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Why Tim Keller’s Latest Book Shows Up During My Quiet Time

One particular gift from my Christmas list, The Songs of Jesus..A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, by Timothy and Kathy Keller, has become a meaningful accompaniment during my quiet times.

Off and
on over the years, I’ve read a psalm a day along with a chapter in
Proverbs, matching that day’s date to the corresponding chapter. Its
lyrical prose reads like a songbook — one that is active and alive —
resonating with the soul and all that matters most.

So why would I recommend this particular book? Let me count the ways. Three, to be exact.

  • It’s biblically sound. Enough said. 🙂
  • It’s versatile. Three options are offered on ways to approach the book. One way is to read it straight through, as is. Each small page shares Scripture verses, which are written out, a brief summary, and a prayer. Secondly, you could also look up and study the embedded scripture found in the summary and/or prayer section. And lastly, show up with a blank journal and read the psalm portion twice slowly, asking three questions as you go: {Adore} What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him? {Admit} What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent? {Aspire} What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, and act on?
  • It’s foundational for new devotees and rich with depth for longtime learners. Tim’s inviting style welcomes the newest of Christ-followers while also challenging those who’ve dusted off their sandals more than once on this journey.

 

The
book of Psalms can revolutionize our devotional life, our family
patterns, and the fellowship and witness of the church of Jesus
Christ. -Willem VanGemeren 

So there it is — three reasons why I would recommend this devotion to not only those who consider themselves to be Christ-followers but also to those who are still searching.

“The
more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as
our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer – See more at:
http://www.leadershipresources.org/blog/quotes-about-the-book-of-psalms/#sthash.YLMpcRvS.dpuf

How about you? Do you have a devotion book that you would recommend? 

{Coming up next Monday, you’ll not want to miss our interview with Dee Dee Parker, as she shares a glimpse of what her quiet time with the Lord looks like and how a forsythia bush often finds its way into that sacred time.}

The Scent of A Vulnerable Whisper

by Cathy Baker

Upstairs I gaze out the window overlooking the city street, onto the sprawling tree just beyond the concrete boundaries. Her elegant arms stretched wide like a ballerina in the finest Grande pose. 

Its bare limbs, trunk, all things, exposed.  

Vulnerability rarely comes easy. I’m an only child, and for me, it’s always felt more natural to hold things closer to my heart than to my lips. 

Only in recent years have I begun to understand how vulnerability plays such a vital role if my life is to put the gospel on display.

It’s one thing to be transparent, which merely means being upfront and honest. To be vulnerable, one must be willing to lay open the most tender places within, leaving them exposed for the possibility of emotional bruising. After all, the word vulnerable means able to be wounded. 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Werner

But if I am to reflect the life and love of Christ, how could I not make myself more vulnerable, for Christ is the perfect example?

As Easter approaches, one need only look to the verbiage found in Luke 9:22 to see the vulnerability of Christ: suffer, rejected, and killed. 

He did not hide His heart…nor His love—even to those He knew would nail Him to a cross.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

It’s when I gaze out the window that I hear His whisper:

Vulnerability exposes the deepest, most tender places of the heart. It’s costly, I know. But worth every bruising.

Perhaps it’s for this reason I often make my way up the stairs on these winter-turning-to-spring days. Soon, this exquisite display of His whisper will be cloaked in color, no longer visible. 

In life, vulnerabilities can be hidden beneath many “cloaks of color” — isolation, anger, pills, alcohol, broken smiles, and humor, among thousands of others. But…

he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our
iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his
wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I will miss the bare branches—but even on the hottest of summer days—His whisper will linger, and I will respond with a whisper of my own: Thank You, Lord.

How has your journey dealing with vulnerability changed since becoming a Christ follower? I’d love for you to take a moment to share. We never know who will be encouraged as a result of our own vulnerability here. Blessings!

 

NEW Series! The Fragrance of All Things New

by Cathy Baker

Welcome to the January series All Things New!

Each Tuesday and Thursday, you’ll find a pithy post highlighting something new. 

After all, January is the quintessential month for fresh starts and new beginnings. A turn of the calendar, freshly fallen snow, new habits stomping out old ones. 

Because I’m a creature of habit (how about you?) I often find myself eating at the same restaurants, pouring the same creamer, driving the same routes, and following the same routines—but I’m ready to shake things up a bit. How about you? 

Let’s face it. Trying new things is always more fun when others join in so I hope you’ll make plans to come along on this January journey with me. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Creative inspiration: Lori Roeleveld and Lynn Blackburn

5 Ways to Pray As You Pass By

Our “Secret Place”
We were in our newly created Secret Place, a cave-like
bubble surrounded by ancient shrubbery and dense muscadine bushes. It’s one of
Piper’s favorite outdoor hangouts because it’s quiet and no one can see us.
While dusting our dirt floor, the firetrucks pulled out of their station and turned their sirens on full blast. Wide-eyed Piper asked, “Did you hear that?” I shared with her how I pray when the sirens blare because someone needs help. She smiled and said,
“Okay!”

Living across from a fire department has its drawbacks but it does offer a unique opportunity for prayer. After our exchange in the Secret Place, I realized there are other opportunities for prayer that I pass every single day, such as:
  • Churches: For the gospel alone to be proclaimed, as well as wisdom and discernment for their leaders.
  • Grocery store: For those who are hungry, asking God to keep my spiritual eyes open to the needs around me.
  • Schools: For protection — physically, emotionally (bullies), and spiritually. 
  • A waving flag: For President Obama and other leaders of our country. 
  • Neighborhood: For a different home each day, praying for the families (whether I know them or not) to be grounded in much love, unity, and grace.

There’s no sweeter aroma than that of intercessory prayer ascending to the Father. It turns ordinary moments into extraordinary opportunities for the kingdom of God.

Can you think of other practical ways to pray for our communities? Please share them in the comment box!

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men. 1 Timothy 2:1
First
of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and
thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, – See more at:
http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Intercessory-Prayer#sthash.eo3jRCeu.dpuf
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