Not Unredeemed

… because He is bigger and we are made for more …


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Pulling Back the Shades {A Book Review}

Spanning from the deep edges of black to the translucent edges of white are many shades of grey. Some hues are dark and easy to discern, others nearly white and invisible. As it is with grey, so it is with our sexuality. In their newest book, “Pulling Back the Shades; Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,” Dr. Julie Slattery and Dannah Gresh address the spectrum of women’s sexual longings and why we have them.

Originally written as a rebuttal and answer to the popular series “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James, Pulling Back the Shades goes deeper and answers the question why women (Christian women too) are attracted to and reading the newly termed genre of “erotica” (romantic fantasy). Quickly becoming an emotional version of pornography, erotica’s lead seller, The Fifty Shades of Gray series has sold more than a million copies world wide. Pulling Back the Shades addresses why the series went viral, as well as why women are attracted to watching and reading romantic fantasy. The book also covers the positive and negative sides to erotica.

When I was given “Pulling Back the Shades” to review from Moody Publishers, I was excited as I respect both Gresh and Slattery’s work. When they decided to write a book together I was thrilled. Only I had never read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, so I wasn’t sure if the book would be interesting or apply to me at all.

 It did.

In deciding to write a book that would address the growing obsession for erotica, Gresh decided to not read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, while Slattery did. One of the reasons I really enjoyed the book was that both women brought two entirely different experiences and perspectives to the table. The book is written in alternating fonts as each woman shared her perspectives on the different issues they address. It’s probably one of the most balanced books that I’ve read that addresses a specific issue (Fifty Shades of Gray) and a general topic (erotica).

This book is a great resource for anyone wanting to be able to converse with fellow believers and the world on our sexuality. Erotica is a growing phenomenon within the church – witnessed by the number of Christian romance novels. Are these books wrong? Probably not in and of themselves, but why do we have the need to keep reading them? What drives our longings? Dannah and Julie take an honest, real approach to answering these questions and more.

 “The fantasy of erotica inspires one thing – the longing for more . . .You will never reach contentment reading something that is intended to make you long for more”. Pg. 36-37

Our longings were given to us for reasons, good, healthy reasons, but they won’t be satisfied in the pages of erotica, or viewed before us on a screen. Gresh and Slattery do an excellent job of addressing some of the dangers of erotica, while still conveying the excitement and joy of healthy, godly sexuality. This is not a “how to” or legalistic book that comes down on sexuality in any way. It’s balanced, thought provoking, and filled with grace. “Pulling Back the Shades” dives bravely and deeply into areas of a women’s heart that the church really needs to be talking about.

This book is for you if you:

  • Have read “Fifty Shades of Gray,
  • Are curious about cultural trends
  • Work with women and teen girls
  • Or you want to know more about your own longings.

If you have not read “Fifty Shades of Gray” like myself, or the co- author, Dannah, this book is still very applicable and challenging. We all have longings, but do we know why? Or know what to do with them? – Pick up a copy of “Pulling Back the Shades” and find out!

 

In Short Review: Dannah Gresh’s book “Get Lost – Your Guide to Finding True Love”, is a great practical, book that beautifully and tangibly looks at how to have our longings fulfilled in Christ. I would recommended it as a follow up to “Pulling Back the Shades” or “What are You Waiting For“. In short, Get Lost, is the practical application to Dannah’s other books! 


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Walled In

I heard nothing as I listened to him talk, or watched him walk around. That is - my spiritual ears heard nothing – nada. Silence to a discerning person is very eerie and unusual. It’s like the modem from your spirit to heaven stops sending and receiving data, and all connectivity ceases. I had become unplugged when around this person. Why?

Offense.

I was offended. And then I was offended to learn I was offended! Last summer the Lord took me on a very revealing growth journey with offense – what it was and how to deal with it. Although I’m a passionate person, I’m also very easy going, so I would never have thought of myself as someone who could be offended. I wasn’t bitter or angry with this person, but I was walled in around them.

Proverbs 18:19 says that:

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

I always read that verse with the idea that if I had offended someone they would be harder to win back than getting into a walled city. Offense creates walls in both the offender and the offendee. I was the one that was walled into my frustration and distrust of this person. Offense had walled me in and shut off my spiritual gifts. I saw the person who had wronged me only for what they were not, rather than for who they could be, or were in Christ.

Offense takes on many forms and looks very differently in each person, but we are all exposed to opportunities to be offended every day. In Luke 18, Jesus even tells us that offense will come! So how do we respond when they do?

John Bevere wrote a book called The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense, and in it he walks through what offense is and how to handle it in a way that free’s both people. The Lord used this book to radically change my life last year, and I want to pass that opportunity onto someone else. I’m giving away a copy of The Bait of Satan, over at Kindred Grace. Will you join me over at Kindred Grace to win a copy of the book and read a short  review? Click here. The book give-a-way ends on Thursday 3.13.14 at Midnight.

 


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Validate Him

Just because you won’t date him, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t valiDATE him, honoring him in your heart and with your speech. <—- Click to Tweet. I’d be a millionaire if I got $1 for every time I’ve heard a girl say “there are just no good guys around here”. I used to say it myself until the day I saw the destruction it caused. Defeat, anger, and pain flashed across my friend’s face, as I watched him react to the knife this woman’s careless, lamenting words had driven through him.

He was a good guy, a godly guy, he just wasn’t her guy, nor did he want to be. At almost 27 and not dating, I’m aware of the dating issues in our culture caused by both men and women not stepping up. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t stepping up, or if we feel there are no good “guys or gals” left around. Christ calls us to love and respect each other – in EVERY kind of relationship and interaction. Validate Him

We love, respect, honor, and are gentle with each other because we love Jesus and He loves us. That’s it. Honor, love and respect have little to do with other person’s merit. The way we treat each other should be based on the Kingdom of God, not on how we feel about the other person.

There are good guys out there. I’m honored to know quite a few of them. When a guy is told that there are “no good guys” left, it can crush their desire to become more of a godly man.  It dismisses who they are now, and the potential they have in Christ.*

Ladies, even if we never say “there are no good guys left” out loud, thinking it WILL effect the way we relate to the guys around us. Thinking there are no good guys left might seem like a natural response to hurt we have received, or to the lack of dating activity in our lives, but quite frankly, it’s sin.

This sin is something the Lord has convicted me so strongly of in the past few years. It’s sin, because it does not encourage or build up our brothers in Christ, and in our minds, it puts us as above the guys around us. We would be terribly hurt if our worthiness as a women or wife potential was constantly belittled to others. Scripture is clear about how we should treat each other:

encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thess. 5:11

Thinking there are no good guys left, keeps us seeing guys for what they are not, rather than who they are. They are redeemed sinners, loved, heirs of Christ – WITH US! Critiquing guys in general because we do not have one sets us in a place of judgment. To judge another man’s servant is not for us to do. If we know at least one Christian* guy, than there are good guys left.

I realize that when we as women, say that there “are no good guys left” what we are really trying to say is that we do not know anyone right now whom we would consider dating or marrying. Well that’s ok, because there are different stokes for different folks. There are a lot of good men, and we will most likely only marry one. So let’s honor all of them? Because the rest are other people’s future husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers. And most importantly, lets honor and validate them in our thoughts and speech because that is how Jesus does it. All of our relationships and interactions should be about one thing – The Kingdom of God.

For practical tips on how to validate the guys around us, continue reading
Continue reading


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The Most Important Thing About You

“Who is Jesus to you?”  The question of who Jesus is, without a doubt, is one of the most important questions ever to be asked. And who Jesus is personally to us, is a question that cuts through everything – sick kids, stressed lives, mental fog, complacency, self-focus, and pain. ‘Who is Jesus to you’ is a question that invites vulnerability and realness as it cuts to the core of what is really important. It cuts straight to reality – what really is.

Who Jesus is to us in the moment we answer that question, says more about us, what we are going through, and our spiritual state than hours of conversation could reveal.

Tozer, in The Pursuit of God states:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Who Jesus is to us – to me and to you – reveals the basis of truth in our lives. It IS the most important thing about us.

Answering the question of who Jesus is to us, forces us to either:

-        Refocus and remember who He is (and that becomes a comfort in our present circumstances).

Or

-        Rejoice and spread the joy of where we are seeing Him move in our lives, and praise Him for who He is.

It’s a question you can’t go wrong with, and it breeds growth and community. As we grow in our understanding, knowledge, and love of God, who Jesus is to us will change with the season we are in. Sharing Jesus in us, cannot fail to encourage anyone hearing or responding to the question.

Tonight, after several weeks of not talking to my close friend Trina (who blogs over at trinaholden.com), I shot off a quick text to her asking her this question.

 Katie: “In one word, who is Jesus to you right now?”                                                                                              Trina: “Jesus is enough . . . Though Seth vomiting at dinner means I won’t get to go to church tomorrow. His grace covers even this”.

Her response not only reminded her of the Lord’s grace amidst vomit, it encouraged me to remember that Jesus was and is enough for things I’m dealing with too.

Who is Jesus to you

So friends. Pause. Today, right now.

Who is Jesus to you?

In this moment, when you hear His name, what is the first thing you think of about Him? Let that truth* penetrate your heart and the knowledge of it anchor your day.

Right now? Jesus is a Protective Warrior to me.

Who is He to you? I’d love to know and be encouraged by it. I would be honored if you shared it with me in the comments.

 *The truth in the answer to the question “who is Jesus to you?” has not always been pretty in my life. It’s ok, if it’s not in yours right now either. There has never been a more wonderful time than now to repentant and thank Him for revealing Himself to you.


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Perspectives on Longings

“A hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Psalm 13:12

In September, I wrote a blog series on Longings (view them here), and then shortly thereafter was asked to be a guest on the She Says podcast, to talk about longings. She Says is a once a month sermon length podcast  that one of my dear friends hosts. It’s a group of women who candidly talk through life and what the Lord is teaching them, topic by topic.  I was thrilled and terrified to be asked to join them. It was my first experience with podcasting (though I am serious sermon/podcast listener). The ladies have since asked me to be apart of the team, and it’s been a wonderful blessing to learn from them. I thought you may enjoy hearing their perspectives on longing as well. The podcast is a great wrap up to the series.

Listen here


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Victory Belongs to the Lord

Doctors. Specialists. Antibiotics.

Allergic reactions. Emergency rooms. Green smoothies.

Detoxes. All Natural – Everything. Essential Oils.

Sugar Free. Gluten Free. GAPS.

You name it. I tried it.

” The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

but the victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31″

You see, victory belongs to the Lord. Not to doctors, though He uses them. Not to natural remedies, though He gave them to us – because to Him, all glory is due. Isaiah tells us that he “will not yield His glory to another”. And He certainly will not.

No matter what I tried to battle the MRSA with, it failed. Daily for a year and half I fought, and as I did, all self-reliance and control died painful, slow deaths. Trust in any system of medicine waned, theology fell by the way side until all was stripped away. Have you ever come naked before the Throne of Grace?

A miracle happens there when we choose to let go of all pride, control and self-reliance. In His mercy the Father never turns a broken and naked child away. When all is stripped bare He remains faithful.

Although I could not see it at the time, He heard every cry and saw every painful tear, and there were many of them. 2012 was a year of tears for me; a year of raw faith when a lot of what I believed was tested, tried and refined. I woke up last Christmas to a huge boil and spent New Years in tears, begging for grace and pleading for healing as I carried the sickness into another year. The specialist could do nothing. In His grace, the very grace I was pleading for, He brought me to the most terrifying, exhilarating, and peaceful place. The place of “but God”, where heaven meets earth.

Through it all He asked me to believe Him, to believe He was big enough to heal me. “Could He?” “Did He want to?” And finally, “Would He?”

He is Jehovah Rafa, the God who heals. The One who first healed my heart, and then in abundant mercy when the time was right, the One who healed me physically. There was a group of friends who faithfully prayed over me, and one night last January– He healed. This Christmas was the one-year mark since I had a full blown MRSA boil. He is abundantly good and faithful. The journey has been long and painful, and even before the healing, the suffering is worth it to see the Father’s face. The side of His face that only pain reveals. When all was stripped away, He gave me everything – He gave me himself.

Whatever you are battling this Christmas, wherever you are broken and bare, there is hope, because He comes. One thing I have learned over the last few years is that He is faithful. He will not leave you there. He is not scared of our pain – what’s more, He enters into it. That is the miracle, and that is Christmas – Christ coming.

I have much to learn in what it means to walk in the healing and continue to trust Him for it. By His grace I’m slowly healing from the side effects, and every boil that has dared to start growing this past year, has vanished in the power of His name. There is nothing like literally watching healing in your own body to believe Him.

I blog today to praise Him – a year ago I was in a place where only He could move on my behalf and He did. This New Years I won’t spend in the doctor’s office, but in Kenya loving His children and by His grace bringing His healing love to them.

Christmas - He come

 Thank you dear friends and readers for the many times you prayed for me. You were apart of His grace. As many times as I prayed for healing, I want to praise Him for healing. Soli Deo Gloria – all glory to Him alone.

Below are a few posts I wrote through the journey with MRSA (in case you’re a new friend and reader of Not Unredeemed)

What I learned to do in sickness – Grasp

Last New Years – Robbed and Christmas Magic (2012)

Even This – Again and how He Heals our Faith

Fear


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“Gram – I am Happy!”

Her beautiful wrinkled hands reached up and gently cupped the sides of my face “Katie, I just want you to be happy!” Bewildered, my brain scrambled trying to comprehend what it was I had to be sad about. I didn’t remember being upset at anything.

A slow smile spread across my face as I looked around the room and realized what my grandmother was referring to – I was alone. Alone in the sense that I had not brought someone home for the Family Thanksgiving dinner. My siblings were gathered in clumps around the room with their wives, boyfriends or “special friends”.  Grammy wasn’t the first one this year to reference the fact that I was “alone”.

Chuckling now, I hugged her back tightly and said with emphasis, “Gram, I AM happy.” It was now her turn to look as bewildered as I had moments earlier. As I looked into her dear surprised face, and those of other family members who had come to offer their condolences of my single state or wishes that I could be happy with someone, I realized they all believed the same lie that I had believed for a long time. The subconscious lie that our identity is derived from our relationship status.

“Married”, “single”, “dating”, are words that describe our relational status for taxes and doctors offices. That’s it. Singleness may describe me, but it NEVER defines me.  My happiness and security does not come from a man, but from my relationship with Jesus Christ, and the status of that relationship is the only one I need to worry about.

only one relationship

For years I subconsciously believed that a change in my relational status would make me happier. I thank God I was ‘alone’ for many more years than I deemed acceptable, so He could strip me of those lies, until my identity lay in nothing but Him.

The further I get into my mid, (and quickly approaching!) late twenties, I’m more and more surprised and blessed to be single in these years. But that wasn’t always the case. In my late teens, I was sure it was the biggest travesty to be an “older single”. This dread came largely from not knowing any older single women who did “singleness” well. They walked around with long faces bemoaning their state, doing little with their lives. To some extent I believed that singleness was a bit like a holding pattern in life akin to the punishment of purgatory. Laughable? Oh yes! In writing, lies are so easy to detect, unlike the actions and emotional thought patterns on a lonely or hormonal day.

To be honest I don’t really enjoy blogging on singleness for a myriad of reasons, but the Lord has been prompting me to write on it for sometime. I believe, it’s because through Jesus I have learned that living as a single in my older twenties is not purgatory in the least! In truth I can tell my grandma that I am happy because in His presence there is a fullness of Joy. I don’t want to wait till I’m married and then write on singleness and tell you all how easy it is. I want to write from the heart of it, and be a testimony to what the Lord can do with a little surrender.  So stay tuned and feel free to suggest aspects of “Singleness” you would like to hear about.

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