A Life of Lovely
It is hard for anyone to find the lovely in the ugliness that can sometimes surround us. The author, Annie Downs, does a wonderful job of helping young, and older, women navigate the sometimes disappointing journey of life with humor and perseverance.
The author takes the reader through all aspects of modern life using humor and scripture to help ease the reader into finding the “lovely” where it does not appear to exist.
I like the upbeat style and humor that makes the book an enjoyable read; I give it 4 out of 5 stars and found her words a fun way to look forward to finding my “lovely.”
Purchase this book at this link: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/a-life-of-lovely-P005802325
This review is longer than usual because this book deserves your attention.
Trevin Wax is a well-known evangelical millennial and after reading this book, I can see why. He manages to take modern day situations and show how they relate to God’s word.
Starting with the introduction, Trevin engrosses the mind and engages the thought process by telling us that our neighbor is not where the battle is, but rather the battle is with the lies that are told by the powers and principalities that engage us daily through the media. There are 8 chapters in the book. The first 4 deal with the habits that impact us on a day to day basis. The last 4 are based on the larger myths that animate our society. Every single chapter holds a wealth of information that opened my eyes to things that I have been doing and not even been aware that I was doing them. I enjoyed this book so much that I am going to give a chapter by chapter review.
Chapter 1 deals with how our cell phones, internet practices, and even our friends can lead us to have a formed opinion instead of an informed opinion of ourselves, by narrowing our information intake to model our “Christian beliefs.” This constant affirmation of our views leads us to the myth that our “beliefs” are always right.
Chapter 2 is about our interaction with movies, TV shows, etc. As most of us realize, a lot of the things we watch are fictional but the constant immersion into this alternate reality can pervert our true reality. Often, these movies and shows tell us the lie that our fulfillment is found not in God but in emotional and material things.
Chapter 3 – This chapter addresses how we use society’s goals to map out our future. Often, doing that leads us on a faulty path away from God. God’s word leads us on a true path with a glorious ending.
Chapter 4 – Our all-time favorite myth of all, shopping and material things can make us happy. We have turned our year into one shopping event after another. Instead of being thankful for what we have in November, we are planning to buy more on Black Friday so we can be happier. Ads that target our longing to be accepted through the labels we wear, the car we drive or the newest electronic gadget have turned shopping into a substitute “Religious” experience.
In these first four chapters, there were several quotes that stood out.
“The primary myth the smartphone tells you every day is that you are the center of the universe.”
“Desensitization is not a sign of spiritual progress but of sensual dullness. Do not confuse the ability to be unfazed by depictions of sin with spiritual maturity.”
“True courage is not deciding for yourself what is “right and wrong” but seeking to discover what truly is right and wrong – for yourself and everybody else.”
“The lie is not that you wouldn’t be okay without it. The lie is that you’re going to be happier with it.“
“The American Dream is about shopping for happiness. The Kingdom Dream is about experiencing joy in God.”
Now onto the last four chapters.
Chapter 5 – Here the Author reminds us that we are not “at home” on this Earth. We forget that this is not where we will spend our eternity but it is only where we spend a short tie in the span of our lives. We, as Christians, have become too much “of the world” and have failed to remember to just be “in the world.” This chapter also delves into the trap of politics, where sometimes politics become so central to us it becomes our alternate religion.
In Chapter 6 Trevin deals with the thought that we look at marriage as the pinnacle of our relationships, instead of making it the foundation of our lives. He does a great job of delving into common fallacies that pervade our societal beliefs and shows how each and every one of them steers us wrong and why.
Chapter 7 – Another common myth – Sexual freedom is a sign of a mature society and a sign of our freedom. We have gone from a society and culture where sexual restraint was a sign of maturity into believing that sexual relations are a sign of maturity.
Chapter 8 This chapter is titled “As the World Wobbles” I admit I was confused as to what the content of this chapter would entail. After reading the chapter, the title fits perfectly. We, as a society, go back and forth with “the world is ending” to “the world is better now than ever.” Read this chapter for more information on this.
The final four chapters of the book sum up the worldly myths we encounter daily. Below are my favorite quotes from these chapters.
“So, if you want to put down roots somewhere, put them in the soil of a church. After all, the gates of hell are shaking not because of an election but because of Easter.”
“All marriages are broken, but what makes a marriage is they are broken together.“
“Staking your identity in sexuality or pinning your hopes for happiness on sex is too low of a goal for a human being made in God’s image.”
“We can’t be faithful in our own time if we’re always longing for another.”
As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it would make a great small group study.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Read it, Study it, Learn from it. I sure did.
Purchase the book at the link below – You will not be disappointed
Don’t we often behave as if God doesn’t know what we’re doing, hear what we’re saying, know what we’re thinking? We go right along in our lives sinning away thinking that God isn’t paying attention. We think we’re going to get away with something with God because the guy who lives next door or the spouse who sleeps next to you doesn’t know about it. Yet the psalmist here tells us that God has searched us and known us—and that means in every single moment of our lives, from conception to death.
God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. And that means we who are His chosen people must examine ourselves and repent of our sins before Him. Christ has paid the price for our sins, He has borne our punishment, He has done all that is necessary for our salvation, but I’m not talking about salvation, I’m talking about being in a right relationship with God during this life. Sin separates us from God even when we are saved. It puts a barrier up between Him and us that keeps us from fully enjoying the grace He shows to us. Repentance is about restoring a proper relationship with God after we have come to faith in Christ and believed in His atoning work.
I suspect most of us have had difficulties with relationships in our lives. We want to have a close relationship with someone, but there is always something that stands in the way. Quite often that something has to do with a refusal to address differences and what seems an inability on someone’s part to repent of that feeling. Central to all sin is the ego of man. We want to be first and best, or at least we want people to think we are first and best. It’s hard to go to someone and admit that you’re a failure or that you’ve not been the person that you should have been. That failure builds walls that separate and isolate us.
Surprisingly, we often have exactly the same problem in our relationship with God as we do in our relationships with other people. We don’t like admitting we are what we are—failures. Certainly we make a confession in all of our worship services, but even then we can hold back a bit, we can’t not bring all of our sins to mind, we can even hope God will be completely satisfied by that once a week statement. But that isn’t really true. God wants you to be honest with yourself about what you have done and to truly repent of that so that you can experience true freedom in your life.
I know that I’m guilty of living in my own world. Something is going on in my life and I pull all the sensors in, so to speak. I don’t look out into the world and see the pain and suffering that is out there. If I don’t see it, I can’t do anything about it. Not even pray. I’m centered on MY pain and suffering.
When this song came out in 2010 I was starting to look out of my own little world. Starting to pray for others and ask how they were doing. Asking about that medical problem that’s worrying the family. Their problems that I knew about. I would start a prayer list and I would pray for them. It’s too easy to say that you’ll keep them in prayer and then forget.
One thing that needs remedied in my own little world is shown in this video. I don’t DO something. Sometimes the only thing that you can do is pray but many times you can actually do something.
Listen to this song by Matthew West. It reminds us that there is a larger world out there.
Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.
Yesterday I posted the song “Do Something” by Matthew West. Not all of us are able to drop everything and run to another country to help spread the Gospel. We are where the Lord has planted us and I’m sure if he wanted us to run off to another place to spread the Gospel He’d let us know.
Everyday we should go about our lives, being the hands and feet of Jesus. Much of the time we don’t have to “preach”. We just need to be. I have a story I want to share that showed me how much this is true.
One Thanksgiving week quite a few years back, I got a call from my boss. We were both off work that week for the holiday and she had never called me at home before. She told me her husband had died in his sleep that morning. She had woken up to find him in their bed, deceased. She was quite shocked and upset. I was being supportive on the phone with her and in the back of my mind I was wondering why she had called me. Then she said “Would you pray for me?” I guess I could have said that I’d keep her in my prayers (and I did), but I just said of course and started praying. I did offer to come to her but she had her sister coming and that was good. I didn’t want her to be alone.
I don’t “preach” at work. I don’t even have scripture hanging around my desk. She knew that I was active in my church and that I sometimes took off from work to go on church retreats (Via de Cristo). We may have had small conversations about faith. But I was floored that she came to me and asked me to pray for her.
So keep in mind that as you go out into your world that you are “preaching” the Gospel whether you are talking or not.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up. Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In an earlier blog, I wrote about how God did not create us to be alone. When I think back over my life, I see how it has been enriched by the love of others.
What would my life be like without my siblings, with whom I remember my childhood, and who helped to care for my mom in her old age? Or without my mother who read to me, my grandmother who cooked the best dinners ever, my grandfather who taught me I was smart enough to become whatever I wanted to be?
What would my life be like if I had not had my husband to help with all the child rearing chores, to support me and cheer me on when I wanted to go to school, try a new job, or learn a new skill? Who stuck with me through all the good and bad times of life?
What would my life be life without the many friends, who over the years, saw talents and abilities in me that I didn’t even realize I had? Who encouraged me to be a leader, to grow spiritually, and (most recently) to start this blog?
Where would I be without God in my life? To comfort, to guide, to provide, to accept me with all my quirks? To be a father whenever my earthly parents failed me?
Storge, eros, philia, agape, we need all those loves. Life is definitely better when we live it with others.