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Bible, Family, Legacy, Only One Life, Uncategorized

The story of your life is changing the world…

July 27, 2018
This article was originally posted on Ann Voskamp’s blog.

Are you a woman of legacy?

The idea of leaving a legacy may sound intimidating. But legacy is not meant only for the elite few who have great power or influence.

It’s certainly a grand word, and a daunting word at that.

So let’s start by what we don’t mean. Legacy is not the idea of leaving financial wealth to someone. It’s not reserved only for people whose names will be in history books, on monuments, or in record books.

Legacy is far more.

It is the story of your life that lives on after you leave this earth. You write this story every day through the values you embrace and live out.

Your legacy can be positive or destructive, but the outcome is always up to you.

When viewed from this lens of small daily actions and how they add up, creating a legacy is the most important job we can undertake.

Creating a legacy is the most important job we can undertake. -@laurenamcafee @jackiedgreen #onlyonelifebook Click To Tweet

Legacy is crafted by our faithful everyday choices. Anyone can truly leave a lasting legacy—even you.

The hope for a legacy is: to outlive our lives by the impact we leave behind.

Now, whenever the subject of legacy arises among Christians, it is usually a reference to the legacy of men. It’s pretty safe to say that there are more men mentioned in the Bible, recognized throughout history, and likely to be recognized in leadership roles even today, not just in our country but around the globe.

Does this mean that women don’t matter as much? Of course not! We simply are more likely to be valued for roles that don’t get a plaque or an award.

This sentiment was reiterated by Bishop Ndimbe of Kenya when he said, “Train a man, you train an individual; train a woman, you build a nation.”

Not always, but most often, it is the women who have a directional and influential role in the way a society goes, because they are the ones most often taking care of that society’s most valuable asset: the next generation.

In a similar way, there are certain cultural and societal impacts that we women are uniquely gifted by God to make.

In every place on earth and in every time in history, right down to ours, women have been the keepers of the flame of family unity and the binders of the cords of connectedness. We are seemingly handcrafted by God Himself to be the conversation starters, the communication hubs, and the culture keepers.

Typically, women serve as the family scribes and historians. With our scrapbooks, newsletters, cards, and social media posts, we celebrate the milestones, keep in touch with friends and family members, share the news of both victories and challenges, and chronicle every aspect of family history.

We also tend to function as the cultivators of connection and relationship. Who takes the time to care for the office staff and maintain culture? Who plans the office Christmas celebrations and birthday parties? In most cases, it is we women.

We are usually the ones reading the stories or saying the bedtime prayers, snuggling in rocking chairs, whispering words of comfort, affirmation, and biblical truth into impressionable little ears.

It is in our nature to pour ourselves into the ones we love, and that is a beautiful part of legacy. 

Legacy is so much more than your family history or the possessions you pass on to the next generation. As Dr. James Dobson once said at a conference, “Heritage is what you give to someone. Legacy is what you do in someone.”

All of this and more endows the Christian woman with an amazing power, not to mention an immense responsibility. Our unique roles and gifts provide us with the opportunity to be influencers

Your unique roles and gifts provide you with the opportunity to be influencers. -@laurenamcafee @jackiedgreen… Click To Tweet

How we use that power is up to us. We can wield it in positive, negative, or neutral ways.

As a woman, whether or not you happen to be a mother, you have an irreplaceable role in our society.

God created women with unique gifts and traits, and we all have an important role in passing on our legacy of faith.

Our hurting world needs godly women leaders now more than ever.

We can lead. We must lead.

Future generations will bless us if we press through our obstacles, fears, and insecurities to meet the sobering challenges our families and communities now face, and invest in others.

Doing so will create a positive ripple affect for generations to come.

What will your legacy be?

 

-LM and Jackie Green

 

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Family, Legacy, Only One Life, Theology

Shaping a Prayer Legacy

June 3, 2018

Did you realize that a woman who took part in influencing the history of Christianity in modern western society is someone you’ve likely never heard of?

She lived in the rural village of Epworth, England in the 1700s, and her name is Susanna Wesley. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, (and I don’t blame you) you may at least be thinking that her last name “Wesley” seems familiar – the same as some famous Christian influencers that you’ve heard about before: John Wesley and Charles Wesley.

If your brain was trying to associate them, then you are headed in the right direction!

John and Charles were two of the ten children that Susanna Wesley raised. John Wesley was a preacher who is estimated to have taught nearly a million people in his long, fruitful ministry. It is hard to overstate the impact John has had on theological thought and denominations in the western world. His brother, Charles Wesley also made a significant impact as a musician and lyricist. He wrote more than 6,600 hymns, many of which are still sung today. Two accomplished world changers, but it was their mother that helped shape their faith.

Though Susanna was a woman who crafted an impressive legacy, it didn’t come without its trials. Susanna’s husband, Samuel Wesley, was not particularly good at his job. Nor was he good with money. This left Susanna and her children to fend for themselves, working hard just to have enough for their large family to stay fed. On top of that, Susanna was responsible for all of the household duties and managed to provide a world-class education to her children through homeschooling.

Despite difficult circumstances, Susanna always trusted in God and never let her busy schedule keep her from praying.

Susanna was sure to schedule two hours of time with God every day, even amidst the most complex and busy years of raising her children. She was known to go to her favorite chair in the living room with her Bible and throw her apron over her head to allow for some “privacy” so she could spend time in prayer. Her faith and consistent prayer life obviously left their mark on her children, as we can see through the faith legacy of her sons! What a seemingly simple act – carving out time for prayer – yet it was more powerful than she could imagine.

Prayer can be a difficult thing to value these days. In a world of endless busyness and the constant bombardment of distractions, it’s hard to set things aside and just be in the presence of God. Yet prayer is one of the most influential things any of us can do.

Susanna created a legacy of prayer and faith that lived on long after her time on earth. We each have the opportunity to invest in the eternal an, in a sense, “outlive our lives” by doing so. What can you invest your time in today that will matter in eternity?

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To follow the stories of other women like Susanna who have used their “every day” to shape an eternal legacy, you can pick up the book that I co-authored with my mother, Jackie Green! It’s called Only One Life: How A Woman’s Every Day Shapes An Eternal Legacy, and you can get a copy at www.onlyonelifebook.com.

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Bible, Church, Culture, Family, Legacy, Life, Only One Life

The Beauty of a Life Surrendered

March 27, 2018

Editors note: This article was originally published at foreverymom.com

Billy Graham’s funeral earlier this month marks the celebration of a man whose impact is incalculable. This was a man who spoke to 215 million people, wrote dozens of books, founded the influential Lausanne Movement, counseled thirteen United States Presidents, and led the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in his lifetime. He no doubt should be recognized for the great man that he was. But as we reflect on his life, we would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to recognize his partner in all of his accomplishments: his loving wife of over 60 years, Ruth Bell Graham.

The cliché goes “behind every great man is a great woman.” In Billy Graham’s case, this is certainly true.

As the world knew Billy Graham for his packed crusades and gospel preaching, fewer knew of Ruth Bell Graham’s equally important role in crafting the Graham family legacy.

Ruth Bell Graham: A Legacy of Loyalty

Ruth was born in China to missionary parents Dr. Nelson and Virginia Bell. Growing up with missionary parents, Ruth developed her own love for foreign missionary work and felt a deep sense of calling to move to the largely unreached nation of Tibet.

Before pursuing her calling as a missionary, Ruth attended Wheaton College in Illinois. While there, her life and calling would forever be changed after meeting a young man with a passion for preaching. That man was her future husband, Billy Graham. When Ruth and Billy fell in love, Ruth had to decide what to do with her conflicting desires. She wanted to marry Billy, but he had no plans to become a foreign missionary.

Ruth ultimately set aside her fears and confusion, married Billy, and trusted God to work out their mutual calling. Neither of them had any idea that her heart for the world and his heart for preaching would end up serving them well in their future ministry together. Ruth chose to be loyal to her soul mate, and she worked alongside him in ministry for 43 years.

In those 43 years, Ruth may not have been the one on stage, on air, or on television – but her ministry and legacy is equally as important. Former president of Wheaton College Dr. Duane Litfin once remarked, “Strong, steady, and dauntless, Ruth Bell Graham was the glue that held the many of the parts of their lives together.” 

Because of her faithfulness to God, Ruth not only had a part in making Billy’s ministry possible, she was a spiritual encourager to her husband. Rev. Graham explained, “I have been asked the question, ‘Who do you go to for counsel, for spiritual guidance?’ My answer: my wife, Ruth. She is a great student of the Bible.” God used Ruth to minister to America’s minister.

She also greatly invested in their children as she stayed home during much of Billy’s travels. Investing in her children would prove to make an impact that still lives on today as many of them have ended up working at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, starting their own ministries, speaking, writing, and serving the Lord in various ways. Her impact lives on in her children and grandchildren. What a legacy!

A different interpretation

While reflecting on this incredible woman and the faith legacy that she has left behind, I couldn’t help but wonder how our culture might view this fiercely loyal woman. I fear those who hold up the banner of “feminism” would be forced to deny any claim that Ruth Graham’s life is an example for other women.

Ruth, after all, largely set aside her dream of being a missionary in Tibet in order to get married and support her husband’s calling. She also stayed home and raised their many children while her husband’s career in ministry skyrocketed. These life choices are likely to be criticized by those who speak on behalf of women in the feminist movement.

A simple Google search of the word “feminism” shows the dictionary definition as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” This sounds like something nearly everyone should agree upon, right? Yet, when we see feminism played out in American culture, it often translates into a very narrowly defined set of life choices. In order to be “pro-woman”, the loudest culture voices would say a person must be pro-choice, pro-career outside of the home, and downplay the value of having and raising children. 

With that understanding of what it means to be feminist, those who claim it’s view would have to look at Ruth Graham’s life as a failure.

Eternal Perspective

Thankfully, we can recognize Ruth’s life for what it was: A life that created a lasting legacy; a life that truly outlived itself.

As people of faith, our perspective should be shaped by what the Bible teaches, not what our culture claims. And while we must give complete ownership to God for the success of Billy and Ruth Graham’s influence, we can recognize that He chose to work through Ruth and her partnership with Billy to accomplish great Kingdom impact.   

As we rightly reflect on Billy Graham’s incredible impact in our world, I am deeply grateful for the faithful witness of Ruth Bell Graham who loyally served alongside Billy to accomplish God’s calling for their family. She may not be recognized by feminists today, but in God’s kingdom – she was a faithful servant. 

In my forthcoming book Only One Life, I’ve written about Ruth Bell Graham and many other women like her who choose to daily surrender their lives to God. Through seemingly small offerings of faithfulness, God has used women to bring about great change in the world. 

How will you shape your choices today to shape an eternal legacy?

 

-LM

Adoption, Bible, Family, Life, Theology, Uncategorized

Sorrowful But Always Rejoicing

December 11, 2017

The past few months have been some of the darkest I’ve experienced in years.  l had expected the fall of 2017 to be full of joy and celebration as Museum of the Bible opened, a project I’ve been invested in for nearly 8 years. But along with the great joy from this season, it’s been full of pain. And it’s hit on many levels.

The past two months have brought personal medical issues (infertility), a family member’s death, broken trust in close relationships, personal attacks, and many close friends experiencing their own tragedies, all the while as l am trying to keep up with my full time job, a PhD work load on nights and weekends, and co-writing my first book with my mother. It’s a season that’s brought back panic attacks, heartache, doubt, and insecurity. It’s also a season l feel God’s presence more than l have in a long time. It’s driven me to His Word, and to prayer.

In the midst of this season, one night l was supposed to go to an award ceremony in the evening to receive an award along with dozens of other recipients. l actually hadn’t told anyone about the award except my mom and husband. The day of the award ceremony turned out to be one of the more difficult days because of events that transpired. Those difficult events caused me to feel unable to get to a place where l could get out and go to this award banquet.

My husband Michael was out of town, but a few friends knew what was going on. As I got home from work, my sister (in-law) and a close friend from my community group showed up at my door with listening ears, my favorite snacks, flowers and a candle. (My sisters live on opposite coasts, and had told these friends what my favorite things were.) They spent hours with me, just listening to me and loving on me.

That same week, l was in church during the worship time when my best friend came over to just wrap her arms around me tight and l just began to cry. No words were necessary. She knew she couldn’t make it better, but she could be present.

So, you get the idea: it has been a season with varying levels of suffering. I’ve been broken, and it’s been difficult.

This is not a post for sympathy, or a “poor me” attitude. No, this is a “me too” because l know I’m not the only one who has felt weary.

Through it all, l rest in the words “it is well.”

In the midst of the storm, l am acutely aware of where my hope lies. Can you believe that our hope is not in our circumstances or even in this life? What a gift. Our hope lies beyond the grave, and in Christ. The author of Hebrews says that it was “for the JOY that was set before him (Christ) endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2, italics mine)

Our hope lies beyond the grave, and in Christ. Click To Tweet

How could Christ have possibly had any measure of joy before him in enduring the horrible death on the cross? It’s because His hope was in what was beyond the cross. And for those of us in Him, our hope is the same. Someday every tear will be gone and every broken thing redeemed for those of us that know God through His Son. That is my hope.

Yes, l am human, and l will grieve, cry, vent and take time to heal. But the hope from Christ makes the season sweet. l love the way it’s brought me closer to Him. l love that it’s been a process of stripping away the things l places my identity in so that all l have left is Christ. l love that it’s made me grateful for the many small joys l see every day. And l love that its allowed me (okay, forced me) to experienced grace from my husband, sisters, closest friends and my church community group.

l love that this suffering created a process of stripping away the things l places my identity in… Click To Tweet

A season like this gives me greater appreciation for the words of Horatio Spafford who wrote these lyrics after losing his four daughters in a shipwreck:

 

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul”

 

Indeed, because of the cross, it is well with my soul. 

 

-LM

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Adoption, Bible, Family, Life, Theology, Uncategorized

Hope in the Midst of Infertility

November 21, 2017

Remember when you dreamed of what your life might be like at a certain age? Then once you reach that age, you are surprised by how different things turned out? I’m sure anyone over the age of five has experienced this on some level. I know I certainly had different expectations on where I might today–just months away from turning 30.

This month marks two years of my husband’s and my journey with infertility. It also marks five years of unsuccessfully pursuing adoption. This may not be where I expected to be, but maybe I should have.

At least one in six couples will experience some form of infertility. (1) Of those cases, one third of infertility will be attributed to the female, one third will be attributed to the male, and one third will be attributed to both or will be unexplained. Regardless of who or what the cause of infertility is attributed to, it invariably impacts both.

When we realized that having kids wasn’t going to come easy for us, we wanted to be open with others about our experience. I find great comfort knowing that people are praying with us and support us in our journey. As I’ve shared about our experience, I am incredibly humbled when others are willing to trust us with their own stories. That is what motivates me to share with you. Some of the most powerful words I’ve found are “Me, too.”

No two people will wrestle through infertility in the same way. Though everyone’s experience is different, there are some things that I’ve found in common with my experience and infertility, and that of others I’ve talked to. Here are the two common threads I’ve seen.

1. Shame
Historically, shame has been associated with guilt, and while it often can include guilt, the shame I’m speaking of is not so much the feeling/knowledge we experience when we have done something wrong and our conscience is confirming that, but more that sense of shame that comes from feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment.
Shame, in that sense, can cause a person to feel that you are somehow wrong or defective, even in instances when a person hasn’t done anything to necessitate that feeling.
This kind of shame is a lie that can keep us from being vulnerable. Yet vulnerability opens the door for healing.
To move beyond shame, I have to believe something truer. The thing is, the Bible teaches me that my value is not in my ability to have children. My value is unchanging, regardless of my earthly accomplishments or lack thereof. God loves me completely and unconditionally. Believing that truth helps me to move past feelings of shame and into vulnerable transparency that invites my community to walk alongside me and strengthen me in the difficult days.

Vulnerability opens the door for healing. Click To Tweet

2. Grief.
The pain of childlessness is a peculiar pain, described by one couple as “the grief which has no focus for its tears and no object for its love.” (Dickson 1997)
In dealing with infertility, grieving must take place. Grieving the loss of expectations. The loss of a perceived ideal timeline. The loss of a “normal” pregnancy experience. Grieving the loss of . . . fill in the blank. It is a gradual loss of what might have been. A hope deferred that makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12)
Grieving the loss of expectation is normal and healthy. It has been important for me to recognize what my expectations are, and to find comfort knowing that it is okay to be sad about that loss of what could have been. It is also a comfort to know that in the midst of grief, God is with us as our comforter: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, ESV).
God invites us to come to him with our hurts. Michael and I don’t have to fake happiness out of fear of seeming “unspiritual” for not trusting God enough. Scripture tells us there are seasons–times for weeping and for mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We don’t have to be afraid to go to God with our tears, anger, and grief. He offers arms wide open with comfort and healing.

One of the hardest moments of our journey thus far was when the doctor told us what our chances are for getting pregnant. I wanted the numbers to be different. I wished it wasn’t true. I wanted to wake up from my dream. But it wasn’t a dream. This was our reality.

Shortly after we received this difficult news, I had a friend tell me that when she is troubled, she lives out the situation to the worst-case scenario in her mind. Once she got to that worst case, she realized that even in that place, she would be okay because of her relationship with Jesus. That was powerful and freeing for me.

I’ve played forward in my mind the possible scenario: What if we never have children? Even so: I have Jesus. I don’t need Jesus+children in order to find joy. With Jesus, no matter what, my life is full. I don’t need Jesus+children in order to find joy. With Jesus, no matter what, my life is full. Click To Tweet

-LM

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
Family, Hobby Lobby, Life, Museum of the Bible, Uncategorized, Work

Latest interviews

October 29, 2016

Hey! If you would like to see my latest interviews, you can find them here!

IF:GATHERING

I sat down with Jamie Ivey while at If Gathering, and we discussed Museum of the Bible. The interview can be found here:

ifgathering

“Our hope and our mission for the museum is that we will invite ALL people to engage with the Bible.” @LaurenAMcAfee… Click To Tweet

 

SONDER PODCAST

I had a chance to discuss Hobby Lobby and religious liberty with my good friend Kirsten Haglund on her podcast Sonder. Our discussion is in Episode 4, found here:

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CALLED2BUSINESS 

When I spoke in Greenville, NC for a Called2Business luncheon, we filmed a quick segment on faith in business, and leaving a legacy. You can watch the short interview here:

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Our family has tried to be intentional about the values we hold as a business, and a family. -@laurenamcafee… Click To Tweet

-LM

Bible, Culture, Family, Millennials, Theology

Millennials and Marriage

August 31, 2016

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My little sister, Danielle, just got married. I have four younger sisters, and she is the first to join me in the married club. Danielle is one of my best friends, and I absolutely love walking with her through the different seasons of life. Now that will include walking with her in this new, exciting chapter in her life! She is 23, and she and Caleb have a cute little place to call their own. Yet the latest research shows that they are not the norm.

Why are millennials (18-34 year olds) more likely to be living with their parents than living with a spouse? A 2014 Pew Research report noted that for the first time in American history since 1880, young adults are more likely to be living with parents than living with a spouse or cohabitating with a partner. The Pew report points to a few reasons why this might be so:

  1. The postponement of marriage until later in their twenties (or total retreat from marriage).
  2. Lower employment rates among young people, and increasingly lower wages (after inflation) for young men when compared to 1970.
  3. Higher college enrollment since the Great Recession (late 2000s to early 2010s) led to more young adults living at home.

Although all of these reasons are suggested as causes for this phenomenon, the report emphasizes the delay of marriage as the leading cause, over and above the lower employment rates and higher college attendance factors.

Having lived in two U.S. cities that vary culturally – Oklahoma City and New York City – I have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to marriage age. New York is one of the oldest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 28.8 for women and 30.3 for men. The only location with an older-marrying age is Washington, DC. In contrast, Oklahoma is one of the youngest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 24.8 for women and 26.3 for men. Only Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming have a younger-marrying age.

I’ve heard a lot of people, too, that support the idea of marrying at an older age. Their logic is understandable: enjoy singleness, be independent and free while you can, “find yourself” before you settle down, focus on your career first, etc. But what about doing these things alongside a spouse? It may take longer, because there inevitably needs to be time factored into your schedule to work on the marriage – but I also think there is great power in partnering.

Our culture sees individual autonomy as the highest good. Yet while this does keep some people from having a positive view of marriage as the gift that it is, I want to acknowledge that there are also those who are led to remain single or desire to be married but haven’t found the right person yet. To those that are single, your singleness does not mean that you are “incomplete,” or waiting for “real adulthood” to begin. Singleness should be valued. God uses single people to teach others valuable lessons as well. But I want to challenge those of us in the millennial generation that may delay marriage because of the cultural notion that individual autonomy should be valued over collaboration.

I recently read an article where Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, was being interviewed. She points out that culture subliminally tells us that we have to be 100% on our own – independent and autonomous. But independence can be overrated. It is not weak to be joined up with someone – whether a spouse or even a team. We can accomplish more in a team than we can on our own. The same goes for marriage. When you are teamed up with someone, it may take a little longer to get where you want to be, but in the end you can go farther.

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I was younger than the average Oklahoman when I got married at 21 in 2009, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Marriage has taught me a lot over the years. It has shown me more of my selfishness than anything else in my life thus far, and I value those lessons. (I hear this happens all over again when you have kids– but I’m not there yet!) It has also taught me how to work with someone who has opposite strengths, and this has allowed me to grow in areas where I am weak. I also have built-in accountability, which grows my character. All of these things have been beneficial for me in other areas of life and in my work.

Mostly what I am grateful for is the way that I’ve learned more about the gospel through marriage. Marriage is not for my happiness, but for my holiness. My husband has seen my worst moments, and I have seen his. No one can cause more pain than those closest to you, and in the times where I have wronged Michael, he has showed me grace and forgiveness. And likewise, as he has wronged me, I have had the chance to practice forgiveness for him. I can have the strength to forgive because I know that I have been forgiven exponentially more through Jesus Christ’s (Colossians 2:12-13; 3:12-17; 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21).

Marriage was created by God and is for our good. Let’s not allow culture to fool us into de-valuing this gift.

 

-LM

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

More pics from the magical night can be found on my instagram @laurenamcafee!

Bible, Church, Family, Theology, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible: Part 3, Additional Reading

May 23, 2016

When I was a freshman in high school, I vividly remember reading my first book on spiritual growth. I had grown up in the church, and been exposed to Bible teachings and Bible study for as long as I can remember. I was periodically reading the Bible on my own, trying to understand how it could help my high school struggles. But when I discovered books that could help my spiritual growth by expanding on spiritual disciplines and theology, I was hooked.

I’ll be honest. The motivation for reading that first book was out of a desire to impress an older guy at my school who had recommended it. Despite the selfish motivation, it had an impact on me. The book was Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Cymbala is a pastor in Brooklyn, NY, and I actually got to enjoy lunch with his daughter Susan just last month! Meeting her and touring the Brooklyn Tabernacle (which the book is about) brought me back to those high school days when my passion for reading was set on fire.

When I read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I was stepping out of my small context in Oklahoma City, and I was brought into the stories of how people’s lives were changed through the prayers of people in the church of Brooklyn, NY. I read stories of people with deep faith, despite difficult circumstances. It inspired me to want to strengthen my faith as well.

As I began reading Christian books, I loved them so much that I actually haven’t read anything but non-fiction since I graduated high school! It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I read an article by Dr. Russell Moore encouraging the reading of some fiction, and also my husband buying me the Harry Potter books for my birthday that brought me to read my first fiction book in ten years. I must say, I am loving the Harry Potter books—I have been such a fan of the movies, I figured I may as well give the books a try. Plus, I just went to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”™ in California, so the timing was perfect.

Getting back to the point though . . . . In reading various books, I have found that authors who have studied the Bible can provide me with deeper insight of my favorite book. Through good books, I benefit from others’ study of theology and the Bible. It also allows me to see how they understand and apply it in their thinking and lives. Hearing this additional perspective provides more opportunity to relate to the text of scripture.

Through the years, I have read a number of books by a variety of authors. Some have been good, and others were . . . well, let’s just say I wish I could get the time back that I spent on them. The experiences with those books can be helpful, too, though. As I read, I want to consider all of the author’s claims, and compare to what I know of the Bible to ensure that I am not absorbing bad theology. If I am unsure about something I’ve read, I usually discuss it with someone who I know can help me think through it. For me, I usually work through these questions with my husband and get his feedback. I am grateful to have a husband who is theologically trained and knowledgeable about the Bible. Discussing my questions with him is helpful, and I enjoy learning from my husband’s feedback.

Let me share with you my five favorite books for spiritual growth:

  1. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges

This is one of my all-time favorites. Jerry Bridges takes a look at the sovereignty of God, and his faithfulness, even when life seems unjust. I read this book during a difficult time in my family, and it was an incredibly helpful reminder that despite the broken promises or broken trust that I have experienced with people, I can trust God because he is perfect in keeping his promises.

  1. Humility by C.J. Mahaney

I love this book because I constantly need to push back against my pull toward pride. I was reading an article the other day that put it like this: “When you stand in the water at the beach you feel the persistent pull of the current. Regardless of how long you stand in that water the current will, with varying intensity, pull you. To deny or minimize it will result in potential bodily harm. Such is the case with pride” (Erik Raymond). Thus, I love this book Humility, and it helps me keep my pride in check.

  1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I read this book recently and found it a bit more practical than some of the others. Packer shares deep theological knowledge, but also conveys the realities of trying to live out the Christian faith in the day-to-day world. Knowing God is a classic. It was voted in Christianity Today as one of the top fifty books that have shaped evangelical Christians.

  1. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

In this book, Piper looks at fifty reasons found in the New Testament for why Jesus came to die. This is a look at the meaning behind the cross of Christ. It was a humbling book, as well as a reminder of many truths that often get overlooked. Each chapter is one page, so it is easy to read a chapter a day or use as a devotional.

  1. Radical by David Platt

This book helped shape and challenge me when it comes to my struggle with materialism. Radical is more than a book on materialism, though. The book is about following Christ, no matter what. There is a lot of discussion about material things that sidetrack us from being “all in” for God, but the book as a whole points to the life transformation that happens in every area of life because of the gospel.

These are just some of my favorites from what I have read, but there are so many more that I am sure I haven’t gotten to yet! For a few more suggestions, check out my friend Matt Brown’s list for what he thinks are the 5 best books on spiritual growth.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear what your favorite spiritual growth books have been!

-LM

Bible, Family, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible – Part One: Daily Reading

February 15, 2016

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Growing up being homeschooled, my Dad taught my math lesson every morning before he left for work. And every morning as I walked into my Dad’s study, half-asleep, to start my math lesson, he was already there reading his Bible. Seeing my Dad prioritize this book, even amidst his busy schedule – president of a large privately-owned company and a homeschooling father of four (at the time) – made a lasting impression on me.

The Bible is important to me, but it’s not just me. Did you know that three of every five people that read this post will wish they read the Bible more? Based on a 2015 Barna Group study, 88% of American households own at least one Bible, and 60% of Americans want to read the Bible more. Even though most of us own a Bible, it can be hard to spend time reading it and to actually engage with it.

Biblical Illiteracy: My friend Jeremiah Johnston just posted an article on Fox News using the same Barna survey exploring a crucial question:
Why are so many Christians biblically illiterate?”

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, every year. It is the most read, most published, and ironically, the most shoplifted book. It is a book that has changed the world in more ways than we realize. The Bible is worth reading!

I say all of this because it is helpful for me to remember every day the significance of the Bible. It is challenging to stay disciplined and to remember to spend time – especially during busy days – reading and engaging with this book. We live in a time where busyness can be seen as synonymous with importance. This simply isn’t true. Most successful people take the time to grow, to learn, and to read. The Bible, in my opinion, is the best book to spend time reading.

Easier said than done though, right?

I thought I might share with you six ways I interact and engage with the Bible. I will do so over a series of six posts, starting first with daily Bible reading.

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Daily Bible Reading

I am one of the 60% of Americans who want to read the Bible more. Daily Bible reading is the foundational way that I get into this book. Taking time to read a few chapters of the Bible each day is a habit that I started in high school following my Dad’s example. I often do my reading through reading plans. I love the wide array of reading plans that are readily available. There are chronological plans, canonical plans, topical plans, plans focusing on specific books of the Bible, and more. I typically choose from one of the plans that can be found through the YouVersion app because they are free and easily accessible.

Daily Bible reading is different than digging in and studying a passage, or meditating on a passage. Reading the Bible every day is a great way to start spending time with this book and getting to know it. The one year reading plans I have used can be found through YouVersion:

BibleandPhoneReading the Bible can be daunting, but I encourage you to jump in with an easy reading plan, or just pick a book of the Bible and start reading through it chapter by chapter every day. I hope this gives you a few options to check out if you are looking for a one year plan. Otherwise, there are so many other ways to go about daily Bible reading. I encourage you to start today – even if it’s only for a few minutes a day!

 

How do you approach daily Bible reading? I would love to hear from you!

I’ll be back later with Part Two on using devotionals.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

-LM

Bible, Family, Life

3 Crucial Principals to Embrace Change

January 13, 2016

A few days ago we took our Christmas tree to the trash pick-up on the curb outside our apartment. It was time. All the needles were falling onto the floor and it was beginning to smell more like swine than pine. Like that tree, 2015 has come and gone. And with the clearing out of the old there is room for the new. The incomparable Taylor Swift said, “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

I had no idea how true that quote was until last year when “change” became my thing. I am a girl who enjoys change as much as this kid enjoys the snow.

But when change comes and you cannot control it, you either embrace the new or you struggle to make the new fit into an outdated mold.

At the beginning of 2015, I worked as Collections Manager at Museum of the Bible and lived in Oklahoma City with my husband Michael. He was serving on staff at the church where we met at age seven. It was all either of us ever dreamed of having. Today, one year later, we both work at new jobs for Museum of the Bible while living in a New York City high-rise with no weekly church duties. We are surrounded by new people, a new church community, and new daily routines. Everything has changed.

Change is hard.

I know people who thrive in change. I know others who struggle with the smallest change. Change causes discomfort as we get outside of the known and beyond the routine. The beauty in the difficulty of change is that it can cause us to grow, to move forward, and to learn something new.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. – H. P. Lovecraft

Here are three things I learned in what I’ve dubbed “The Year of Change”:

  1. Change Takes Courage

Fear is inherent anytime we consider significant change. When we are fearing the fear of change, though, we can confront it with the hope of the result we are striving toward. This hope for the future can give us the courage to change today. Take fear for what it is: Our routine hoping to remain untouched.

We all know the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While a computer with dial-up internet might not be “broke” that does not mean it is operating at its highest capacity. We often settle for ordinary or what we know because it is comfortable. While change for the sake of change is not always healthy, change does give us the opportunity to grow.

  1. Our Change Affects Others

One of the hardest parts about change is the way our personal change can affect others. Personal autonomy is so widely celebrated we often forget the reality that everything we do affects other people. This includes changes that comes into our lives.

When I moved away from home, this did not just affect my ability to see my friends, they can no longer see me. Leaving my church meant my voice is no longer present in our Bible studies there. Change is difficult because it not only costs me, but it often costs the people I love. This realization should cause us to communicate well with those we love, in order to help them move through our change with us. Being sensitive and reassuring to those affected by my change will go a long way in the relationship.

For more thoughts on this point, I enjoyed this perspective by Donald Miller on how our changes or growth can affect others.

  1. Change Is Worth It

Despite all the pain it causes us and others, change is worth it. Truly, it is inevitable. Whether or not we try to change, we will change. If any of us consider ourselves leaders, then it is especially important for us to learn to embrace change not just for ourselves, but for the benefit of those we are leading.

If we are a believers in Jesus Christ, we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him. So change is good because God is working it out for our good! Even in tragic, unexpected, ugly change, God can use it for his purposes. Be encouraged. Change is worth it!

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. -Winston Churchill

With all of this change, I have found comfort in two things that I know will never change: the Bible, and the God of the Bible. As J.I. Packer said in his book Knowing God: (p. 78)

“The words of human beings are unstable. But not so the words of God. They stand forever, as abidingly valid expressions of his mind and thought… Isaiah writes, ‘All flesh is grass… The grass withers… But the word of our God will stand forever’. (Isaiah 40:6-8 RSV)”

I would love to hear from you. How do you handle change? What material have you found helpful?

 

-LM

 

Additional reading:

For 7 helpful tips on how to handle major life change, I enjoyed this article from the Huffington Post.

To read about how to help manage change as a business leader, I thought this article by Forbes was a good starting point.