Sacred Holidays – A Review

sacred holidaySacred Holidays by Becky Kiser is not what I expected. It’s not a book – well, it is a book, but it’s not a chapter-by-chapter story. Sacred Holidays is organized into three parts with Part 1 discussing how to focus on less chaos and more Jesus. Honestly, that is what I thought the whole book was about and in a way it is, but not as specific as these first two chapters. Part 2 helps you examine each holiday from New Years, to the summer season, birthdays, and finally ending with Advent and Christmas. Part 3 is extra material on dealing with common struggles encountered during holidays. Personally, I think Part 3 should be required reading.

So why read Sacred Holidays? I would encourage you to read it because it isn’t a regular book! We all want less chaos and more Jesus, but to be honest reading about it never seems to change anything. Sacred Holidays takes the extra step of helping you walk through a process to reduce the stress and focus on Christ.

For example, let’s look at New Year’s since it’s coming up soon. First the author talks about new beginnings and change and provides multiple Scriptures on the topic. Then she asks ‘the questions’. These questions are asked for each holiday. “Why do you celebrate the new year? What are some ideas you’ve heard of that might make this holiday more meaningful, What has worked, What hasn’t worked, What do you want to try in the future?” Next comes the action statements, “What struggles do you need to prepare for?” This was my favorite part! She asks you to consider how to “not be THAT Christian” and how to deal with conflict, budgets, schedules, and grief.

By the time you get to the end of each holiday chapter you have reflected on the why and how of holiday celebration from a Christian worldview. You have been given opportunities to reflect on the way it has always been and how you might make changes for the future. If you follow the process with prayer and a heart open to change you will walk away from the next holiday with less chaos and more Jesus. I know this, because I just survived Thanksgiving the Scared Holidays way!

To purchase the book go to the LifeWay Website

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided in exchange for an independent review. Neither B&H Publishing or the author had input on the review content.

Living Fit by Ronnie Floyd

Living Fit by Ronnie Floyd“ Your choices today will determine your fitness tomorrow” is the first of many highlights by Ronnie Floyd in his new book Living Fit: Making Your Life Count by Pursuing a Healthy You published by B&H Publishing Group in 2018. The book contains five sections divided into twenty chapters. The main sections discuss how to live fit spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, and emotionally. Each chapter provides a Scriptural foundation with imbedded questions to help the reader personalize the information for life change.

Living fit spiritually focuses on living a purposeful life with intentionality. Floyd states, “The process always precedes the product” (p. 21); a theme he repeats throughout the text. If the goal is a holistic healthy life then there is a process to be followed over time. Fitness is not achieved without discipline and direction based on a foundation of spiritual maturity.

Living fit physically centers on life’s dependence on each decision made. Physical fitness is equally coupled with spiritual, relational, financial, and emotional fitness as it is on eating right and exercise. “Refuse to see your life as being compartmentalized. You are not divided and cannot live like you are” (p. 53). Floyd goes on to state we have four major problems in our lives. “We have a mind problem, a will problem, an emotional problem, and a body problem” (p. 57). Each of these areas must be addressed for whole body fitness. To do so we must see ourselves as a whole person and not focus on the parts (1 Thessalonians 5:23). To give God control of our body is part of giving Him control over our life.

Living fit relationally challenges the reader to live selflessly, lovingly, truly connected to others, as expressed through service. Much of the information on relational living is based on servant leadership as described by Greenleaf. Biblical servant leadership takes the idea of service to others and shifts to purpose to the glorification of God. By serving others with humility our relationships will be stronger. “Serving others always results in a healthy relationship” (p. 115).

Living fit financially provided five principles for financial stability. Floyd suggests, being on a budget, getting out of debt, saving money, focusing on quality relationships, and being generous will lead to financial health. “When you refuse to think about practical matters like monthly expenses, healthcare, life insurance, and retirement, you are living irresponsibly” (p. 137).

Living fit emotionally emphasizes paying attention to the warning signs our life gives us when trouble is coming. Life should be ordered and not chaotic. When your body is sending you emotional signals of worry, frustration, or pain it is important to listen and take action. “The goal is not personal perfection, but personal progress” (p. 160). Floyd says one of the best ways to live emotionally fit is to live gratefully. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in making us less anxious about the future.

In summary, the book was not what I expected, but it was exactly what I needed. Each chapter is embedded with Scripture to always bring the reader back to the place of dependence on God. What I most liked about the book was the holistic approach to health. Success in one area is not complete without a balanced discipline in all the areas. While human flesh might succeed for a while, we cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle on our own.

The introduction suggested that the reader should periodically “step back” and take account of what was read. This was excellent advice and I would encourage you to do the same. The book is a quick read, maybe a couple of hours, but to really take in the information for life change it should be read slowly letting the nuance of each section soak into our minds. This is the type of book you will read more than once. Scan it quickly the first time to get an aerial view of the information, but then slowly dive deep into each section for application and conviction. This was a great book for personal use, but I would also recommend it for group study. Each chapter contains challenge questions that are perfect for group discussions.

Disclosure: This is an unsolicited review made without input or direction from the author or publisher. A copy of the book was provided for the review.

Move Over Millennials

WM leading seriesMany of you know my recent dissertation focused on the difference in how millennial aged and women who are older view women’s ministry.  It was a great study, but the information is quickly becoming obsolete. We already need to be focusing on the youngest generation… iGen, for lack of a better term.

I’ve provided a link to a great article by Ashley Chestnut who serves as the Associate Singles 20s/30s Minister at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. In the article she says ” I encourage you to grab coffee or dinner with some recent college graduates in your church in order to get to know them and to find out what life is like for them. What is important to them? How do they spend their time? What do they consider to be important social and cultural issues? What YouTube channels do they follow? What are their go-to apps? What ideas do they have about women’s ministry? Have an open mind and hear what they have to say.”  All great questions and suggestions.

Here is the link to When iGen Enters Your Women’s Ministry

Share what you are doing to reach iGen through your women’s ministry in the comments below. How does ministry look different from what we have been doing with millennial age women? What can you suggest to help others?

A Shift in the SBC

 

There is an interesting article  about potential changes in the SBC and the ripple effect it may have on evangelical America.  I have not come to final thoughts about the shift that is occurring in Baptist life – and there is a shift happening – so I’ll reserve comment for now.  Read the article and let me know your thoughts.

  • Do you think Dr. Patterson should have been fired or was the original decision to retire him with benefits correct?
  • Is asking women to serve in higher leadership enough or do you think there will be a push for women to assume senior pastoral or more theological teaching positions?
  • Will people of color support the SBC’s traditional conservative positions or will there be a push to move to moderate politics and theology statements?
  • Will the SBC support J.D. Geear as he moves the denomination in new cultural directions or will we see a growing division within the convention?
  • Where will women’s ministry land when the dust settles?  Will the traditional role of women’s ministry continue or will it get shuffled in the effort to raise women up in leadership throughout the church?
  • What does Scripture say that may impact how we respond to these changes?

These are a few of the ideas I’m working through as I read comments, opinion pieces, and Scripture.  What questions do you have?  What is our next step?

Mile Marker

I wrote the following post in 2007. I still have my mile marker journal and it lists the many times I knew the Lord had specifically directed my steps. Enjoy this trip down memory lane with me and consider starting your own mile marker.

I keep a journal of events that mark changes in my walk with Christ. I call it my “mile marker” – so I know if I am moving forward, standing still, or going backwards.

One of the things in the journal is an October 2005 entry for when I decided to call Mike Simmons my Pastor. For me it is more than just a title – it’s a position of authority. It was significant that I trusted a man enough to call him by that name.

A later entry marks the first time I was introduced as a “religious leader” in the community. It was at CrossRoads Covenant Church in DeSoto. I was humbled to be introduced to the church along with others that minister God’s Word.

I’ve even noted my first invitation to pray for a group where I was not a member.

But, not everything is positive. I also included the time I used scripture to hurt someone I love and did it publicly. I cried for hours at the realization of what I had done. On top of that, he came to me to apologize for making me upset enough to do that! Was a powerful lesson in humility and love that I will never, ever forget.

Then there is yesterday. What made it a mile-marker? I have received several phone calls and emails from people saying how they appreciate that I stood up for Christianity and even more so for not backing down when pushed. I surprised myself when I realized I was standing on the front steps of City Hall loudly proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord! It was the first public assault on my faith and I survived the test.

These events will soon fade into my memory, but I will have this record of what happened, how the Lord met my ever need, and blessed this path He has set me on.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Connecting With Guests

Welcome-Banner-With-3d-Colorful-Men

I’ve had a persistent feeling that I needed to attend a church in my local community instead of commuting to a neighboring city. I fought this idea for over a year, but when that quiet voice keeps nudging you to do something it is best to obey. For the first time in almost 15 years I assumed the role of church guest.

Over the past few months I have attended four churches. Church A is a vibrant, growing church with a very contemporary feel and millennial led women’s program. Church B is a large established church with both traditional and contemporary services and a newly formed women’s program. Church C is an established church that has struggled for many years and has a narrowly focused women’s program. Church D is an established church, but they have been without a senior pastor for a couple of years. They have an active women’s program that I would describe as traditional.

Now, remember that I am part of the boomer generation and view the world through that lens. With that in mind, this is what I have learned:

  1. Preaching Matters. Churches A, B, and D have Scripture driven teaching every Sunday morning. The churches have different teaching styles, but I always came away with something new and applicable to my life that was directly from the Bible. It made a difference in how I viewed the church at large.
  1. Quick Connections Count: Church A was a great fit for me and I enjoyed the women’s ministry, but I had a difficult time finding a way to connect to the church. I emailed the church asking about small groups and got no reply. I also did not receive any follow-up emails or other contact following my visits. I eventually did not go back.
  1. Follow Through Is Everything: Church C did everything right. I was greeted when I was a guest and the first week I received two thank you emails, a personal visit (with homemade cookies), and a hand written note from the pastor. I asked for information on the women’s ministry and the director emailed later the second week. I was struck by the effort these wonderful people put into making me feel welcome. I was told about small groups, but my choices were married, multi-gen but mostly married or widowed, or a young singles class. There were no women’s or mature singles classes. Even though they made a great effort for connection they made no provision for a single, mature (aka older) woman. You can welcome your guest all you want, but if you have not taken the time to prepare a place for them they probably will not stick.
  1. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing: I have decided to join Church D. They are without a pastor and the women’s program is very traditional. Not exactly a resounding recommendation! However, the first week I was a guest they connected me with a women’s small group that immediately provided solid teaching, missions opportunities, and community. The women’s ministry director reached out to me and shared her heart for life transformation in the women she led. It is a church hungry to be a New Testament body of believers dedicated to the equipping and sending of their members. The many things “wrong” about the church did not matter, because they have the most important things right.

I hope to use this experience to help me when I work with women’s ministry leaders. We have all read the many reports on how to reach millennials and to develop Titus 2 ministries. However, I think it really comes down to the basics. Preach the Word, create community, and embrace the Great Commission. How do you think that would look in a women’s program? How can we take what we know about generational differences and apply it to reaching church guests? Let me hear your thoughts and ideas!