Embracing Brave

It certainly doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does, it’s a glorious thing — the meeting over tea that has all the marks of the C.S. Lewis definition of friendship:

““Friendship … is born at the moment when one [wo]man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

Open the cover of Brave Faith by Mary Geisen and begin to ponder with an understanding friend what it means to move toward the courage that leaves “fear, uncertainty, and other stumbling blocks behind.”  Read Mary’s personal narrative, and find yourself also yearning to be on the way to a soul-enriching journey down the road and away from your comfort zone.

Dipping her brush into the Scriptural accounts of the lives of brave saints, Mary also consults with well-known authors who have offered their wisdom on the brave life including Holly Barrett, Preston Yancey, Annie Downs, Emily Freeman, Jennie Allen, and Ann Voskamp.

Living brave may mean correcting our misunderstandings of what qualifies as brave.  In her own journey, Mary found herself staying put when that was not her plan at all.  Caring for her father in the final days of his life, Mary put her dreams on hold and found a contentment that was every bit as inexplicable as the wild courage that enabled her to tackle a mid-life missions trip to Nicaragua.

The brave give thanks by faith, and Mary challenges her readers to stop in their tracks and to give thanks for the gift of their present circumstances — whatever they may be.

Brave living is seasoned liberally with an abundance of well-placed yeses — and circumspect noes — and a clear-eyed awareness that much of life is not ours to control.  Living life’s messy stories with grace and strength requires a God-given courage and a living faith that trusts when God says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you . . .” (Jeremiah 29:11).

With daily Scripture reading and an offering of questions that invite the reader to ponder and to journal in reply, Brave Faith opens a soul-lifting conversation and then leaves space for the Holy Spirit to work as the reader steps out in courage — and in surprise, for the journey toward brave is a life-long process with a new vision and a fresh opportunity to experience the wonder around every corner.

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This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Rekindling Relationship

Forgetful, we fall away.

We center our faith around the responsibilities that we fulfill or the well-worn habits that frame the seasons, when Christianity, at its core, is not a job description, but, rather, a relationship.  Love for God is foundational to all defining realities of the true believer, and if it has ceased to be, John MacArthur says that it’s time to Remember and Return to that love.

While a devotional book should never supplant the place of time in the Scriptures, this collection of thirty-one reflections begins each day with a Bible passage and then goes on to clarify the teaching with a focus on the deepening of a God-ward relationship.

Deep theological truth can be startling when it is presented as a warning, as it is to the church at Ephesus who, after a great beginning under the ministry of Paul the Apostle, had slid away from a rich, loving relationship with God by the time the Revelation was penned.  Even in the midst of the Christmas season, when we are treated to a steady stream of reminders of the lengths to which God would go to make a connection with humanity, it’s easy to lose sight of the love of God and our love for Him.  When we become “cold, orthodox, and mechanical” in our faith practices, apathy moves in and relationship wanes.

However, when viewed through the lens of God’s love, the process of sanctification becomes the mark of a love relationship, a desire to become like the Beloved.

The rescue of redemption is revealed as a loving sacrifice, made for the sake of reconciliation with a cherished people.

Dipping into a rich reservoir of quotations collected over a lifetime of study, MacArthur shares wisdom from a wide range of thinkers including  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, C.S. Lewis, Benjamin Warfield, and F.B. Meyer.

John Owen’s observation gives me all the motivation I need for pondering the love of God at this point in history:

“If our future blessedness shall consist in living where He is, and beholding of His glory, what better preparation can there be for it than a constant previous contemplation of that glory as revealed in the gospel, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory?”

May our love for God continue to increase — for our joy and for His glory.

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This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.

captureCounting down the days until the beginning of the book discussion group on C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. Watch for a reading schedule on January 5!

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.