Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jerry Bridges on God's Grace

"Do you begin to get the picture? Are you realizing that God's forgiveness is complete and irreversible? Have you started to understand that regardless of how 'bad' you've been or how many times you've committed the same sin, God completely and freely forgives you because of Christ? Do you see that, because God has already dealt with your sins in Christ, you do not have to do penance or fulfill some probationary term before God can bless you or use you again?"

Jerry Bridges. Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love (page 46). Kindle Edition.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Where Two or Three Are Gathered

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Matthew 18:20, ESV)

I have read this verse countless times. And yet, recently I was struck with something I had never thought about before. Two or three people is not a very large group. In fact, most people would hardly consider it a group at all. As an introvert who frequently is overwhelmed by being around large groups of people for an extended period, the smallness of number of people that Christ is referencing brought great comfort.

He doesn't say, "where two or three thousand are gathered." He simply says, "where two or three." That means that if I'm meeting with a friend for coffee and we are focusing on encouraging each other in Christ, then He is there. That means the smallest of house churches knows that He is there. That means the small band of persecuted Christians who can't meet in a large assembly knows that He is there. That means that the missionary who is just starting to meet with a handful of new believers knows that He is there. Two or three.

It doesn't take a whole crowd for us to know Christ's presence. It doesn't take a major church event for us to know Christ's presence. Just two or three. We can have fellowship in small groups with other Christians and know that Christ is with us.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Favorite Reads from 2014

As mentioned previously, I read a total of 60 books this past year. Some of those were rereads. Some of those were books that were new to me. I want to highlight my four favorite reads from 2014. Two of them were new to me. The other two were old friends.

Believing God by Beth Moore
I read this toward the beginning of the year. Beth Moore has long been a favorite author of mine. I love her commitment to a clear exposition of the Bible. I love her enthusiasm and her passion for God. In Believing God she does a wonderful job of reminding us that we can believe God because of His promises and His character. She also brings home what this looks like in our daily lives.

Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn
Stacy Horn weaves together a marvelous collection of famous choral pieces as well as musings about the importance of singing collectively. If you enjoy music, this book is a must read!

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
While L. M. Montomery is best known for the Anne of Green Gables series, The Blue Castle is my favorite of her books. I hadn't read it in a while, so this year it was time to reread it. And, once again the read was worth every moment.

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
This is another of my favorite books to reread. It had been a couple of years since I had read Lewis' Space Trilogy, so this summer I picked it back up again. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, is my favorite of the trilogy.

Any books you read in 2014 that you recommend? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Reading and Writing Goals 2015

This past year I had two reading and writing goals.
- Writing: the 500 Words a Day Challenge
2014 was my third year participating in this challenge. I've enjoyed it for the past couple of years, and I find it helpful to keep me writing consistently, even if not in large chunks all at once.
- Reading: read a total of 75 books

How did I do?
- Writing: I nailed my goal for the 500 Words a Day Challenge (I hit the goal with just a few words over). Most of this writing was for the classes I teach and for translation freelance projects. Some of it, however, included writing for this blog, as well as some rough draft ideas for a short story or novel. I'm really pleased with how much I wrote.
- Reading: I did not reach my reading goal this year. I read a total of 60 books in 2014.

What's up for this year?
- Writing: I'm planning on continuing the 500 Words a Day Challenge. It's been working well for me, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with this goal this year.
- Reading: My plan is to read a total of 60 books this year. This number is lower than what I set for last year. However, since it is exactly what I read in 2014, I think I should be able to reach this number again in 2015.

How about you? Any reading or writing goals for 2015?

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