As I reflected upon this month’s theme of contentment, I was reminded about one of last week’s meditations in the Abide app (designed to help people experience the peace of Christ through Biblical meditation and guided prayer).
The verse for the day was Psalm 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s a familiar verse, but I was floored when the host flipped it and asked a question for reflection and confession: Is there something for which you are not delighting in the Lord?
I had never thought of it like that. There were actually quite a few things breeding discontent at that moment, and I was convicted.
Upon reflection, I’ve come to believe that delight and content are related: We are only able to take delight in the Lord when we are content.
So, what is contentment? What are the similarities and differences between people who are content and those who are not? Do they have anything in common? Is there a pattern?
Some would assume the line between content and discontent would fall upon economic lines or age differentials or any number of sociological variables. But it doesn’t.
The fact is, you’re just as likely to find a content minority woman living in poverty as you are a discontent rich, white man living in Beverly Hills.
We all know it’s true, and yet somehow, we still mistakenly assume contentedness is a byproduct of achievement, economic success, and maybe even luck…
Isn’t it interesting how we associate certain aromas with specific times of the year? Pumpkin spice signals a season of thankfulness; cinnamon, pine, and peppermint usher in the season of giving.
Some smells are so lovely and inviting we automatically inhale deeply as soon as we detect them. (Yes, Starbucks, I’m talking to you!) Others are, shall we say…disgusting! Within nanoseconds of detection, windows go up, recycled air is blasted, hands cover nose, and we scream, “Skunk!”
Smells are powerful triggers, aren’t they? They can cause a visceral reaction instantaneously which makes it extremely important that we be aware of our own aromaticcontribution to our surroundings.
Therefore, it is with much compassion as your sister in the Lord that I must tell you—and I mean this in the nicest of ways: You smell!
“Worthy of the Calling” is the first Online Bible Study (OBS) that I’ve gotten a glimpse of from behind the scenes. When Sarah Koontz posted in our Christian Women Bloggers group that she was prayerfully pulling together a launch team for her new OBS, I was intrigued and threw my name into the hat.
I am so excited to walk through the doors God keeps opening for me to participate in book launches! It’s really neat to get to know the authors on a personal level and learn the story behind the book, movie, or the OBS. Launching a new product is a lot of work, and I consider myself blessed to have been a teeny part of helping to raise awareness of this study and, more importantly IMHO, the author.
Who Is Sarah Koontz?
Sarah Koontz is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. She writes to inspire women of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design at SarahKoontz.com.
Sarah got her start in the blogosphere when she and her best friend launched a blog about family, healthy choices, chickens, and life on the farm. Since her ultimate goal was to become a speaker and published author in the Christian Living genre, however, it wasn’t long until Sarah learned that her current writing platform would actually hinder, not help, her chances of being published. She recalls:
I had the privilege of speaking with the acquisitions editor from a respected Christian publishing house. When I pitched my first book idea, she asked me why I was blogging about health when it was obvious my passion was to equip Christian women to embrace God’s design for their lives.” Sarah
After much prayer, conversation, and consideration, Sarah took a major step of faith and walked away from her successful health blog into which she had invested blood, sweat, and tears and toward a brand new blog where she would write freely about her faith. The ultimate and overarching goal was to become a published author.
Writing on God’s Schedule
It was around this time that Sarah felt the Lord leading her to write an Online Bible Study on Psalm 119. Which she did, and the feedback she received on it was incredible! When it was finished, she assumed she would go back to working on her non-fiction book.
But, the Lord had something else in mind for her (and her audience): EPHESIANS. Sarah was prompted to write this amazing study—but I honestly believe that she had no idea how big this would become! It’s YUGE!!! ? ?
God led Sarah not only to write this amazing Bible study, but also invite others into the process: creative partners and a launch team (of which I am a part).
“Worthy of the Calling” —BEFORE IT EVER CAME OUT— inspired a variety of artists who created items reflecting Paul’s main message to the members of the church in Ephesus. From bookmarks to coloring pages and original artwork to clothing and accessories—even a new song!—all of this was created for you to enhance your Bible study. Most have been made available to participants as free downloads and giveaways.
So Much Beauty. Such Wow.
Sarah had no idea that her study would impact so many lives before it even came out. But God did. He’d only just begun.
“Worthy of the Calling” is an original, exegetical, and inspirational Bible Study that arrives daily into your e-mail inbox for one month. Investing only 10-15 minutes per day, you will be able to complete a verse-by-verse through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
You’ll read a few verses every day, five days per week, and use the weekend as time to reflect on what you’ve learned and how to apply it to your life. The study is complemented with free downloads to help you in your time of reflection.
I needed this study in my life. Sure, I have enjoyed being part of the launch team, but more than that, I’ve enjoyed having someone else walk me through Ephesians with a completely fresh perspective on the message contained therein.
You Are Worthy
Sarah clearly shows that the theme running throughout this letter is the Christian life—what that means from a practical standpoint.
These aren’t just esoteric or abstract concepts that are hard to grasp. They are simple. Profound. True.
Following Paul’s lead, Sarah lays a firm foundation explaining who we are in Christ: chosen, heirs, spiritually alive, reconciled to God with direct access to Him. Day 12 provided one of my favorite lessons: “You Are Rooted in Love.”
Drawing from her experience on the farm, Sarah was able to shed light on the importance of deep roots. She states that a “robust root system” is essential for us to withstand life’s storms, and then she explains exactly how a Christ follower could strengthen his or her root system. #sogood
As the study moves toward one of the most famous sections in scripture, the spiritual armor of God, Sarah walks us through each verse with care and consideration looking under every rock for some nugget of truth to help us live an abundant life worthy of the calling.
Near the end of the study, we walk through the armor of God. This is not a redo of Priscilla Shirer’s recent study which was in-depth and took weeks to go through a few verses. Instead, Sarah’s study of this section is more of an overview with excellent, memorable summations and practical application to our lives.
Working my way through “Worthy of the Calling” reminded me not only whose I am, but who I am in Christ. It reminded me of my calling—not “into ministry” or anything like that—but my calling to be myself, and to trust that being me is the best thing I can do.
The Big Takeaway
When I asked Sarah what she was praying would be the biggest takeaway for the folks working through her study, she replied,
You are God’s daughter. Created for His glory, and chosen by Him before the foundation of the world. You are holy and blameless in His sight and He has blessed you with EVERY spiritual blessing. You are worthy of the calling you have received, and God has provided all that you need to walk in worthiness.”
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. If you’re interested in cultivating a habit of Bible reading, reflection, and application in your busy life, then let me recommend to you Sarah E. Koontz – Christian Writer‘s brand new, FREE, e-mail based Bible study on Ephesians. It’s called “Worthy of the Calling,” and it’s worthy of your time.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”
Have you ever noticed that the words GIVE and GIVEN are in the middle of forgiveness? I guess I never really thought about it. Until today. And now, that which has been seen cannot be unseen.
ForGIVEness is a noun, and as such, it is a thing. It is something you can give, and it is something that can be given to you—whether you choose to receive it or not. Isn’t that interesting?
Psychologists have long contended that the offer of forGIVEness benefits the person giving it regardless of the recipient’s reaction. Why? Rarely do the people we need to forgive have a clue how much harm they have inflicted or the extent of the pain they have caused. Can I get a witness?!
ForGIVEness is not about fighting for justice or holding the offender accountable—that’s completely different. ForGIVEness is an attitude of the heart. It’s about us and our willingness to trust God’s sovereignty: Do we trust God enough to forGIVE someone for hurting us? Our family? Our friends? Our pastor? Our animals? Our possessions? Our bank accounts?
Are you someone who enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles? If so, do you top out at 500 pieces, or are you a glutton for punishment preferring 1000+? I’m not a jigsaw fanatic, but I enjoy working on a good puzzle every now and then. My favorite moment in the puzzling process occurs when I finally locate a piece that has been eluding me, setting off a string of easy matches.
My mother-in-law loves “puzzling,” and has framed a couple of the more beautiful puzzles she’s completed over the years. When we were at the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we purchased a stunning 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for her as a souvenir. The image was an artist’s rendering of a view from the South Rim overlooking the Canyon at sunset. It was gorgeous! If you close your eyes, you can probably imagine what it looked like; however, I seriously doubt that you would attempt this puzzle without the box right in front of you. Most puzzlers refer to the picture on the box repeatedly to make sure they are headed in the right direction.
So, what if I were to tell you that life is more like a box of puzzle pieces than a box of chocolates? It is. Not only do you “never know what you’re gonna get,” but neither will one bite help you figure it out! You just have to live it. One funky-cut piece at a time.
The Parables of Jesus a Coloring Book Devotional by Laura James and Katara Washington Patton is like two books in one! Not only do you get a coloring book filled with beautifully-drawn illustrations of imagined scenes in Jesus’ parables, but you also get thought-provoking devotionals based on the corresponding Scripture passage.
Both the author and illustrator are African American women who love Jesus and have expressed their personal journeys of faith on these pages. The illustrations were created with people of color in mind across all ethnicities, which is helpful, since so many coloring books reflect the Anglo-Saxon or European culture. The characters in each parable were purposefully depicted in such a way that anyone, regardless of nationality, could color them and reflect their own (or the Jewish) cultural heritage.
I love this coloring book devotional! ?
The layout is set-up so that you read the devotional first, and then as you color the detailed pictures, you reflect on the scripture passage that you read and the author’s insights. You can also use this time to practice a little introspection and self-examination in response to the parable.
For example, the book opens with a devotional entitled “Out with the Old, in with the New” based on Mark 2:21 which says,
Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.” (NLT)*
The author insightfully explains the parable, and concludes the devotion with a few thought-provoking questions about how to apply the lesson in our own lives.
The next page contains a full-page illustration of a woman sewing a patch onto a beautiful robe.While I was coloring the picture, I reflected on the devotional, and the questions. It gave me the perfect opportunity to turn my focus to the Lord and relax while meditating on the Word.
The wise man builds his house upon the rock; the foolish man builds his house upon the sand.
The parable of the sower
One lost sheep
The good Samaritan
The prodigal son
The rich man and Lazarus
The Pharisee who prayed loudly vs. the tax collector who prayed for mercy
and many, many more!
Each page containing a devotional reflection is laid out the same with the exact same leafy frame, so you would have to get creative if you don’t want each one of those to look the same; however, those really aren’t the pages you’re going to want to color.
There is ample room for journaling on each devotional page as well as the back of the illustrations should you need extra room to write. (I personally prefer to keep my journaling in a separate composition book.)
Specifications and a Surprise!
The thick pages measure roughly 10″ x 10″ and are printed on only one side, which is great because you don’t have to worry about ink or watercolors bleeding through to the next page. (In the off-chance the colors do soak through, they will transfer onto the following devotional page which features the exact same layout and design pattern as all the other devotional pages, NOT one of the illustration pages). In other words, it’s a no-worry coloring book that will minister to your soul!
As part of my evaluation of the book, I used a variety of media including chalk, colored pencils, and glitter gel pens. I had zero bleed through! What really surprised me, though, was how the book held up when I accidentally spilled a drink on the picture I was coloring. ? (It wasn’t a full cup, but it was enough to get all over the page.) I quickly blotted it dry, and much to my surprise, you cannot tell that I ever I spelled anything on it!
Finally, and this is just a bonus: The authors use a VARIETY of translations for the devotions. This is so refreshing!
One day, you’ll read from the Living Bible Translation; another day, you will read from the Amplified Version; and on another day, you will read from The Message; and so on.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”