I love the movie “The Princess Bride.” There are few movies that I can handle watching repeatedly – but that is one of them (along with anything starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, or Carey Grant).
If you’ve seen it (and if you haven’t, you must!), you’ll remember the part when Inigo says,
I’ve been thinking of that lately in relation to God. I hear and read about people who have rejected Him because He isn’t behaving in the way they think He should: God allowed something bad to happen to a loved one or to themselves, so they are “done” with Him. Why would they serve a god like that? So they reject him, stop believing in him, write books and create documentaries about why rational people must do the same.
But, like Inigo, I listen and I read and I can’t help saying…”I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” The God of the Bible is not man-made. When we create Him in our own image, we diminish His holiness. We place ourselves above Him. We are, in effect, God, and our way is right.
But the fact is, we don’t get to “define” God. We get to know Him, to worship Him, to serve Him, to hear from Him, to be loved by Him, to live in eternity with Him…but not to define Him. HE is God. We are not.
If you think you might be misunderstanding this Word, read about Him – check out what He says about Himself in the Bible. Don’t make up your own definition of who God is, don’t reject an idea you created. God is far greater, far better, far more holy than most people ever realize.
We worry about just about everything. We worry about how we look and what we weigh, we worry about getting sick, about getting hurt. We worry about being misunderstood, about letting people down.
We start worrying early. We worry about getting good grades, graduating from high school, graduating from college, getting married, getting a job. Then we worry about our kids getting good grades, graduating from high school, graduating from college, getting married, getting a job….It never ends.
And because we all do it, we justify it. We allow it. We even joke about it.
But here’s the deal — worry is a sin. There are about a dozen verses with some version of “Do not worry” in them. Here are just a couple:
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Mt. 6:33
“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” Lk. 12:25
Ultimately, worry reveals a lack of faith. We don’t really believe God is sovereignly in control — of EVERYTHING. If we truly grasped that truth, clung to it, then we could push away our worries, not give them any power over our lives.
So what do we do? Worry that we’re worrying too much?
How about every time we start worrying, we replace that thought with one of those verses? Claim those truths daily, hourly, until the truth replaces the lies. Until we live in the joy of trusting God instead of the bondage of worry.
1. Ask, “Are we doing anything today?” every day.
2. When you miss a day, ask “Did we do anything yesterday?”
3. Every time your teacher introduces a new concept, ask “When will I need this in real life?”
4. Ignore the note on the Homework board, the information on the online lesson plan, and the repeated verbal reminders and react in shock and horror when you’re told to clear your desk for a test.
5. Assume all your teachers get together and plan how to make your particular life miserable.
6. Grab your backpack and stand by the door, like a prisoner waiting for his release, at least five minutes before the bell rings.
7. Ignore the directions for an assignment and then get angry when points are deducted for failing to follow said directions.
8. Go ahead and have a loud conversation in the middle of class, while your teacher is trying to teach a lesson that you might need in real life and will definitely need on the test.
9. Vehemently deny having had a loud conversation during class when you receive a disciplinary note for that infraction.
10. Never consider that your teacher really does have your best interests in mind and might – possibly – know a little something you don’t know.
I planned to write a first-post-of-the-year about how awful 2014 was. I had it all planned out in my mind: Lots of whining and “nothing is going my way” and “woe is me” stuff. Pretty powerful. Incredibly pathetic.
But God has been working on me, and He has made me see that the problems with this year weren’t problems with my circumstances. They were problems with my attitude.
Things aren’t going my way, and instead of dealing with that reality and accepting that the world does not revolve around Krista McGee, I have gotten angry. That self-centered anger has colored everything thing I’ve seen and done; it is like a hundred-pound weight that I have chosen to drag around everywhere, upset that it’s there, but refusing to throw it off.
I don’t want to bring that weight into 2015. And, contrary to the lies I have been feeding myself for months, I don’t have to. My circumstances may not change (and honestly, they aren’t that bad), but my attitude can.
The battle is in my mind – in the thoughts I allow in. If I dwell on what is not true, not honorable, not just, not lovely or excellent or good (Phil. 4:8), I will not be able to rejoice (Phil. 4:4), and I will not have the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). But if I do what those scriptures teach, I will experience the joy that comes, not from life going the way I way I want it to go, but from God.
Because the battle is in my mind, I need to consciously change how I am thinking. I need to declare war on the negative thoughts that vie for my attention. So I downloaded an app called Fighter Verses – it has one verse a week to memorize. I make that verse my lock screen, and look at it throughout the day. When the “woe is me thoughts” enter, I replace them with my verse for the week. I dwell on that, meditate on it, let it fill all those spaces in my mind that have been fertile ground for anger and discontentment.
It is a battle, and I know that it will continue. But I am resolved to choose to seek God and not my own selfish desires. I am resolved to rejoice.
This is TOUGH, folks. I read a lot, and I like most of what I read (if I don’t like it after 50 pages, I stop reading). So I limited this list to what I read most: Christian fiction. And it is in no particular order. I loved, loved, loved all these stories!
Please share your favorites with me as I make my To Be Read list for 2015!
I love Jenny B Jones, and I was thrilled to see that she is writing again, after what – to me – was a lengthy hiatus! Though this is a continuation of her Katie Parker series, which I have not read, I had no problem jumping into Katie and Charlie’s sweet story. Jenny’s trademark wit and oh-s0-believable characters puts this book on my “will read again” pile.
This book. The ONLY thing about it I didn’t like is that the next book in the trilogy isn’t out until JUNE, and I got – hair flip – an advanced copy, so I read this baby almost a year ago. I am DYING, Mary! Still feeling readerly whiplash from all those plot twists, but so ready to find out what happens next!
I am a sucker for first love lost/found stories, and this book adds an interesting twist on that storyline. It is sweet, with depth and humor and so much heart. Becky Wade sure knows how to write a great love story!
Set in antebellum Nashville, this book has so much that I love: a plain heroine (even “regular” girls need love stories!) whose faith, intelligence, and compassion wins over the hero (Jane Eyre, anyone??). I so enjoyed getting dropped into my home state and seeing it as it may have been a century and a half ago. Better than sweet tea!
Heather Burch is unbelievably versatile. Her last books – the Halflings trilogy – were amazing: supernatural YA Christian fiction. This one is a total departure from that genre: contemporary fiction with a historical flavor. Burch is a master storyteller, and I hope she has another book coming out soon. I am definitely a fan!
I bought this book the day it came out. Francine Rivers and 1950s Hollywood?? I couldn’t wait to dive in. And I wasn’t disappointed. She remains one of my favorite authors – able to blend amazing stories with deep truths so beautifully. Francine Rivers points to Christ in every book she writes, and I LOVE that about her.
Denise Hunter can write a great story. I love her fictional Chapel Springs: its residents, its quirks, and its stories. So good. But beware – this book is hard to put down!
What’s better than a good mystery? A good mystery set in 1930s England with smart, clever Drew Fathering solving it. I love this character! He and fiance, Madeline’s, banter is reminiscent of William Powell and Myrna Loy in “The Thin Man” films (if you’ve never seen these, you MUST! Now. Go!).
This is the fourth in the Alaskan Courage series, and they just keep getting better! Pettrey makes Alaska so real, you’ll get a chill as you’re reading. The plots move fast and the characters feel like friends. The next in the series comes out in less than a month. I can’t wait!
Katherine Reay’s debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightly, was so fantastic – contemporary novel saturated with Jane Austen references? Yes, please! But it was so amazing that I wondered if Reay could possibly do it again. But she did! This has more of a sister-romance than anything else – very Jane and Cassandra, Eleanor and Marianne. I loved the depth of character Reay brings, the humanity, the faith. A heartwarming read for Austen-lovers and (gasp) non-Austenites alike.
A friend of mine told me about the Waze app last year – it’s a GPS that not only tells you the best way to a particular destination, but also which routes have traffic delays at any given time. Others using the Waze app can add their comments – an accident reported an hour ago might be cleared now; a police officer is hidden under an overpass; get into the left lane early because the right lane is closed. It’s fantastic. While the app can’t make traffic delays go away, it can make those delays bearable – and it can tell us how to get around the worst part of them.
For example, we were driving back from Tennessee yesterday when we hit terrible traffic on I-75 north of Atlanta. It was frustrating to go from 75 mph to 15. Especially when the traffic was backed up as far as we could see, and we had no idea what was going on, how long it would last, or anything. But then, I opened up Waze, saw there was an accident 4 miles ahead. Waze rerouted us around the accident itself. It still took longer than normal to get through Atlanta. But not as long as it could have taken. Plus, there is something comforting about knowing there is an end in sight, rather than just seeing the long lines of cars stretching far into the horizon.
It made me think: God’s Word is a lot like that app. Infinitely better, of course, seeing as it was written by the Creator of the universe and all. Here’s what I mean: In this life, we are not guaranteed paths that are free of all obstacles. In fact, we are told over and over again that we WILL face trials, temptations, difficulties. Sometimes, when we see those, we can get frustrated, upset. We can want to get off God’s path – it’s so hard! – and just go our own way. But those paths are always dangerous.
When faced with “stand-stills” or unexpected delays in our “travels”, we must look to God’s word. In that, we can find direction. The Psalms and Proverbs tell us time and again that if we put our trust in God, He will make our paths straight. The epistles give us practical helps for how to live – what to do, what not do – so we can avoid the worst of the difficulties. Every book in God’s amazing word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (II Tim, 3:16).
So if the life path you’re on right now seems to be at a stand still – or even if it’s not! – open up God’s word, ask for direction. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
When we lived in Spain (2006-2007), we were surprised to see that political correctness was not an issue during the holidays. Our kids’ public school had a huge nativity scene prominently displayed in the lobby. Thomas was cast as a wise man in his Pre-K3 Christmas presentation. In fact, in Spanish culture, Three Kings’ Day is even more important than Christmas Day.
At first, it sounded great! The real Christmas story was shared, sung, and held in a place of honor. But, as I continued to look, I realized it wasn’t all that great. When it was time to ask for Christmas presents, Santa came to school — with the Three Kings. The kids could ask their “gift giver” of choice for that special Christmas gift.
As I looked and listened some more, it hit me: the story of Jesus coming to earth was seen as fiction – just like the story of Santa. There was no need for political correctness because the story wasn’t so much religious as cultural – a cute part of the holiday season. Baby Jesus and roscon and peeled grapes — all fun Spanish holiday traditions.
It made me sad — the reality that Jesus came to earth is amazing. It is an undeserved gift, given to us by a God who loves us so passionately He was willing to send his son to a world that rejected him then and rejects him still. The baby in the manger is the Savior of the World! And while I have no problem with the fiction of Santa, I do not want my Savior placed in the same category.
So, Christians, let’s not be so quick to be frustrated that Americans are upset at nativity scenes and signs that proclaim “Merry Christmas”. It is a good thing. The true Christmas story is still recognized as the TRUE Christmas story here. It is tied to our faith. People who do not share our faith are upset because this season proclaims biblical truths. Those truths, Jesus himself told us, would offend. When they stop offending – when they start to become “cute little holiday tales” - then we should get upset. So bring on the PC police! And continue to bring out the GREATEST story ever told!
I love Christmas movies! Our family tradition is to save these films for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — no Christmas music or movies any other time of year. So when we finally get to pull these out — woo-hoo! We go crazy.
“White Christmas” is definitely my favorite, but “Elf” is quickly rising up the ranks (it’s just so quotable!!).
What about you? Is your favorite not on here? Tell me about it! I am always ready to try out a new Christmas movie this time of year!
Twenty years ago this week, Dave brought me home for Christmas. Except that he didn’t tell his parents we were dating. He hadn’t even told me we were dating. We had, in fact, been “hanging out” for about six months (yep, that’s months) and he had yet to declare his intentions. But there I was, at his parents’ house in Long Island.
Let me give you some background: David McGee is one of the smartest guys I know. He is also one of the godliest. And he never makes rash decisions. He’s researched cars for close to a year before making a purchase. When he was choosing a seminary, he poured over pamphlets, spoke to every seminary graduate he knew, seeking advice. Whatever the opposite of “spontaneous” is — that’s Dave. And it’s a great thing. God made him cautious, wise. And we balance each other out well because I hardly every think before I make a decision. My gut and a credit card is all I need!
So when we met, Dave was attracted to me, but he was cautious. I was only 19 – a baby. He was 25 – a college graduate. He knew 19-year-olds tended to be fickle and immature. He was at the point where he was ready to find his future wife. And he wanted to be sure he made the right decision. So he watched me. All summer. We worked together at a youth camp. He was one of the Unit Leaders (in charge of a group of counselors), and I was a counselor (not in his unit). His sister conspired to get us thrown together in some activities. Shoot, the whole camp worked on throwing us together. I wasn’t sure I was interested in someone that old, but I had to admire a guy whose Bible was so worn it was held together by duct tape!
That fall, he decided to go to the Word of Life Bible Institute’s (WOLBI) School of Youth, Ministry and Evangelism. He had finished college and he had attended WOLBI’s one-year Bible program the year before me. But he felt God wanted him to study the Bible more, and so he came back. With me. And we hung out. Now WOLBI is super strict, so no couples are allowed to go off campus together or touch at all — not even hold hands. So we spent that fall talking. A lot. That’s a good thing. We really go to know each other – what we liked and didn’t like, what we believed, what we thought God wanted us to do in life. But we didn’t
talk about “us.” Didn’t call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” or even (a WOLBI favorite) a “special” friend.
I was getting a little impatient. I mean, we met in JUNE and it was DECEMBER. I understood cautious, but this seemed excessive! And then he asked me to come home with him. I was so excited! That meant something – we were ready to put the “special” in front of the “friends.” And then he told me he had invited someone else home, too- a friend from school, John, who lived in England and couldn’t go home for the holidays.
“So,” I tried to be as diplomatic as possible. “Do your parents know anything about me?”
“They know you’re coming.”
“Do they think I’m with John or with you?”
“We didn’t talk about it.” He said. “It doesn’t matter.”
It doesn’t matter. Right. But then he said his sister, whom I had known from camp that summer, had been talking to their mom, and she filled her parents in on who I was. Nice.
So I was in Long Island with a guy I was falling hard for and I wasn’t even sure if his parents knew who I was.
Why would he do this? Because I had gotten to know him, I knew it was because he had gotten hurt in the past. He had dated girls and had his heart broken, and he didn’t want that to happen again. His mom had gotten her heart broken, too, when Dave was hurt. So he didn’t want to bring any but “the” one to meet his parents. I knew him asking me to come home was a big deal. But I also knew it was scary for him.
The week ended up being great. Away from the rules of WOLBI, we sat close on the couch, held hands (!), and just had fun. By the time I left, we were “official”. I think I could have flown home without the aid of an airplane!
Now, twenty years later, it is a fun story, one we laugh about when we tell our friends. But, I have to say, as impatient as I was, I am glad Dave was so slow. In a time where life is fast, girls and guys are fast, being slow has major advantages. We spent a long time building a foundation of friendship before we began speaking of love (that was still several more months after this story!). That friendship, built on Christ, is what has sustained us for the eighteen years we have been married, through global moves, heartache and hard times. It has allowed to stay together “For better or for worse.”
And now, twenty years later, it is still one of my fondest Christmas memories!
“Doing Good” is part of almost every religion, part of groups on every side of the political landscape; it is part of slogans and campaigns. It is everywhere. Christians don’t have the corner on the “Good Deeds” market. But we do have a reason for doing good that is different than anyone else’s. Or, at least, we should.
In one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, he said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) So why do we do good? To glorify God and point people to Him.
But, sometimes, I think even Christians forget that. In fact, sometimes, I think Christians fall into the trap of thinking doing good for others means that good will happen to them. They take the idea of “karma” from eastern religions and believe that is a biblical idea. That God will bless you with material things or no disease or no pain if the good you do outweighs your bad.
But that idea cannot be supported by scripture or by experience. Jesus himself was the best man to ever walk this earth. He was Emmanuel – God with us. If anyone “deserved” good, it was this man who healed the sick and cared for the lepers and ate with the outcasts. Yet he was killed. The disciples all faced horrible ends. These were men who loved God and served others with everything they had. I can think of half a dozen people I know, right off the top of my head, who are amazing, wonderful people, people who “deserve” good things. But these people have lost children, lost parents, lost homes, suffered deep hurts, emotionally and physically. All the good these people did did not protect them from hurt and pain.
So why do good? Because it honors God. Because it points people to Him. Because we were created to be part of a community of people who reflects Christ. And what do we get out of it? Wealth that cannot be measured by anything on this earth: Peace that passes understanding. Uncontainable joy. Faith that can withstand storms. Hope in a future that is infinitely better than even the best days we have in the present.