempt to reach the globe and share the message of Christ?

Outside the Box

First off, let me start by saying I’m somewhat hesitant to write what I’m about to write. I don’t want anybody to get the impression that I think I’m better than anybody else, or “more spiritual,” but I really want to tell you what’s been on my heart for a while now.

I follow a few Christian authors on Twitter and they often make comments or ask questions or their followers. One such comment that continually pops us is about “cultural Christianity.” Basically it’s about how we live in a nation in which individuals identify themselves as Christians, but don’t live as such. I see it every day, both inside the church and outside; but what I want to discuss varies somewhat from this.

One of the definitions of culture is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group;” and we’re going to talk about the “culture” of the current Church. There are many wonderful churches out there, full of passionate preachers, teachers, worship leaders, and believers. They love God with everything that they are, they speak truth and life into the people around them, and they live out their beliefs; but unfortunately where I find we’re falling short is allowing the Spirit to move freely. For some reason I feel as though we’ve put God in this tiny little box and said, you can move around in here, but you can’t go any further than this. I feel like we’re more worried about making people feel uncomfortable, or taking up too much of their time, than freely and unashamedly worshiping Him. If the Spirit is moving, let Him move! Let Him do His thing! Let Him heal the broken, renew the weary, and strengthen the weak; and let those who choose to pour themselves out to Him, do so.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if we really want revival and change in our “culturally Christian” world, perhaps we should start where it matters most: the culture of our churches. We need to stop trying to contain God inside a little box, allow Him to pour Himself out on our congregations, and allow believers to soak in His presence; because if we really knew what His presence was like, we would never want to leave His side, and we would want everybody around us to share in that experience and come to know His great love.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)