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    Stop Calling Me Beautiful Book Review

    Thursday, July 23, 2020

    Stop Calling Me Beautiful: Finding Soul-Deep Strength in a Skin-Deep World by Phylicia Masonheimer is a much-needed wake-up call in today’s perfectly-Instagrammed, Bible-study-and-coffee world. It is a challenge to a deeper walk with Jesus and gives a greater understanding of the Christian journey.
    Phylicia recounts when she realized that “Christianity wasn’t just about me — my faith, my study, my growth, my self — but was ultimately about God . . . Until then, I’d been seeking Jesus to learn more about myself . . . When I began searching for God for God’s sake, I discovered the kind of spiritual walk Jesus came to initiate. I discovered what He meant by His promise that He had come to give us abundant life.”
    Phylicia, much like us, often found herself bound in addiction and stagnant spiritual growth. The “You are beautiful in Christ” messages she kept running into only put a band-aid on her problems. Once she started seriously devoting herself to reading God’s Word and to prayer, she realized that “the beauty of God’s people is not the point of the gospel. The goal of the gospel is to unite us in relationship with our holy, loving God, and to invite others to have that relationship through our witness in this world . . . We need to hear less about us, and more about Him.”
    Stop Calling Me Beautiful is relatable to all women. The book covers topics such as legalism, anxiety, grief, broken sexuality, community, fear of man, overcoming shame, and making a difference in the world around us.
    I read Stop Calling Me Beautiful while also reading A.W. Tozer’s Pursuit of God, and I saw that Phylicia’s heart and passion behind her book reflect that of 20th century Tozer. They both call us beyond just going to church on Sunday and living a powerless Christian life. They challenge us to dig into God’s Word and to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to truly change our lives. We were meant to experience God’s presence in our lives, to know Him intimately, and to live a life for His glory.
    Yes, you are beautiful, my friend. But you were also made for so much more.

    If the Lord Wills

    Tuesday, July 21, 2020

    How should women who are single talk about the future when marriage is desired, yet it is never guaranteed? God never promises marriage for his daughters. He never guarantees a husband, so it can be difficult to plan for and talk about the future when it is unknown.
    One reader says, “There seem to be two systems of thought: The first where you don’t mention husband/kids (outside of deep talks with a select few) because there is a possibility that it may never happen. The second being to talk about husband/kids with expectancy (as a part of life, not what you’re solely living for) because that is what you truly desire.”
    I don’t pretend to have the right answer here. This is something that I am still processing and trying to figure out myself, and I may never know the perfect way to handle this. But I know that this quandary is not limited solely to single women longing for marriage. I think of my married friends longing for a child. Or those working odd jobs so they can hopefully pursue their passion as a career. We all have areas of our lives that feel vulnerable to talk about because we just don’t know the future.
    And sometimes, honestly, it is hard to know how to allow yourself to hope for the future. But one thing I know to be true: We can safely hope in Jesus because a future with Him is secure. It’s important to acknowledge this truth first and foremost because it is the rock on which our beliefs stand. If this foundation is not there, all other areas in life will crumble. I also know that God wants me to pray and ask for what I desire. So I will ask. But then I must daily lay down my desires and future plans in surrender at Jesus’ feet. I must trust that He knows what is best for me, and even if my dreams never come true, I must purpose in my heart to believe His goodness and kindness.
    That brings us back to the question that brought us here today: How do we talk about the unknown future with others?
    I think it is good to be honest with your hopes and desires. In my early 20s, I ignored my desire for marriage because I felt a sense of shame. Why am I desiring something that God hasn’t given me yet? It must be wrong. But a desire for marriage is not wrong, and there is never shame in wanting something God designed.
    Don’t shy away from being honest about your feelings with yourself and with others. But do so acknowledging the fact that it is “if the Lord wills.” James 4:15 says, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
    I personally have embraced talking about my desire for a husband and children “if the Lord wills.” I believe it is good to be vulnerable and honest. But my decisions today will reflect what God has laid before me today. Though I desire marriage, I won’t wait around for a spouse before I make decisions. I have decided to live my life today based on the known.
    Believe that the Lord has a good timeline for you and that His story for you may look different. You could get married later in life. You could be married within the next year. Adoption may be your story. Perhaps you may have a quiver full of children. Or maybe you will have a spiritual lineage of children-in-Christ. Let go of expectations of how your life should look and allow God to write a beautiful story while being honest and real with yourself and others about your desires.
    (Note: In regard to God promising marriage, He actually does promise a spiritual marriage one day between Christ and the church. This post, however, is solely referring to earthly marriage which is never guaranteed by God.)

    Imprisoned in Your 20s

    Monday, July 20, 2020

    Joseph’s 20s were not how he imagined them to be.

    In fact, Joseph spent this entire decade of his life (plus three years) in prison. He did the right thing - fleeing Potipher’s wife - and spent thirteen years paying for something he never did.

    His time in prison was not easy. Psalm 105:17b-18 gives a glimpse into his time: “Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron.” I’m sure as he sat in prison, he remembered the dreams God had given him as a seventeen-year-old boy and was confused. “I thought the Lord had a great destiny for me? This is not what I envisioned.”

    But you know what never failed during that time? The Lord’s kindness and the Lord’s presence. “So Joseph was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him” (Genesis 39:20b-21a).

    I hope your 20s aren’t spent in a jail serving time for something you never did, but maybe you are locked into a cell of discontent and anger. You can’t enjoy the freedom of where you are because you are behind the bars of “My life is not supposed to look this way.”

    What I take away from Joseph’s story is that just because my life doesn’t look like what I dreamed or hoped for, does not mean that God has left me or abandoned me. God is working out His plan - for my good and for His glory.

    Joseph’s story takes a turn when he was 30. “Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Genesis 41:46). But all those years spent in prison? God had a purpose and a reason for that time.

    He has a purpose for you too, friend. You may be experiencing an unwanted or difficult season. You may be where you never wanted to be. But God has not forgotten you.

    Pastor Nick said in yesterday’s sermon that Joseph knew that “when we feel forgotten we must shift our focus.” Shift your focus from your circumstances to your God. Trust God’s truth: He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us. He cares. He is kind. He has a good plan.

    Don’t allow the enemy to imprison you in a prison of lies. Free yourself to believe and trust the Word of God.

    A High Calling

    Monday, July 6, 2020

    “You’re going to be a mighty woman of God.”

    I have been pondering this topic of calling since a recent conversation with a dear friend. She comes from a large family and has always been told since she was a little girl what a good mom she would be. Now, at 32, she is struggling with infertility and feeling like a failure since she isn’t living up to her “calling”. She is realizing the lies she has believed and thought her whole life. “If God isn’t giving me what I had been told was right and good - what I have been wanting since I was little - then what’s the point of life? Am I lesser? Am I forgotten?”

    Then one day, she came across a book on her bookshelf entitled, “A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ.” She looked at the title with tears in her eyes, laughed sadly to herself, and threw it in the trash. She is thankful for God’s work in her life, despite all the pain, in showing her the lies that seemingly directed her path for many years. This “calling” had become a type of bondage in her life. She was no longer able to enjoy the holy callings she had in her life at the moment - loving her husband, faithfully serving her church, encouraging her friends, and wholeheartedly doing her job. Truly though, she has been living out a heavenly calling of being a great woman of God. But an earthly calling that was spoken over her has had a hold on her life. And maybe it does for you too?

    I remember times growing up when I would be fun or funny and I would be told, “You are going to be such a fun wife.” When I showed compassion to others, I was told that I would make a great mom. Will I be a mom one day? I really hope so. Will I be a fun wife? I desire to be. But if I let these sayings take hold of me, I can allow them to become an idol and then possibly miss out on my heavenly calling.

    It’s time to instill a high calling in one another. Let’s start speaking bold claims over the future generation. We need to begin praying heavenly things for each other - things we can live out despite the season.

    When I see compassion in my niece as she grows up, I can encourage her to use it to help the widows and the orphans. When I see boldness in my friend, I can call her to use it to proclaim the Gospel. When I see hospitality in my mom, I can encourage her to continue to faithfully use her gifts to edify the Body.

    Let’s call each other to Kingdom work. Let’s look at our nieces, our friends, our sisters, our mothers, and say, “You are called to a holy calling of loving and knowing Christ.” This is a calling that can be lived out no matter the season we find ourselves in.

    (To clarify, being a wife is a holy calling. It shows a picture of Christ and the Church. Being a parent is a holy calling. It shows the love of a Father to us as His children. Being single is also a holy calling. We have sole devotion to the things of the Lord. But labeled callings can often distract us from our main calling - and that is to know God and to glorify Him forever. Also - let’s remember the sincerity and love that were rooted in many of the things said over us. We can extend grace, but let’s be instruments of change for the next generation.)

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