Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: October 2017

Dance in Faith. Stand on Holy Ground. Run on Mission for God.

I mentioned previously how I took a big (for me) leap this summer by signing up to be on two different launch teams (I reviewed the first of those books, Holly Gerth’s Fierce Hearted, here in case you missed it). The second of those books (actually the first one I signed up for) came out yesterday. I’m so, so glad that I took the risk and said yes to be on these teams, because I’ve been so blessed by each book, albeit in different ways.

Dance Stand Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground is a book that author and pastor’s wife Jess Connolly (co-author of Wild and Free) felt led to write after trying to convince three different women that they needed to watch the show Pretty Little Liars. In church. On Easter Sunday. And then, as she tells it, she went home feeling disappointed and let down, and as she prayed expressing her confusion as to why their congregation didn’t experience the spiritual awakening and revival that they’d been hoping and praying would happen, she remembered those three conversations, and a thought struck her: “Have we forgotten about holiness?”

This is, at its core, a book on the fundamentals of Christianity. That might strike some as being too elementary, but the hard truth is that we all need a refresher course on the fundamentals of faith. I think we all know church bodies — as well as individual believers — who are so legalistic they’ve forgotten about grace. Just as we also know those who emphasize grace to the exclusion of holiness, righteousness and sanctification–fearing that to even mention the idea that receiving God’s grace should transform us to be more like Jesus is a slippery slope that leads to legalism and bondage.

In Dance Stand Run, Connolly firmly but gently presents a Biblical case that grace and holiness go hand-in-hand, and that to focus too much on one and not enough on the other leads to a faulty Christianity. She makes the case that, while it’s certainly a blessing to rejoice in our deliverance and what we were delivered from, we also need to remember what we were delivered to — to a life of transformation and sanctification made possible by the Holy Spirit. Grace says we don’t have to be holy — but that we get to be holy.

I especially appreciated the chapter that talks about drawing a circle around yourself and your own holiness. I and the Holy Spirit in my are the only ones who get to decide what holiness looks like in my life, just as you and the Holy Spirit in you are the only ones who get to decide what holiness looks like for you. So if I’ve decided that I can’t watch Game of Thrones that doesn’t mean I get to decide other Christians shouldn’t be watching it, either. And if you feel like you shouldn’t read Harry Potter you don’t get to decide other Christians shouldn’t read it.

Connolly doesn’t pull any punches, even delving into that touchy subject of alcohol, and getting a big ol’ YES AND AMEN from me when she points out that we can get drunk on all kinds of things–things that might be innocent on the surface and perfectly fine for someone else can be crutches or stumbling blocks if our motivations and our relationships with these things aren’t what they should be. She invites each of us to examine our own lives and encourages us to focus on identifying the planks in our own eyes and not getting distracted by the specks we see in the eyes of other people.

I also like that each chapter includes a section of Bible study, taking a close look at a relevant passage of scripture, as well as questions to aid self-examination and personal application. I haven’t read it myself, but I know that there’s also a Bible study guide available to go along with the book.

This book confirmed a lot of my own beliefs, which might bias me in its favor, but it also convicted me more times than I’d like to admit. I think this is a timely book that’s needed in today’s Church, full of life-changing truth and encouragement. It could just spur the kind of spiritual awakening and revival that Jess was hoping for on that cringe-worthy Easter morning.

I’m a Fierce Hearted Woman (and So Are You)


I did a rash thing back a couple of months ago, and that thing was applying to not just one but TWO book launch teams for books coming out in October. Signing up to that first one already felt a little wild and crazy for me, but taking on a second one? Whoa Nelly.

Y’all are probably starting to think that I have a pretty low bar for what constitutes “rash” and “wild and crazy” in my life. And you’re right. But I was still so caught up in the habit of overloading my plate that I tended (and still do) to guard my precious time and capacity like a mama bear guards her cubs. I was a chronic “no” sayer. So saying yes to these books, to helping usher them into the world, was kind of a big deal for me.

But they have both been so worth it.

The second yes was actually for the first of the books coming out this month. It comes out today, actually (which was yesterday by the time this gets posted). That book is Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth.

Holley writes beautifully, in a way that is accessible and relatable. But the thing I love most is that reading this book felt a lot like sitting at a table across from a wise, funny big sister (which is funny because she’s probably a little younger than me) who doles out love, encouragement and sound advice over coffee. I get the sense that Holley is wired a lot like I am, and she’s had a lot of the same experiences and hardships that I’ve experienced, and it’s shaped her in a way that makes me kind of want to be her when I finish growing up, except that she would tell me–and does in her book–that I should only want to be me, the truest, fiercest version of myself that God created me to be.

I feel like this lady gets me, is what I’m sayin’.

Fiercehearted is a relatively short book. It’s 40 chapters long, plus an introduction and epilogue, but each chapter is only a few pages long. Each one relates an anecdote from the author’s life and lessons the anecdote taught her about life and faith and how those lessons can apply to all of us. If the amount of pink highlighter that got used up in my advance reading copy is any indication, practically every page resonates with encouragement and truth. Sometimes those truths are hard, but she always brings it back around to hope.

This book helped me confront some hard truths about myself and my own life, helped me lay down some things I’d been holding onto too tightly that had become too heavy to bear, and helped me find healing and hope in ways I did not expect. I didn’t know I was signing up for therapy when I signed up for the launch team, but to say that this book has been therapeutic would not be wrong.

All in all, this book has been a real blessing, and saying yes to this opportunity has been one of the best yeses I’ve given all year. Hopefully, you’ll say yes to it too, and be just as blessed by it as I have been.

Did you pre-order this book? Are you planning to read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments! Oh, and PS – that link is an Amazon affiliate link. The book is also available pretty much wherever books are sold, but if you decide to order it from Amazon, doing so through that link will give me a small commission that will help to support this site. Thanks!


A Biblical Case for Simple Living

The Apostle Paul extolled the virtues of living a quiet life, and Jesus Christ himself taught that we shouldn’t chase after material goods, but focus instead on serving others and nurturing our faith. Indeed, during his earthly ministry, Jesus seemed to embrace a lifestyle of minimalism and simplicity, trusting God for his every earthly need.

While the Bible doesn’t command us to live simply, it makes a case that simple living can make us more content.

What is the simple life?

Whether you call it minimalism, essentialism or simple living, the philosophy boils down to the same thing: Eliminating the unnecessary things from your life that distract you and consume your time, money and energy.

Here are some signs that your life has become too hectic, and you might benefit from simpler living:

  • You feel exhausted and burned out
  • You skip church because you need to work, or because that’s your only time to rest
  • Debt prevents you from tithing or giving
  • Spending time with your family is something you have to squeeze into your schedule
  • You can’t find time for your health and your hobbies

Read the rest at Brightpeak Financial blog!