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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity in Atlanta GA’

Being Yourself is a Gift Most Treasured!

The Gift of Being Yourself is a must read!

The Gift of Being Yourself is a must read!

Have you ever read a book that you felt was written specifically for you? The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner was definitely that book for me. It is the second book in a series of three books (the first book being Surrender to Love and the final book being Desiring God’s Will) that a friend recommended to me. There are only six chapters so it really isn’t a difficult read.

The chapter titles give you an idea of the specific topics covered by the book: Transformational Knowing of Self and God, Knowing God, First Steps Toward Knowing Yourself, Knowing Yourself as You Really Are, Unmasking Your False Self, and Becoming Your True Self.

A few of the takeaways that I had from the book were:

  • “Even when Jesus felt that God had abandoned him in the Garden of Gethsemane, his confidence in the love of the Father was so great that he still desired God’s will over his own. Jesus knew that he was loved whether or not he felt like it. His identity was grounded in God.”
  • “Self-acceptance and self-knowing are deeply interconnected. To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted — even embraced. Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance. And the self that you must accept is the self that you actually and truly are — before you start your self-improvement projects!”
  • “Until we are willing to accept the unpleasant truths of our existence, we rationalize or deny responsibility for our behavior.”
  • “Knowing the depths of God’s personal love for each of us as individuals is the foundation of all genuine self-knowledge.”
  • “The self that God persistently loves is not my prettied-up pretend self but my actual self — the real me.”

I highly recommend this book (and series) to anyone who is really struggling with self-esteem or self-image. This book helped me realize that it’s not my public persona (how I want to be seen) that God loves and wants to know…it’s the me behind closed doors that He wants me to embrace in order to truly reach my full potential, to become what He desires for me to be.

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

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Saying Goodbye to the Original Ragamuffin

April 14, 2013 1 comment
Meeting Brennan Manning.

Meeting Brennan Manning.

September of 2008, I had the awesome opportunity to meet Brennan Manning. He was speaking at the NPCC Single’s Labor Day Retreat. Mr. Manning was a very meek individual who truly loved God. If you had seen him, he looked like any other senior adult who could have been someone’s grandfather. He shared with us his testimony – a story of alcoholism, being a priest, homelessness, and hitting rock bottom.

What I loved so much about Mr. Manning was after he spoke, we were given the opportunity to meet him. I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him and his response was “Why would you want your picture taken with me? I’m no one special. God is the one who did it all through me.” I was floored by his humbleness and in talking with him further, I knew that God had truly used this man to further His kingdom. He also signed my copy of The Ragamuffin Gospel with simply “In Abba’s Embrace – Brennan.”

As someone who loves to write, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet two of the authors who have had a huge impact on my life (Brennan Manning and Donald Miller) and both interactions left me loving these two authors even more than I did prior to the encounters. I was saddened to hear that Brennan Manning passed away last week. In memory of Mr. Manning, I wanted to share a few quotes from The Ragamuffin Gospel that really blessed me.

“The Kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger, homelier, less self-conscious cast of people who understand they are sinners because they experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.”

“God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.”

“Over the years I’ve seen Christians shaping God in their own image — in each case a dreadfully small God.”

“The danger with our good works, spiritual investments, and all the rest of it is that we can construct a picture of ourselves in which we situate our self-worth. Complacency in ourselves then replaces sheer delight in God’s unconditional love. Our doing becomes the very undoing of the ragamuffin gospel.”

One Step Closer – U2 and God

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment
One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God

One Step Closer is a MUST read for any fan of the band U2!

If you know me well at all, you know that U2 is my all time favorite band. I had the amazing opportunity to see them live the last time they came to Atlanta and it was well worth the price of admission. The fact that they sang one of my favorite songs, 40, made my experience “even better than the real thing” (sorry, I promise no more U2 song title puns). One of my life-long friends got me a book for Christmas several years ago and I just finally got around to reading it. One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen takes the reader through twelve different topics regarding Christianity and shows how different songs in the U2 music catalog fit within these topics.

The topics covered include: Singing Scripture, Psalms as Thanksgiving and Lament, Wisdom as Desire and Illusion, Prophecy as Judgment and Hope, Parables as Offense and Mercy, Apocalypse as Ecstasy and Healing, Singing the Cross, Faith (Not Sight), Hope (Not Possession), Love (Not Power), Now (Not Yet), and Singing the Truth. I learned so much about my favorite band as well as what motivates them to do what they do. They are not in it for the fame and fortune – they feel God has given them a platform to share via their music. Some categorize the band as “too Christian” while others label them as “not Christian enough” but the author likens the band’s songs to modern parables.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes and take aways from the book:

  • “We don’t get what we deserve; we get what God offers. As Bono put it in a recent interview, ‘It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.'”
  • “If we thought it was all about us, it would <expletive> us up. Something happens, but it is not something we make happen. It only happens when God walks through the room.” – Larry Mullen, Jr. (drummer for U2)
  • “Great music, like great lives, moves us to see with more clarity.”
  • “The band has always had the feeling – not unlike Flannery O’Connor in her writing – that revelation will come if they wait and pay attention.”
  • “These relationships – to friends, family, and community – speak to a conscious effort to overcome the vertigo of being rock stars so that they can find ways to be normal people.”
  • “They (the band) decided very early on that they would transgress the rule that rock bands don’t sing about religion and politics.”
  • “It’s absolutely clear what’s on God’s mind. You just have to read Scripture. Those who read Scripture and don’t come away with God’s preferential concern for the poor are just blind given that there are 2,103 verses of Scripture about the poor.”  Bono (lead singer of U2)
  • “To make a difference, one must be different.”

I left this book with a better understanding of U2 and the thought process behind their lyrics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves U2 or is just interested in seeing how other believers in the world are making a difference.

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

His Timing, Not Mine

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Wrist Watch

HIS timing is perfect!

Music is an integral part of my life. I listen to just about any and every kind of music (although I just can’t get into country or southern gospel). Certain songs have had more significance in my life during a specific season. At church, from time to time, we sing Always by Kristian Stanfill. We sang it again last night at Night of Worship and it really spoke to me in a new way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

Up until recently, I was listening to the lyrics and thinking “God will not delay?! My God will come through always?! Yeah right! I don’t think so…He isn’t doing a thing in my situation.” I let my circumstances (being without a job for almost 16 months) determine my view of God’s movement (or lack there of in my mind). I couldn’t see who God truly was because I was blinded by what was going on around me.

Something happened on Wednesday of this week to change my view of the above lyrics. I had a job interview and later that day received (and accepted) a job offer. Thursday night when I went to Night of Worship, I focused intently on these lyrics and realized the error in my earlier mindset. I was using MY timeline to determine if God was delaying or coming through on HIS part. It felt like God was saying to me “You know…I was delaying until I thought you were ready. I wasn’t doing it to be mean or to hurt you in any way. Remember, I know what’s best for you!”

Watch the video below – may the lyrics of the song encourage you and help you remember God’s timing is perfect.

Photo Credit: By Blake Patterson

Conversations of a Life Unexpected

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment
life tiles

Life never goes as we plan.

I will be celebrating (okay, maybe “celebrating” isn’t quite the right word…more like “dreading” right now) a milestone birthday in less than six months. Last night I was talking with my roommate about all of these things that I had hoped to have accomplished or done by this upcoming birthday. We all have our “bucket list” of things we want to do by a certain age and my list was more out of feeling a sense of entitlement (like I deserved these things) – “Why am I not married by now?” or “Why do I not have a house of my own now?” These ideas brought more questions, but no answers.

Donald Miller’s blog Storyline has a great post by Jeff Goins on this very topic – “When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Expect” and I felt like it was written specifically to me. Goins compares our life to that of a story where we are an important character, but not the MAIN character. God is the MAIN character in our story. Things happen in our life that we don’t plan – job loss, death of a friend or family member, car problems…and the list continues. We get frustrated because more often than not, we have no control over these situations.

One thing we are quick to forget – when we are on the other side of our respective situations, we will be stronger and a better person because of them.

How has your life turned out differently than you planned?

Photo Credit: By Wes Peck

We’re Here! 6 Americans Invade Londrina.

September 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Team Picture on 1st day at Capela

Team shot in front of Capela

We arrived in Londrina this morning around 1:30 AM their time (they are an hour ahead of us in Atlanta). I wish I could say all of our luggage arrived with us, but we weren’t as fortunate – out of 8 checked bags only 3 made it on the flight with us. The rest are supposed to be arriving at the hotel for us sometime later this afternoon. Two of our new friends at Capela met us at the airport and brought us to the hotel early this morning.

So far today we have had lunch with Pastor Paulo, his wife Kelen, their daughter Luiza, and their son David. Afterwards we went to the church to see them rehearse for Kid+ (their version of KidStuf) and helped them set up for the service tomorrow, as Paulo will be starting a new series called “Masquerade” (based on the book TrueFaced). This evening will be meeting with Saulo to find out more details about the Singles Environment, Lounge Capela and we will help them set up for the event. After Lounge Capella tonight, we will probably be grabbing supper with some of the singles from the church.

Tomorrow morning is Kid+ and then tomorrow evening is the service (the only have one service at this time). It has been great to see old faces and to meet new ones as well. Unfortunately most of us didn’t get to bed until around 3:00 AM so we are very tired from all of the traveling, but we wanted to let you know we have arrived safely. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Other Posts From Our Trip

 

Only 4 Hours and 45 Minutes…

August 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Singles_Brazil_GlobalX_team_photo

(L-R): Elisabeth, Scott (me), Courtney, Valerie, Krista, and Adam

I can’t believe we have to be at the airport in 4 hours and 45 minutes. This will be short and sweet because I need to make an attempt at getting some sleep. I am packed and ready to go; my AWESOME friend Jennifer and her dad are coming to pick me up at 3:00 AM (now THAT’S a true a friend!) and we’re heading to the airport. Keep our team in your prayers as we travel over the next day to reach our destination of Londrina, Brazil.

I wanted you to be able to put names and faces together with the people on our team for whom you will be praying, so I have attached a copy of our team photo to this post. For those of you who have contributed to our trip (both financially and through prayers), we greatly appreciate it! Please continue to pray for us while we are on the trip. I will be updating my blog while we are gone, so make sure to check back here to see what we have been doing.

It’s time for me to get some rest!

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