Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher [Book Review]

 

9781601428400Rooted by Banning Liebscher is another great read for 2016.  Every book I’ve picked up this year has been timely and Rooted was no different. Banning discusses how God develops us through the process of Intimacy, Serving, and Community. The biggest take away I got from Rooted is when God develops us, it takes time. Until we are fully developed through His process,  we cannot fully live out our purpose.

All of Banning’s words resonated with me, but the section on serving really struck a cord. God put us here to love and serve others. To lay our life down for our friends and those close to us. I have reflected on the past month of my life and realize the people who need my love most are the people I see and interact with daily. It goes beyond that but it starts there.

Rooted will both challenge and convict you. It will make you see life through a different pair of lens you’re used to as a follower of Christ. You will rethink areas of life, namely, your relationship with Christ and how it affects your relationships with other people and importantly, yourself.

What kind of legacy do you want to have? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David, just like Christ. 

Banning encourages us to remain rooted in the Source; Jesus. I highly recommend this book.

How rooted are you?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

3 Characteristics of Successful Friendships

The more I think about my life at almost 33, I’m reminded daily how important friendships are.  I’m also reminded how difficult they are.  I don’t know what it is about adult friendships, but it seems the older I get, it becomes harder to maintain them. My inner circle has gotten smaller over the past few years, but there are some consistent characteristics about these people and why we’re able to make our friendships work.

They’re reliable. When I text or call, they text and call back. They always respond.

They always follow through with commitments. If they say they’ll be there, they’re there. No questions asked. No excuses.

They value our time together. They’re never late or ever in a hurry. Oh, and as a bonus, they almost never use or check their phone while we’re together.

I’m in a place in life where I want to be around people who genuinely like being around me. Honestly, I’m not always the best person to be around. I’ve struggled more lately than I have in a while. Sometimes we say and do things we don’t necessarily mean and stuff happens that could have been prevented had we been more self-controlled. I know this now but I also know despite my failings, God has still proven Himself faithful.

God doesn’t stop working because I’m a bad friend.

This is an area I’m trying to constantly improve as I move forward with my life. I’ve had some amazing things happen in a few short months and I’ve had some difficult things happen too. But when it’s all said and done and the chips have fallen, I want to know the right people are in my life. People who will challenge me, strengthen me, encourage me, and be there no matter what. On the same hand, I want to be this kind of friend too.  I believe what we are willing to sow into our friendships/relationships and in life, we reap those things. If we sow good things, we’ll reap good things.

Successful friendships don’t happen over night. They’re cultivated over time with a lot of patience, and the will power to keep going, to make things work, even when the directions of our life change.

Ask God for the grace and humility to be a better friend and for Him to bring those kind of friends into your life.

Do you have successful friendships? If not, what in your life needs to change?

 

 

A Message For All Women

I don’t know where you are in life at the moment, but wherever it is, you are where you’re supposed to be. If you believe in the Lord like I do, trust He has your best interest in mind. No matter the circumstances, believe He is faithful.  I know this part is very difficult. Us women want to be loved, valued, cherished, and accepted for who we are. My message to you is continue being the woman God has created you to be.

Throughout your life, men will come and go.  Not every one who stays is the “One.” This part will be difficult to accept, but God knows us better than any one ever will and He has designed someone specifically for not only us, but our hearts.

We must guard our purity with our life. Not only sexual purity, but mental, emotional, and spiritual too. If any of these areas are compromised by our relationships or anything else in our life, they need to go. No person or thing is worth the risk of living an impure life. I know this sounds self-righteous, but from my own experience, this is the only way to live.

As we get older, our perspective changes. We see things from a different pair of lens. Lens of growth, wisdom, and above all, love. All those times you thought God was being too hard on you or worse, punishing you, you’ll see what He was doing all along … loving you. He is the only One who loves from a pure and genuine heart. When we walk in His love it changes how we see things.

We need more confident hearts. Confidence in ourselves and in the Lord. I know from experience, I’m not as confident as I want to be. I’m insecure and feel unattractive. I would love for a man to look me in the eyes and say, “Julie, you’re beautiful” and mean it. But I need to start seeing myself the way God sees me. Accepted, valued, and loved despite my stretch marks and flaws.

There is a man out there, a Godly man for you. One who seeks the Lord in everything. He knows how to treat a woman and doesn’t take advantage of her heart or emotions. He helps protect her purity and would never put her in a situation where she will need to question his motives or actions. He can be trusted. Many men will claim to be this man.  They’ll say with their lips “I believe in the Lord” but say differently with their actions.  Pay attention. Actions never lie.

God is the author of our lives. He has written every page and He knows the beginning to end.

This part may be difficult to accept because we like to be in control, but I beg you, surrender everything to God and Him alone and you won’t regret it. The best plan for our life is the one we couldn’t write ourselves.

You deserve nothing but God’s best for you and only He knows what this is. It may look one way one day and another the next but believe His fingerprints are in everything. 

Never let any person take the place of God in your life. Put God first in everything and move out of the way. When you put Him first, everything else will fall into place.

I’ve made a commitment to follow the Lord in everything. Admittedly, this isn’t easy. I haven’t made the best choices this year but I’m going to walk the next half of 2016 more confident and hopeful.

I hope you will too.

 

NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback [Bible Review]

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Normally, I’m not a fan of the NKJV version of Scripture, but this Bible came in handy to study with. The NKJV Study Bible is a great study Bible for adults who want to dig deeper into scripture.

My favorite feature are the verse by verse notes at the bottom of each section of reading. I have found this feature extremely valuable and highly recommended for any one who wants to deepen their understanding of scripture. The other feature I found helpful were the cross references and the articles highlighting key doctrines/principles in the Bible.

This is a very compact Bible and perfect to carry with you to work or for group study.

I highly recommend this Bible if you’re a fan of the NKJV translation.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

We Are Better Together

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Adam and Eve.

David and Jonathan.

Elijah and Elisha.

Ruth and Naomi.

What do all these stories have in common? Each of them could not accomplish God’s work without each other.

Jesus sent His disciples two by two and from the beginning God knew we couldn’t function without people walking along side with us, helping us, encouraging us, and doing the work He has called each of us to do. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) but He will also bring people in our life who will help us too.

We should have people who will pour into us and spend time with us.

We should have people who will battle with us.

We should have people who will walk along side with us and have confidence in us when we want to give up.

From the beginning of creation, God knew we needed other people. 

I’m thankful for the people in my life who encourage me forward, who are there for me when I need to talk/vent, but I need more. I need someone in my life who will partner with me in doing the work God has sent me here to do and they’re willing to ride it out. Having these kind of people in our life is so important to furthering God’s kingdom here on earth.

Who is this person in your life?  

This is what I’m asking myself today and I’m praying daily God will bring that person/people into my life.

We are better together. We are not equipped to do this life alone. 

Do you have people in your life who are helping you do God’s work?

Spend time today reflecting on this question, I know I will be.

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Are You a Genuine Friend?

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“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the friendships in my life. I’ve strengthened some and let some go. The circle I keep has gotten smaller and fewer as I’ve gotten older. I make acquaintances easily, but maintaining and strengthening existing friendships in this season of life is a little difficult for me. I have friends I can go see a movie with but having people in my life who will walk side by side with me through the messiness of life is a little more challenging.

There are people I talk to and who speak life into me but over the past year I’ve built walls around my heart and I’m very guarded in specific areas. I’m not as vulnerable as I used to be. I think when you’ve been hurt a lot you train yourself not to get too close to other people in fear of being hurt or worse rejected.  Genuine friendships matter to me, especially in this area but they’re rare.

Genuine friends spend time with you.

Genuine friends are there to catch us when we fall.

Genuine friends are the ones there for us when the whole world walks out. 

Genuine friends accept and love us as we are. 

Genuine friends pray for you and with you.

Genuine friends are transparent with you. 

Genuine friends are the ones who stick closer than a brother.

Genuine friends inspire, encourage, and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.

I’m sure there are other characteristics of genuine friendships, but these stick out most to me. As I think through my friendships, I know what kind of friendships I want and the kind of friend I need to be.  Our friendships and relationships with others matter, especially as followers of Jesus.  They should draw us closer to Christ and His image not away from it.

This week take an inventory of your relationships and pray over them. 

Are you a genuine friend?

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Ask, Seek, Knock

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

I love when God shows up and finds ways to get my attention. Matthew 7:7 has been a verse that has shown itself a few times this week and it’s only Tuesday. There are plans on my heart and I know only the Lord’s plans will ultimately prevail.  To know the direction He wants me to move in, I have to ask and seek Him in everything.

God will make His way known if the desires of my heart are in His will.

Time and time again, especially lately, He has proven Himself faithful. I’ve been attentive but I get impatient in the waiting.  When I sit at His feet daily, He reminds me to trust Him in this time of waiting and preparation.

God’s ways will always be higher than ours and He wants us to ask and seek Him daily before making big decisions. 

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

What a timely reminder.

Lord, you know the desires of my heart. Help me to ask and seek You in everything. Don’t let me move unless You tell me to first. In Jesus name, amen.

Are you asking and seeking the Lord daily before making big decisions? 

#heartcheck

The Missing Link

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The more time I’ve spent in the Word and with the Lord over the past few weeks, I’m realizing the missing link to almost everything in our life.

The Holy Spirit.

It’s missing from our relationships, friendships, Churches, everything. I’ve had individual and collective experiences with the Spirit and I can’t and will not deny its power in my life. The experience is supernatural and powerful.

Most people talk of the Spirit and being filled with it, but to live by it, to obey it, and watch it work naturally in our life is nothing short of incredible. I get speechless and emotional thinking about it.

We talk about it,  but do we really understand how the Holy Spirit works?

I do.

Over the past month I’ve seen the Spirit’s work evident in my life. I don’t say this to brag, but to make y’all aware. The Holy Spirit is real and will work in our life when we’re open to its movement.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do the work God has called us to do and we cannot do anything in our life apart from it.

Almost everything I tried doing on my own last year fell apart. I won’t negate those few moments when I knew God was present, but those experiences never lasted and I realize looking back they weren’t meant to. I tried doing things in my own power and strength whether they were Godly or not, but apart from the Spirit, they weren’t fruitful.

When we act on our own wants and desires the Spirit won’t move. But with the Spirit’s leading and help, we can change the world. 

There have been many times lately the Spirit has told me things to do and I’ve been hesitant, but I know if I walk away from the Spirit’s direction, I will regret it. Many things will call for attention and they can be distracting. They will distract us from God’s best for us but with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

In order to do everything God wants from us, we have to make the Spirit known in everything.

Is the Spirit missing in your life? Ask God to help make it known. 

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When Rejection Resurfaces

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Last week, someone I used to really like and care for said something hurtful to me and feelings of rejection resurfaced. What is it about me that people can’t love and appreciate? That was the first thought that crossed my mind.

I’m realizing the more people reject me, I need more of Jesus in my life.

Rejection hurts. No matter which end you fall on, it hurts terribly.  I know in my heart God loves me. He sees my weaknesses as strengths and works through my faults and flaws. However, others can’t and most won’t. This is the reality of life. You’re only good for someone until they no longer need you. Whatever else we have to offer, it doesn’t matter.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but these are feelings I live with daily. Even when God is good, I don’t feel good enough. This hurts to admit, but it’s the truth. Rejection has followed me around for the past several years and no matter who’s the source of it, it hurts worse as I get older.

I want to be the kind of woman who knows her worth in Christ and walks in that identity. I want to stand firm on who God says I am and not let other people’s treatment towards me bring me down. This is an area I’ve continued to struggle with for five years and it hasn’t gotten easier. Sadly, I don’t think it will.

I am hopeful though. I know God is here with me and will guide my heart with the truth of His Word. He always does. He reminds me I’m loved, valued, cherished, and accepted exactly as I am.

Today, if feelings of rejection resurface, rest in this truth.

How do you handle rejection?

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Always Pray and Never Give Up

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“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “– Luke 18:1

This is the second time I’ve been led to this verse and I really needed the reminder today. I’ve been ready to throw in the towel and each time I’m ready to quit, God reminds me to seek, trust, and wait for Him. He doesn’t want me to quit, He wants me to see whatever He’s doing through to the end.

I’ll be honest though, it’s hard. In my mind, I can already see the outcome and I don’t want to go through it again.  I went through seasons of dry spells in my prayer life when God and I weren’t on the best of terms. My prayer life has been active a lot more over the past few months because I know in my heart I need His words to comfort me.

God wants us pray continually, repeatedly, and not give up meeting with Him when things get hard. He tells us in scripture anything is possible if we believe. 

I want the kind of faith that doesn’t quit.

How’s your prayer life lately?

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Show Us How To Increase Our Faith

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“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive. The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” – Luke 17:4-5

Days like today I wonder how I can sit with doubt or question God’s hand in current situations. Each time I ask for a sign, He provides. Loud and clear. He has yet to fail me in this area, but I still waiver in faith.

In this morning’s reading, the disciples knew they needed more faith. Why? Because they were conflicted in the area of forgiveness. And right now, so am I.

The past month or so has been a whirlwind. My life is changing and so is my heart. But I still have issues in trusting and believing. In February, I was deceived and lied to by someone I thought would be a long-time friend.  Not soon after, I was confronted with an area of my past I thought had been long gone and buried. These things prevent me from trusting the Lord completely because in the back of my mind, I’m wondering when the ball will drop and trust will be broken again.

Forgiving others for repeated hurt is hard but it’s the only way faith can work. When people are genuinely sorry for the way they’ve hurt us, scripture tells us we must forgive them. 

I want to walk in the freedom of forgiveness and obey scripture. I spent a lot of time being bitter, resentful, and angry between 2014-2015. Thankfully, God has worked in my heart and life to correct me in this area.

As we learn to forgive our faith in God increases.  If there’s a person in your life who needs your forgiveness, obey scripture and forgive them. This doesn’t mean what they’ve done to you didn’t happen or you’re forced to forget. Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about you. 

Lord, show us how to increase our faith. 

Has your faith been weakened lately because of unforgiveness?

Being A Proverbs 31 Woman

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“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”Proverbs 31:12

The Proverbs 31 woman has always intimidated me. Each time I’m led to read these verses, I’m only reminded of how I fall short in being this kind of woman. This of course is due in part to my issues with insecurity and not feeling good or worthy enough.

As women, it’s difficult navigating through life without a reality check. It’s especially difficult when following the Lord and He convicts us of areas that need improvement. This morning’s reading is only a reminder to me that I will encounter difficult people in my life and have difficult relationships, it’s a part of life. But I want to learn to be helpful, not hurtful with my words and above all, my actions.

I want to be the kind of woman men brag about to their family and friends. I want to be the kind of woman who is gentle with the hearts of the ones God brings into my life. I want to be the kind of person people can look back and say I made a difference in some area of their life.  I want to be a wife my husband is proud to have at his side.  I want my husband to know he can count on me to lift him up not put him down. That he’s appreciated, loved, and no matter what, I’ll always do my best to protect his life and heart.

This is what Jesus does and it’s only right we do too.

I’m not perfect and those close to me know how often I struggle with being kind and patient. But the more time I spend with the Lord, He softens those hard places and reminds me of the kind of woman I need to be.

Women play a vital role in the lives of others, especially men. How we treat other people matters and it’s especially true in our relationships.  Ask God to help you honor them with your words, thoughts, and actions.  This pleases God and it will make a world of difference.

Ladies, is there someone in your life you need to treat better?  Start now.

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