Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bible Study Tips: For The Devotional Book Junkie

Bible Study Tips for the Devotional Book Junkie

Many of us avoid studying our Bibles because we have other books occupying our quiet-time. Don’t get me wrong, devotional books and blogs are an incredible tool! The words and guidance of others can be helpful, intriguing, and educational. I have been blessed by the works of many encouraging authors. But these Bible studies and devotional books should be used in addition to reading the actual WORD OF GOD for ourselves.

The Bible urges us to grow in our faith, not remain immature within our understanding of God. Just as a baby grows from drinking milk to eating solid food, we too must grow in our consumption of the Word of God:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

Verse 13 says we must drink milk, yes; but not only milk, also meat. I don’t think we move away from sound teaching and helpful studies (Proverbs 11:14). I do think God is calling us to grow in our understanding of His Word, to further our knowledge as Christians.

So where does the devo-book come in? If God’s Word is the meat, then perhaps the Holy Spirit can use the encouragement of helpful authors as complements to the main course:

Appetizing Devotionals: These books are written to encourage the Christian through short, malleable bits of inspiration. God’s Word is presented in snippets: a short verse or concept from the Bible (e.g. God’s love, or “I can do all things…”). The bulk of a devotional book is the story or metaphor, which expounds on the verse or concept. Many devotionals are about the person reading, not about God per say. While this is not inherently wrong, watch out for books that tell you what you want to hear.

A devotional that speaks the Word of God (instead of the word of ME) make FANTASTIC appetizers. It’s a great way to utilize all the devo books you got for graduation, for being single, or having a baby. Read the verse and encouragement for the day. Let it whet your appetite for more, then flip open your Bible to that passage, Philippians 4:13 for example. Read the entire chapter containing that verse (Philippians 4). Then, read the beginning of the book, or even the whole book, containing that verse (Letter to the Philippians).

Understanding the context, intended audience, timeline, author, and holistic message of the passage, you will start adding “meat” to your spiritual diet. Reading the passage for yourself will also expose false devo-books that promote false ideas instead of the truth of Jesus Christ.

Try these tasty appetizers on your spiritual taste buds:

  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
  • Taste and See by John Piper
    • Have a Favorite? Comment below!

Bible Study Cutlery: Expositional Bible Studies are studies written by scholars or educated writers that unpack Biblical truths. These books, which serve as curriculum in many instances, require the reader to study a specific section of the Bible at a greater depth. A good Bible study resource will focus on scripture says, and the application thereof. A poor study will pivot around what people say (including the author) and how our perspective is “backed up” by the Bible.

A good Bible study will function like a sharp steak knife: they help you consume the meat of God’s Word effectively. Use them without the Bible, and you’ll get that scraping sound a knife makes on an empty plate.

Sharpen your meat-cutting skills with these bad boys:

  • Creation Unraveled by Matt Carter and Halim Suh
  • James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore
  • Mark: a 12 week study by J.I. Packer  and Dane C. Ortlund (this resource is available for free download here!)
  • Check out others from “Knowing the Bible” series, here.)
    • What has helped you the most? Share with us by commenting below?

Delectable Christian-Living Dessert: Typically, books on Christian-Living don’t necessarily focus on one scripture or passage. Rather, they expose a theme or characteristic for Christ-centered living. I like to think of these books as dessert! After studying the depth of scripture for some time, I slide my current book off the shelf, curl up with some tea, and soak in some great wisdom. Again, these books don’t replace my study of Scripture, but they help to paint a clearer picture. I try to look up the verses I am not familiar with, and scrutinize the context in which the author is using them. Over all these books are like teachers, pastors, counselors. Like dessert, we should never expect complete nourishment to come from these books alone, but they can act as icing on the cake, or a helpful snack between meals.

Here are my favorite flavors:

  • Gospel by J.D. Greear
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  • The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller
  • Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
  • Weird by Craig Groeschel
  • Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll
    • Is there a delectable book you savor? Comment below.

Again, if you are struggling to read the Bible for yourself, maybe it is time to change it up. Put down the filler-food (just for a little while) and fill up on the life-giving meat of God’s Word.

Still not “getting there?” If you still catch yourself gravitating away from reading the Bible for yourself, perhaps you are struggling with a different issue. Press the “Follow” button to get updates on more topics for for the Bible Study Struggle.

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Bible Study Tips for the Stuck

Bible Study Tips for the Stuck: What to do when you feel like you can't get going, or keep going, when studying scripture
Do you tend to feel paralyzed when you sit down to read the Bible? Sometimes, the Word of God can seem overwhelming. It is, after all, the WORD OF GOD! But our Creator is just as much Holy, awesome, and beyond understandable as He is intimate, near, and relational. The Bible is the best way to discover the incredible nature of our Great God!

I featured a lot of helpful resources in the “for beginners” post. But even that can be overwhelming. Here are some simple ways to get going, or keep going, when you are overwhelmed or stuck:

1. Just start reading: Prayerfully pick a passage in God’s Word. Maybe you want to start from the beginning. Or pick a book of the Bible you’ve never read. Or read the book your pastor has been preaching from on Sunday mornings.

Eventually, though, we all run into tough spots. We read a verse that confuses us, or start reading about genealogies or rules for washing hands.

2. Keep going! Don’t chase after a different passage cause this one is boring or difficult to understand. Resource yourself with a commentary that will explain the verse. Play an audio Bible while you read through genealogies. Reading the names as you listen to them pronounced keeps your eyes from skipping ahead.

3. One small step for man: One giant leap for your understanding of Scripture. Use this helpful exercise as you read through a section or chapter of the Bible:

  1. Choose a passage. I recommend reading a whole thought. Often this is shorter than a chapter, or the though starts mid-chapter and finishes in the next one. Make sure you aren’t just reading based what the numbers dictate, but where the concept is going.
  2. Read the passage once. Then listen to the passage again. Use your audio Bible app or ask someone else to read it aloud.
  3. Restate/summarize the passage in your own words, either out loud or on paper.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    1. What does this passage teach me about God?
    2. If this passage is true, how am I to obey? What do I do about it?
    3. With whom am I going to share what I just learned? (Prayerfully choose someone specific. Share while it is still fresh in your mind and heart.)

(Thanks to Eric Asp from H20 church at Kent State for introducing this simple way to unpack a passage)

Still not “getting there?” If you still feel stuck, perhaps you are struggling with a different issue. Press the “Follow” button to get updates on more topics for a struggling Bible studier, like the Bible Study Struggle.

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Bible Study Tips and Resources for Beginners: 10 Helpful Tips and Resources to Study the Bible for Yourself

Looking for some helpful hints as you begin to study your Bible? Whether this is your first time looking into scripture for yourself, or you are coming back from a hiatus (we’ve all been there), let these 10 tips and resources help you along the way:

Bible Study Tips and Resources for Beginners: 10 Helpful Tips and Resources to Study the Bible for Yourself

1. Be book-oriented: I know, I know. Reading is hard, boring, and difficult on the eyes. There is no way around it. If you want to study God’s Word for yourself, you are going to have to read. If you aren’t ready, that’s fine. Keep listening to great sermons, watching The Bible on the History channel, and enjoy prayer and worship. All of these are wonderful aspects to discovering a deeper relationship with God. In fact, each of these can be great resources to the auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner. But nothing compares to an intimate understanding of His Word. So get reading glasses if you have to, go as slow as you need to, but let yourself take in the Word of God using the incredible gift God gave you: to read it for yourself.

2. Use a real Bible: Dust off that heavy hunk of God’s Word, open the pages, and smell the paper. Inviting, is it not? Ok, maybe you aren’t the tangible type, but having the book itself in front of you can help when tackling a tough passage. Many Bibles feature cross-references (verses that help explain/connect with the verse you are reading), just look in the side note or bottom of the page.

3. Scribble it up: Once you have your Bible in hand, get a pen (or pencil), highlighter, and tabs stickers. Release yourself from the assumption that God’s word is untouchable–it isn’t. God’s word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and so should you be as you read it.

A pastor friend of mine facilitated the funeral of a wonderful, godly woman. She lived a long life and passed away knowing her destination was the arms of Jesus. The most memorable legacy she left, in the pastor’s opinion, was her Bible. Many pages were worn, blank spaces scribbled with notes and prayers, verses underlined.

Moral of the story? Know your Bible well, know your Savior well.

4. The Christian bookstore is your friend. If you are like me, your Bible might not last a lifetime. I wish I was less careless, but I tend to read excitedly, and aggressively. My Bible has ripped corners, chocolate smudges, and tear-stained pages. Every 5 years or so, I purchase a new Bible. The freshness is inviting. The blank page margins intrigue me: “what is God going to teach me this time?”

Also, if your Bible is a child’s version, teen edition, or maybe a hard-to-read translation (like KJV), it might be time to visit your local Christian bookstore to search for something relevant.

5. Journal the Journey: You might like to use a notebook instead of Bible margins to keep track of your spiritual walk with God. A very godly man keeps a journal as he reads through the entire Bible every year. He has read the Bible in a year for over 20 years! He has over 20 journals, each day features his thoughts on the same passage, every year. He can flip to January 1st, read what God taught Him through Genesis 1, and compare it to what God taught him every January 1st for the last 20 years of his life!

This kind of dedicated journaling also leaves quite a legacy.

6. Bring out the big guns: Utilize some helpful commentaries. A good commentary can help explain some of the cultural and theological background behind passages in the Bible. It is a great place to start before reading a book in the Bible (like Isaiah, for instance) to understand the audience the book was written to, the author, and the style of communication (letter, book of history, poetry, etc.)

Shane and I frequently utilize “The Bible Knowledge Commentary,” given to us by our former BCM directors when we began ministry.

Ask your pastor or mentor for one available from your church. Or check your local library. You can also find helpful commentaries via the internet. I suggest the following:

(Thanks to John Piper for these suggestions.)

7. Find the free stuff. Speaking of John Piper, this pastor has made some incredible material available for free on his website desiringGod.org. Just visit the resource library.

In fact, many published authors and pastors have free Bible study stuff just waiting to be downloaded. Search their sites for more Bible study resources like books, descriptive sermons (like a sermon series on Ephesians), and more commentaries. Here are some of our favorites, from different denominations and cultural backgrounds (all Bible based):

8. Grab that App: So, you’re living in a dorm room the size of shoebox? Don’t have the cash stash for new commentaries or a study Bible? Live on the run, day to day, barely remembering your phone? GREAT! You can still study your Bible in depth and every day with these free apps for your tablet or smartphone.

  • YouVersion: https://www.youversion.com features the Bible in hundreds of different versions and languages; reading plans (I love this feature); and free downloads of the Bible, so the WiFi can’t take it from you… ah, 1st world problems.
  • Glo Bible: http://www.globible.com/aninteractivebible/ this app has less versions of the Bible to offer, but it displays some helpful “lenses” with which to study the Bible: Content, Atlas, Timeline, Media, and Topics.

9. Bookmark a few Bible study websites: Study your Bible with your computer handy, just in case you run into verses that resemble “Riddles in the Dark” (for you Hobbit fans).

  • http://www.biblestudytools.com: great Bible study notes, commentaries, illustrations, daily Bible reading, concordances, a parallel Bible tool, and daily devotionals.
  • http://biblos.com: atlas and maps, dictionary, commentaries, reference Bible, Bible in other languages.
  • http://www.biblegateway.com: this one is my favorite for searching for verses/themes in the Bible, and in different versions. I like this site better than my YouVersion app (and that’s saying a lot!)

10. And More! What helped you to start reading the Bible? Do you have a resource you love? Help a sister out, and post it in a comment below!

Not a beginner? Maybe the reason you haven’t studied the Bible lately is something different. Check out other excuses the Bible Study Struggle.

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A Hobbit’s Take on Studying the Bible

Hi ladies! Check out my post from BCMofSC.wordpress.com, our ministry website. I hope it encourages you greatly as you also pursue deeper knowledge in the Word of God.

Congratulations! Like Bilbo, you are stepping out your door into a great adventure to pursue a deeper knowledge of God. Though you wont encounter a fierce dragon, you may feel like you are fighting a fierce dragon to keep going. That dragon has many scales, including lack of motivation, exhaustion, boredom, confusion, frustration, discouragement, busyness, conviction, and ignorance. You will be tempted to turn back, find your comfort zone again, with doilies and your mother’s dishes.

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Be like Biblo. Sign the contract. Go on an adventure. Discover God’s word for yourself! Grab a few smelly, irritating dwarves (we call them other Christians), and pursue a greater practice of studying the Bible together.

Know that we are praying for you:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [n]forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21

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10 Reasons to Study your Bible during Finals Week

For all my friends from Penn State to University of Wyoming: I know you are enduring the few weeks left of study and exams; here is a little post from our ministry website: BCMofSC.wordpress.com. I hope it encourages you! Hang in there.study bible 1

The end of the semester is approaching fast, and with it, final’s week. So we’ve provided a list of quick tips for studying… your Bible! Don’t forget to engage in some much needed time with God in the next few weeks. Here are a few good reasons why, according to Psalm 119:

1. To finish strong, you will try to study well, avoid opportunities to cheat, and make the most of your last weeks as a student: 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Verse 9

2. Unfortunately, there will still be moments you might feel like a complete failure:

“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.” V. 25

3. Because finals week can lead to some crazy emotions:

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.” V. 28

4. And there are far too many negative activities to tempt you during a study break, which will only tear you down and distract you further:

“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” V. 37

5. Snacking on unhealthy foods while studying can lead to an unhelpful sugar crash.:

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” V. 103

standard-deviation-formula6. When you can’t memorize the standard deviation formula for your Statistic’s final, remember:

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” V. 130

7. More than likely, you’re going to pull an all-nighter. Lucky for you:

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” V. 105

8. Or, you inherited masochists for group-project partners, and they all decided to meet at 6AM to finish the project:

“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.” V 147

9. In the end, you may have to question an unfair grade, or a professor that overlooked your effort. Do not be discouraged. Remember that sometimes….

“…Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.” V. 161

10. When it is all over, you’ll want to party like it’s 2000 and Y2K fell through. Remember to give credit to God who helped you through it all:

“I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.” V. 162

Keep your Bible handy these next few weeks. Try reading a section of Psalm 119 every few hours during your study time (there are 22 stanzas, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet). You may find the insight and encouragement to be just the right perspective for all the stress and deadlines of finals week.

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The Phil4-8 Initiative

There is so much going wrong with the world. Scroll through Facebook. Watch the news. Talk to a friend. If the world isn’t caving in all around us, it is caving in inside us!

I had a very difficult time staying positive last week. For silly reasons, I let bitterness get the best of me in every area of my life: ministry, weather, my body, traffic, family, even my quiet time with God (also known as my Breakfast with Jesus).

Now it is Monday, of a brand new week. I can’t let bitterness and ungratefulness cloud my mind again. I know my Sustainer* has a greater plan for my mind. When it comes to negativity, my mom has always said, “don’t let it rent space in your head.”

Now, I cannot put a big neon “No VACANCY” sign on my forehead. But I can welcome the right guests into my brain.

Luckily, God didn’t leave me without a playbook in this area. So I will put to practice the Phil4-8 Initiative: to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, and anything of excellence or worthy of praise. My mission: dwell on these things. (Philippians 4, verse 8).

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Anybody else struggling to find a silver lining? Make yourself a “Phil4-8” list (pronounced: “fill”-four-eight)

Here is mine for today:

Becky’s Phil4-8; April 22, 2013

  • True: I have been giving the resume of Jesus Christ.
  • Honorable: our amazing set of students who helped clean up after last night’s dinner.
  • Just/right: God’s perfect holiness and intimacy displayed at creation (I am currently reading a Bible study titled, Creation Unraveled.)
  • Pure: the affection and trust a baby has for her mama, even while sitting in a shopping cart. I was blessed to catch this scene in passing while at the grocery store.
  • Lovely: The sparkly snow (it may be April, but it’s still pretty)
  • Commendable: the exceptional attitude of the checker at Walmart. Good job!
  • Excellent: A young friend of mine longing to be faithful for her future husband.
  • Praise-worthy: My husband willingness to go the extra-mile at work.

Need more ideas? Read this post I wrote last year, about my trip to South Africa and how God taught me to see the positive in a very discouraging situation. That’s where the Phil4-8 initiative all started for me.

Please know, I am praying for you. I hope to hear how God is working in your MIND today. Comment below or share a link to your own blog.

In His praise-worthy grace,

Becky

*I am trying to use relevant and intimate words for God, specific to the characteristic He is revealing of Himself. Today, I am reminded that HE is my Sustainer.

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May Day is coming….. 4 ways to celebrate May 1st

May Day Girl's night, 2009
May Day Girl’s night, 2009 (what is happening with my face?)

May Day is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year. I have to thank my neighbors for sparking this excitement in high school. After moving into the neighborhood, we didn’t know many people well. But one special day, the 1st of May, we received a sweet small basket of flowers and candy on our front porch. Eventually, we figured out who gave it to us, and I have kept the favor going ever since.

Today, I want to share my favorite traditions for the holiday. Some are old and founded somewhere in Europe, others are my own yearly habits that everyone can enjoy.

Delightful Ding-Dong-ditch: Prank your neighbors with kindness. Drop off a beautiful basket to brighten their day. Just remember to catch them before they leave for work/school, or the goodies might freeze/go bad. If you plan to give home-baked goods, you may want to break the tradition of being anonymous; let your neighbors know you aren’t a creeper.

Lei Day!!! Hawaiians have their own tradition for May 1st: put leis on everything! I plan to join them this year, and I hope to pass on a few leis to friends (and perhaps their cars) throughout the day. My game will be simple: if I give you a lei, you can either wear it for Lei Day, or pass it on to someone else for the same reason.

Leaving a basket for your beau: The morning of May 1st, drop off a basket at your boyfriend/fiance’s front door. Traditionally, if the gentleman catches the lady, he is rewarded with a kiss. Now what girl isn’t loving this opportunity to flirt so openly but still play hard to get?

I go into full stealth mode for May Day with Shane. The first year I gave him a basket, he didn’t have a clue what was going on. The next year, he just wasn’t fast enough to catch me. He enjoyed lemon-snowflake cookies for breakfast, and I escaped without a kiss. He definitely made up for it later, and every May Day since.

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The baskets prepped and ready

Girl’s Night In: Host a girl’s night to prep baskets the day before May Day. (Or you can do this as a family with your kids. May Day is a great opportunity to teach them the joy of self-less giving, with no expectations of return.)

Ask each friend to bring a dozen of one item to contribute. You can collaborate the loot, swap, and share when you make the baskets. Here are some suggestions:

  • Flowers/Pinwheels
  • Vases (or empty bottles)
  • Bottled Soda
  • Cookies or scones
  • Fruit
  • Candy
  • Gardening Seeds
  • Tea bags
  • Baskets (check the Dollar Tree!)
  • Note Cards
  • Leis (for Lei Day!)

Be unique: 

  • Make your own basket!
  • Make “flowers” out of candy, tea bags, or gardening seed packets.
  • Give a box of bottled soda: empty one soda bottle to use as a vase for flowers. (Thanks to my former neighbors for this idea!)
  • Paint an inspirational quote on a small canvas.
  • Share the greatest gift of all: include a small Bible or devotional book.

Know your neighbor? Give something more unique and personal.

  • If you are May Day-ing your room-mate, include a cute pair of flip flops or slippers.
  • Know a house full of girls? Use nail polish and foot massaging cream.
  • Ding-Dong-ditching some guy friends? Make a bacon basket; include jerky; make it manly.
  • Giving some love to neighbors with little kids? Include juice boxes, bubbles, play-doh, or crayons.

Don’t just give a basket to people you know. Share the love with new neighbors, your mailman/woman, or people in a completely different neighborhood (perhaps a low-income neighborhood nearby.) Even a homeless man on the street could use a basket of cheer.

Keep a few extra baskets with you throughout the day. Pray about who God would want you to bless and expect a joyful encounter.

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Using your Wedding to Give Generously

giveLooking for ways to make a difference in your life? Your wedding day can be one of them. Here are 7 ways you can impact your world through your Wedding.

  1. Tithe 10% of the cash you receive from your wedding
  2. Purchase as much of your wedding accessories, jewelry, shoes, dresses, and thank-you gifts through a fair-trade company. My friend’s website, Consumers in Christ, hosts some EXCELLENT and stylish suggestions that help men and women all over the world.
  3. Post a charity along with your gift registry. Idofoundation.org has some great ideas.
  4. Give away your dining wear to a church, low income family, or shelter after your wedding or sell your wedding decorations to raise funds for a family in the process of adoption.
  5. Use Eco-friendly wedding invitations.
  6. After your wedding, visit a nursing home (or ask your bridesmaids/family to) and give each resident one of the flowers from your wedding.
  7. Instead of trashing the dress, sell it and anonymously donate the cash to a single-mom in need.
  8. Take a long look at your budget. Place a star next to the things that you are most excited about. Put a check mark on things you’ve already purchased. Circle anything that is a must-have (officiant, license, etc.) Is there anything left over that you could live without? Anything that could be exchanged for something less expensive (eco-friendly paper cups vs. mason jars). What could you do with the money you save?
  • Put it towards getting out of debt (think school loans, etc.), so you can live more generously later?
  • Or perhaps start a mission’s trip fund for you and your hubby’s next trip (we went to South Africa).
  • Save it as a special R-A-K (random act of kindness) date fund. Save that extra cash in a jar or envelope, and once a month/year, bless someone extravagantly in Jesus name. Or take it on your honeymoon and do the same thing. Purchase someone else’s dinner, or generously tip the host at your hotel … tell him to spend it on his wife. You will love how much fun you have together giving good gifts to others.

Do you have any suggestions? Post them in a comment below!

Want more ideas on planning a Christ-Centered Wedding? Follow me on Pinterest.

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4 Reasons you should go “all out” for your wedding

all out 2When it comes to a wedding, some people tend to disagree on the amount of celebration necessary. After conversations about having a Christ-Centered wedding, many brides assume they must slice their budget in half to give more money to missions. This is not at all what I suggest, nor is it necessarily what God is asking.

Now, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to worship God through an extravagant financial gift to His kingdom, gather the courage to do so joyfully. (Find creative ideas here.)

Otherwise, remember that your marriage is marvelously important and deserving to be commemorated!  Here are 4 reasons why a Christ-Centered wedding should be celebrated well:

1. Jesus celebrated! He attended a wedding, and when given the opportunity to provide the items for celebration (namely, wine), He went all out! Jesus provided the best wine. Of course, Jesus was not restricted by a budget; but the point is that “going all out” to honor an important event is not a sin.

J.D. Greear pointed this out well in his book, Gospel:

“The point is that Jesus provided good stuff for people at the party because He loved His Father’s creation and knew that by enjoying it we glorify God.” (2011, p. 135)

2. Your marriage is the picture of Christ. God chose marriage as the visual to humanity of His loving sacrifice for His bride (Ephesians 5). All the ups and downs of marriage is a perfect example of the closeness and distance we experience in our devotion to God. But through the cross, Christ made a covenant with us to never leave or forsake us, no matter what our mood is. I can think of no better way to capture that beauty than through marriage-covenant. Our relationship with Christ should be honored. Use your wedding to place value on God’s idea of a self-portrait.

3. By going all out, you are saying to your guests “this matters.” God’s plan for marriage is important. His gift to us is valuable. Our commitment should be commemorated in the best way possible.

Remember, its not all about you (the bride). So you are not communicating your own importance, rather the gravity of the commitment. Go big or go home. Let your wedding leave an impression for your guests on what marriage really is about: covenant between 2 people as the picture of Christ and an example to others. And that calls for a significant celebration.

4. This is God’s incredible gift to you! I remember when my dad purchased a car for my graduation present. Overwhelmed, I felt undeserving of it. I tried to keep very calm and humble about the situation, not wanting to act like a spoiled brat. Later that day, my dad approached me, “what’s wrong with the car, do you not like it? Did I do something to bother you?”

By avoiding “excessive celebration” I gave my dad the impression that I didn’t appreciate his gift. I think we often assume God expects us to be humble and reserved about the blessings He gives us. But like my dad, our Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts! (Luke 11:13)

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) didn’t deserve the outpouring of love, the feast, the ring, the acceptance, or the party he received upon returning to his Father. But his Father “killed the fatted calf” and made a HUGE deal out of their relationship. It is good to make a HUGE deal out of something so beautiful and worthy of celebration.

Of course we don’t deserve an amazing husband (or wife). It is God’s lavish gift for us to share a lifetime of love,  children, ministry, joy, hardship, and amazing memories with each other. Not to mention the privilege it is to be one physically with your husband! God knows how to give good gifts, and we should receive and celebrate them happily.

Realize these are not excuses to go into debt for your party. This is simply an encouragement to see your wedding as an important and worthy moment. Be unique and innovative in your plans to celebrate; find ways to make a fantastic party that doesn’t break the bank (subscribe for more ideas to come).

Brides, make it matter. Throw an extra-special shin-dig in commemoration of marriage. Invite your friends and family to don their best party dress and rock-out with you all night long. As you plan your wedding, keep in mind how to glorify God and celebrate His goodness in your life, to the best of your ability.

*Married? I’d love to hear how you celebrated your wedding. Comment below (its easy, I promise) or visit me on Facebook.

*Want more ideas on planning a Christ-Centered Wedding? Follow me on Pinterest.

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Overcoming fear and “Going on an Adventure”

I am feeling a tad apprehensive about this journey of becoming a writer. For the last few months I’ve been feeling a bit intimidated to say the least. I finished writing a book, but now I have to edit it…. And I should probably let other people review it also.

Also, God brought an amazing connection to a college ministry magazine… all I have to do is send in a few articles and see where God takes it.

I could start writing published material. Or I could be royally rejected and have to try again. Both possibilities intimidate the dickens out of me.

I’ve spent the day cleaning and writing silly little blog posts like this one to help get over my fear and anxiety, and the consequential writer’s block. In the quiet and mundane, the Holy Spirit encourages me:

“You have nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. You are found in Me, secure in My approval of you, and equipped by all my power to take this leap of faith. My lovingkindness is new every morning, as will be the horizon when you face rejection. Trust me and move forward. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, …you who wait for the Lord!

So what if I taste defeat? I’ll brush my teeth and jump back into the day (thanks to Reliant K for these lyrics).

Every time  pray about this, God brings the picture from “The Hobbit” of Bilbo becoming completely undignified for the journey ahead.

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So there you have it, friends…. “I’m going on an adventure!!!”

How about you? What journey is God leading you on? Have any tips on overcoming your fears and taking that leap of faith? Share by commenting below!

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