April 19, 2021

Identity Theft - Reclaiming the Truth of Who We are in Christ


This book was so encouraging, as it reminded me of who I am in Christ. There are 10 chapters, each an essay on the truth of who we are as Christ followers. Each chapter is written by a different female author, which was really nice.    

Here are the chapter headings and authors:

1.   Free: Rescued by Grace - Jen Wilkin
2.   Reflection: Made in God's Image - Hannah Anderson
3.   Child: Beloved by the Father - Courtney Doctor
4.   Saint: Redeemed by the Son - Melissa Kruger
5.   Fruitful: Filled with the Holy Spirit - Jasmine Holmes
6.   Member: Connected to the Church - Megan Hill
7.   Beautiful: Clothed in Splendor - Trillia Newbell
8.   Servant: Reaping a Reward - Betsy Childs Howard
9.   Worshiper: Shining Brightly in the Darkness -Lindsey Carlson
10. Citizen: Longing for Home - Jen Pollock Michel

I thought I'd share a quote from each chapter that stood out for me.


From chapter 1 - Free: Rescued by Grace:

"...I wonder if for many of us, our problem was not with salvation itself, but with our understanding of how salvation brings freedom. Not until my early 20's did I gain any clarity on this issue. I knew I served a God who was and is and is to come, but I had yet to learn that I possessed from Him a salvation of which the same could be said.

Salvation from sin can be broken down into three categories: justification, sanctification, and glorification. For the believer, our justification was, our sanctification is, and our glorification is to come. We were saved, we are being saved, we will be saved."


From chapter 2 - Reflection: Made in God's Image:

"You may find as you begin to center you identity more fully on God that little about your life changes - at least externally. Most likely, you will still use certain categories to explain how you spend your days. You will work your job, love your family, and serve others. But while life around you may not change, centering your identity on God will make you a different person in it."


From chapter 3 - Child: Beloved by the Father:

"Is everyone a child of God? The answer is, no, not in the sense we're talking about. Every person is a creation of God, and He, as the Creator, certainly plays a fatherly role in many ways. But what we are talking about here is a special relationship that the New Testament uses two different terms to convey: new birth and adoption. They are two ways of looking at one reality - we have to become children of God.

 John tells us, 'But to all who did receive Him (Jesus), who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:12-13). Adopted and born again. Children of God. If you've believed in Jesus through the work of the Spirit, then you can rest confidently in the truth of your identity - beloved child of the Almighty God."


From chapter 4 - Saint: Redeemed by the Son:

"...how we think about ourselves greatly affects how we live as we wait for Jesus to return.  

Living as a saint who struggles with sin is profoundly different from living as a sinner who's desperately trying to be a saint."

"We're saints not because of anything we've done, but because of who Jesus is." 


From chapter 5 - Fruitful: Filled with the Holy Spirit:

"Are you abiding in Christ, or are you abiding in the security of the work of your hands? Are you abiding in Christ, or are you walking in shame at the lack of the work of your hands? Neither will do. And neither is what we are called to. 

Our identity is found is abiding in Christ. If we're fruitful, it's because He has given us increase, and we praise Him for that. If we're floundering, we rest in the fact that our true worth comes from His work on our behalf, and we praise Him for that.

In either season, we press toward the mark, resting and working for His glory alone. That is where our identity lies."

From chapter 6 - Member: Connected to the Church:

"The church is not a human invention - a group of people who thought it would be a good idea to get together since they share the same beliefs and spiritual practices. The church is established by Christ, and exists for the glory of Christ."

"The church is fundamental to the identity of everyone who belongs to Christ."

From chapter 7 - Beautiful: Clothed in Splendor:

"Psalm 100:3 'Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.'

We are His! We are God's creation (Eph.2:10). Each intricately designed cell, every single strand of hair - everything - was designed by God (Matt. 10:30), made for His glory (Isa. 43:7), and therefore intrinsically beautiful. But far more beautiful in His sight is the person we are becoming as we pursue holiness and follow Jesus in this world."

"The only beautiful thing that will ever truly satisfy isn't a 'thing' at all. It's a person - Jesus."

From chapter 8 - Servant: Reaping a Reward:

"Imagine you're a first-century indentured servant. Day after day, you wash your mistress's clothes in the river. You dry them in the sun to bleach the natural fibers. You hope she will notice the care you take to please her, but she never notices. In fact, she takes out her bad moods on you by mocking you and speaking harshly.

In this situation, you're faced with a choice. You could stop trying so hard since you're never going to be appreciated. Or you could choose to do your best because you know the Lord of all the earth will see your efforts and be pleased by them."

From chapter 9 - Worshiper: Shining Brightly in the Darkness:

"Through His Word, His Son, and His Spirit, we've been afforded a front row seat to view endless examples of His kindness and mercy, so that in response, we might praise Him."


From chapter 10 - Citizen: Longing for Home:

The author of this chapter shares this quote from C.S. Lewis:

"Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy (my desire), but only to arose it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, those earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy or echo or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country...I must make it the main object of life to press on to the other country and to help others do the same."

I hope these quotes piqued your interest in this book! It also contains questions for group discussion at the end of each chapter. It was very good and I highly recommend it.

February 1, 2021

At Home in Mitford

This was such a great novel! I found it moved so naturally through the lives of the characters who lived in this fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina.

The rector, Father Tim (60) is the central character of this book and pastors a local Episcopal church. I loved his humility and how flawed he knew he was, how he continually shared Scripture with himself and others and how he looked to God for guidance. It felt so encouraging, rather than preachy.

The way Scripture should be applied in each of our lives and the lives of others.

At one point Father Tim takes in a young boy in need. The boy is very rambunctious and can sometimes be a strain on him, but he continues to care for him unconditionally. I loved this prayer Father Tim prayed over him:


Thank-you for sending this boy into my life, thank-you for the joy and the sorrow he brings. Be with him always to surround him with right influences when tests of any kind must come. Give him wisdom and strength to act according to your will."

As a mother this really struck a cord. It's a prayer, even as a mother of adults, I'm reminded to pray. 'Lord let Your will be done.' ...not mine.

There was also the beginning of a sweet romance. Awkward and funny, sweet and precious. I loved it!

I found all the characters in this novel, to be enduring and fun to read about. I'm looking forward to reading more about them in the rest of this series. (This is book one of fourteen!)

I highly recommend this one!


Buy it HERE on Amazon 

January 18, 2021

You're Not Enough (and that's ok)

When I was Allie Beth's age, almost 25 years ago, Oprah was in her heyday and I sadly watched. At this time, Oprah was encouraging women to put themselves first, and if they didn't, she informed, they would be useless to help anyone else. I knew this was wrong thinking, but no one was correcting her. Of course this isn't anything new. The enemy has been trying to convince women since the beginning, to question God and look to self.

In the introduction Allie Beth says here:

"If self-love isn't a new phenomenon, if we've been taught for decades that our lives will be made better just by loving ourselves more and feeling confident, why hasn't it caught on? Why aren't we all happier?

In fact, it seems we're less happy than ever before. Americans under forty are more depressed, anxious, lonely, and suicidal than any generation before us. We report stronger feelings of purposelessness than any other generation too. We are isolated and unsure of what we want to do with our lives. Many of us feel empty."

This book sets out to stand up against this way of thinking, but most importantly this book stands up for what God says in His word about this and about us. We aren't enough, and that's ok.

If we were enough than we wouldn't need a Savior.

Also from the introduction:

"The answer to the purposelessness and hollowness we feel is found not in us, but outside of us. The solutions to our problems and pain aren't found in self-love, but in God's love.

The God who created us, who created the universe, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, is the one who provides us with the purpose and satisfaction we're seeking. While self-love depletes, God's love for us doesn't. He showed us his love by sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could be forgiven and live forever with him. Self-love is superficial and temporary, God's love is profound and eternal."

This book has five chapters which talk about these 5 myths:

Myth #1 - You Are Enough

Myth #2 - You Determine Your Truth

Myth #3 - You're Perfect the Way You Are

Myth #4 - You're Entitled to Your Dreams

Myth #5 - You Can't Love Others Until You Love Yourself


I thought I'd share a few bits and pieces from each chapter.


Myth #1 - You Are Enough

Allie Beth says here:

"The first step to getting out of whatever unhealthy cycle you're currently in is realizing just how not enough you are. That means letting go of the responsibility to be your own source of fulfillment - a responsibility that was never yours in the first place."

As Christians we know that we couldn't have come to Christ without seeing our sinfulness first. Repentance comes from a heart that knows its own sinfulness and repentance always leads to joy. It's never been our responsibility to make ourselves happy or enough, It's always been God who can solely do this.

She continues here:

"There's a reason Jesus describes himself as Living Water and Bread of Life: He satisfies. The searching for peace and for purpose stops in Him alone. He created us; therefore only He can tell us who we are and why we're here."

"And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."  John 6:35


Myth #2 - You Determine Your Truth

This chapter talks about the false way the world looks at truth.

Allie Beth says here:

"While it's true that we have experiences and trauma that shape us, these things don't equate to moral truths. They just happened. And maybe they were significant, and maybe they taught us something. But in order to know whether these lessons we learned are truths worth building our lives on, we have to compare them to the standard of truth, God's Word."

This chapter talks a little bit about the false teachings of prosperity and how it teaches us to love self first.

She continues here:

"The prosperity gospel and Hipster Jesus Christianity are self-worship disguised as genuine faith. They focus on what we think we deserve rather than who God is. They obscure the true Gospel in exchange for a message that appeals to our natural self-centeredness. As John Piper says of the prosperity gospel, they are doctrines that... 'clothe the eternal gospel of Christ in the garments of worldiness.'"

Allie says here of true church:

"The hours we spend in church should be defined by self-forgetfulness, not self-fulfillment."


"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."  Ephesians 4:17-24


Myth #3 - You're Perfect The Way You Are

In this chapter she brings up the Enneagram, a type of personality test that has distracted thousands from the true living God and encouraged them to turn their focus onto self. The man who designed it and its number system says he received it from automatic writing, an occultic practice. (I have left a link at the bottom of this post to a video on the Enneagram with Doreen Virtue, who Allie Beth has interviewed in the past

This was very interesting and disturbing to read about. Her point in sharing about the Enneagram was to show how its basic premise is to find the perfection within yourself and how misleading that is. 

She says here:

"The world of self-love tells us that knowing ourselves is essential happiness. We're told that our inner perfection, once found and unleashed, will empower us to succeed and have peace. God tells us something different: that knowing Him gives us the peace we're looking for and that His love gives us the confidence we're looking for.

Once we realize just how not perfect we are, and how little self-discovery contributes to our fulfillment, we begin to see just how unreliable we are as masters of our own fate and rulers of our lives.

This means that rather than follow our hearts, as we're so often encouraged to do, we should question them."

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?"  Jeremiah 17:9 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. 

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil." Proverbs 3:5-7


Myth #4 - You're Entitled To Your Dreams

This quote pretty much sums up this chapter:

"God made us for Him, not the other way around. He exists as a king to be worshiped, not a genie who grants us our dreams and wishes. When we follow Him, He promises us not to give us everything we want but something far better - Himself." 

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.' " Matthew 16:24


Myth #5 - You Can't Love Others Until You Love Yourself

Allie Beth says here:

"Our minds have so intertwined self-affirmation and success that we're afraid that if we stop telling ourselves how great we are, our lives will take a nosedive into misery. We'll start to wallow in self-pity, our relationships will grow toxic and codependent, and we'll fail at work because we'll be crippled by our own self-doubt.

But that fear ignores the reality that as Christians, our options aren't boiled down to high self-esteem versus low self-esteem, or self-love versus self-hatred. We choose neither. Instead, we operate out of total self-forgetfulness."

She than quotes Tim Keller from his book The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness (which I highly recommend! I'll leave a link to my thoughts on that book at the end of this post)

Tim Keller says here: "the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less."

Allie Beth goes on to say: 

"Believing the lie that we have to love ourselves before we love other people will cause us to miss out on the most joyful experiences of our lives. And even more important, there are people whose needs won't be met because we're too busy meeting our own needs to pay attention to theirs." 

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."  Philippians 2:3-4

This was such a great book! I highly recommend it to those who may be confused by all the self-love philosophies in the world and unfortunately have seeped into the church. Also to those who would think this book would help someone they know caught up in the self-love phenomenon. 

I'll leave you with this quote from John Piper I recently found in his book 'What Jesus Demands from the World'...

"Look away from yourself. Seek from God what He alone can do for you. Moral improvement of the old you is not what you need. New life is what the whole world needs. It is radical and supernatural. It is outside our control. The dead do not give themselves new life. We must be born again - 'not...of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.' John 1:13 That's what Jesus demands of the world."

*Note - Link to my post on Tim Keller's book... The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

*Note - Video link... Talking About the Enneagram: Is it Dangerous? Things Christians Should Know


Buy it HERE on Amazon 



January 11, 2021

Reading Goals for 2021


A new year is always exciting for a reader. We re-evaluate all we want to read and make lists of the books we'd like to add to our TBR's.

This coming year I have a few reading goals I'd like to accomplish.

Firstly I'm setting my annual goodreads goal to reading 50 books once again this year. 

I've also started a book Instagram, you can check it out here... Cathy@Thoughts on Books

I'd love for you to come by and follow and talk books!

Secondly, I'd really like to get to some of the books on my shelves that I've had for years, books like Francis Schaeffer's trilogy.


Thirdly, I would like to read a few more classics than I did this past year,

These are the 6 classics I read in 2020:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens 

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Evelina by Frances Burney

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy 


Les Miserables and Evelina were my favorites. : )

This past December, I so enjoyed Paul David Tripp's advent devotional, so I've decided to pick up his yearly devotional called 'New Morning Mercies.' So far I'm really enjoying it!

I would also like to continue with my Bible reading. I read my Bible one book at a time, usually reading a chapter in a sitting. Then studying what stood out to me. Such as looking up a word I didn't understand or looking up a passage in a commentary. (I use Matthew Henry's commentary) I also like to go back and forth from the New to Old Testament books. Right now I'm reading the book of Joshua and finding it really interesting.

Here's some encouraging and sobering words from Joshua 24:14-15

“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”


One more goal of mine for 2021 is the try to memorize more Scripture. I believe it's important to hide it in our hearts, especially in the days we are living in.

"Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11

This is the first verse I've memorized this year:

"...faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes from the word of God." Romans 10:17 

I think this verse is fitting for a year of memorization! 


God bless and I hope you all have a year filled with the peace and joy of the LORD.


January 4, 2021

5 books on my future reading list

 Gentle and Lowly

Something I need to do more of, is to rest in Jesus. I always love it when I find a book that teaches this.

Goodreads say here:

"This book draws us to Matthew 11, where Jesus describes himself as "gentle and lowly in heart," longing for his people to find rest in him. The gospel is primarily about God's heart drawn to his people, a heart of tender love for the sinful and suffering. 

These chapters take readers into the depths of Christ's very heart for sinners, diving deep into Bible passages that speak of who Christ is and encouraging readers with the affections of Christ for his people. His longing heart for sinners will comfort and sustain readers in their up-and-down lives."


The Other Bennet Sister

I love Jane Austen and have read my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice many times. This is a re-telling with Mary Bennet's story at the forefront. I've read the first few pages and found the writing beautiful. I'm looking forward to getting to this one soon!

Amazon says here:

"What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice

What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? 

This is the plot of Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Jane Austen fans."

Another Gospel?

I'm really excited to read this one. I've been listening to Alisha on her podcast and have been encouraged by her stand for the Lord and His Word.

Melissa Kruger says here of this book:

"Is it possible to reconstruct faith after deconstruction? Using her own season of spiritual doubt as a backdrop, Alisa Childers explores the validity of Christianity―as well as the inefficacy of progressive Christianity―with precision, insight, and intellectual integrity.  

Another Gospel? is a needed and welcome book that reveals the ways historic Christianity can stand up to our doubts, concerns, and questions."

And Randy Alcorn say of it here:

"Deconstructed faith stories are the new normal. We all know people who once seemed to be solid Christians but have walked away. Alisa’s story of her own reconstructed faith is a breath of fresh air. 

She shares her doubts and struggles and the journey God led her on to rediscover the solid Rock on which she stands. This excellent book is full of hope and sound reasons for faith in Jesus and God’s Word."

At Home in Mitford

This is a first book in a series of books that sounds delightful. I've just started it and really enjoying it so far.

Amazon say here:

"It's easy to feel at home in Mitford. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are generally lovable. Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won't go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. 

Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that's sixty years old. Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich comedy about ordinary people and their ordinary lives."


New Morning Mercies

I recently read Paul David Tripp's Advent devotional and loved it. So I'm excited to read through this one this coming year.

Goodreads says here:

"Mornings can be tough. Sometimes, a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee just aren't enough. Offering more than a rush of caffeine, best-selling author Paul David Tripp wants to energize you with the most potent encouragement imaginable: the gospel.

Forget "behavior modification" or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we'll be prepared to trust in God's goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day."