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You are Invited to Celebrate Grace

I’m throwing a party and you are invited. We are going to celebrate grace!

Please join me this Thursday, August 25th from 7-9pm for the official launch of my newest Bible study, “Lavish Grace.” There will be food (and I’m sharing the recipes!), videos, giveaways, and lots more.

Facebook party

A few friends and I will be hanging out at my house and you can join us via the event page on Facebook. Here’s how it works:

  1. Follow this link to RSVP
  2. Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 25 at 7pm
  3. Invite a few friends to join you!
  4. On Thursday at 7pm grab your smart phone, tablet, or laptop and “show up” to the party
  5. Have fun! Here’s some of what you’ll be able to do:

Lavish Grace necklace

  • Print the recipes we share.
  • Join in the “grace discussions.”
  • Be the first to correctly answer the giveaway questions to win a Lavish Grace necklace! One will be given away every half hour!
  • Interact with the live videos.

Don’t miss any of the fun! Will you come celebrate grace with me?

 

 

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3 Ways God Gives Grace in Trials

Grace in trialsGod does not remove all the struggles and pain in our lives but He does overflow His grace in trials so we can stand  firm and keep going. I know this is true because His Word teaches it. And I have experienced it myself.

I woke in the middle of the night and the rawness of it all washed over me again. Our family faced a heart-breaking situation. I tried to fix it, but it seemed hopeless. I knew sleep would not come easily. I had no words left for prayer. I was prayed out.

Anxiety welled up and I reached for God. The Holy Spirit began to bring Scriptures to mind, so I began to “pray” them. Soon peace started to push out the anxiety until it was gone. Somewhere in the first chapter of 1 Peter I drifted off to sleep.

At the time, I was away from home staying with my oldest daughter. My grandson was just a few days old and I was helping out. The next morning, Kelley reported on how Micah slept the night before. Then almost as an afterthought she added, “The second time I came back to bed, Jeremy asked me to pray with him. He felt strongly we should pray for you right then.”

“What time was that?” I asked.

“It was about 3:15, 3:20,” Kelley replied.

That was the same time I lay awake in bed with anxiety threatening to take over. I know because I had looked at my phone. God did not fix the situation like I’d hoped, but He was not idle. He saw my need and He cared. He poured out His grace through the heart of my son-in-law and gave me the peace and strength to keep going.

Sometimes God intervenes in our trials in physical ways. He heals. He frees. He delivers. But He does not always. Often God works in far more miraculous ways. He pours out His grace to cover our soul needs.

God physically delivered the apostle Paul many times, like the release from prison shackles in Philippi. But it wasn’t those physical rescues Paul marveled over. No, Paul preached passionately about the lavish, unbounded grace of God poured out to sustain him in the midst of his trials.

Sometimes God allows struggles and difficulties to remain in our lives because He is using them to work out His spiritual and eternal purposes. He works in and through our trials to spiritually conform us to the image of Christ and to refine our faith and character.

Yet in the midst of those trials – while His “soul work” is being accomplished – God extends His grace to comfort, encourage, strengthen, and provide.

3 Ways God Extends Grace in Trials

  1. Presence – God may not change our difficult circumstances, but He will be with us. He will draw us close to His side through the presence of His Spirit to encourage, comfort, and console. He will ease our pain and grief through the fellowship of His people. He will even later use that experience to comfort others. Praise be to the God of all comfort! (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.)
  2. Power – When we have no strength to go on, God has more than enough. Acknowledge your need to God and accept His strength. Allow Him to push out any pride and self-sufficiency and make room for the abundant flow of God’s power. What we lack in our weakness, God will provide by His grace. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)
  3. Provision – Even if God doesn’t change our basic circumstances, He still meets our needs in the midst of them. Sometimes He makes physical provision. Sometimes He protects us from additional difficulty. But all the time, He is our Helper and Provider. (See 2 Corinthians 1:10-11.)

God may not always save the job, heal the illness, or calm the storm. But He will always give you an anchor of grace to hold you securely to the Solid Rock while the storm rages. God may not remove your difficult circumstances, but He will graciously give you everything you need to keep going.

In what ways have you experienced God’s grace in past trials? How can you look for His grace in your current struggle?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

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10 Ways to Foster Gracious Speech

Gracious speechGracious speech has the power to heal, build up, and encourage. But, oh, the tongue is hard to tame! Have you ever regretted something you said? I certainly have!

Years ago, when our young family lived in Wyoming, my parents regularly came all the way from Louisiana to visit us. Just before one such visit, we purchased a dining table and chairs for a long-empty breakfast area. I couldn’t wait to show off the new furniture.

The first time we gathered around the table, Mom pulled out her chair and sat. As she scooted forward, a leg of the chair caught in the groove between two tiles. The leg snapped off, the chair tilted, and my mother hit the floor. Hard.

My immediate reaction was not words of grace. Oh, no. “You broke my chair!” is what came out of my mouth. Not, “Are you alright?!” or “Let me help you!”

My mother looked so hurt. Not physically; the tumble wasn’t bad. But I terribly hurt her feelings. My quick words revealed what was in my heart – I cared far too much about material things. My first thought had been for the chair, not my mother. And my thoughtless words wounded her.

The apostle Paul knew our words have the power to build up or tear down. In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, he tells them – and us – exactly what effect our speech should and should not have on others.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29, KJV

First, our speech should not “corrupt.” Corrupt speech is far more than curse words. Corrupt speech is graceless speech. Corrupt speech tears down, deflates. Whenever we speak corrupt words to our spouse, our child, our coworker, or friend, they deflate like a beach ball full of holes.

Can you see them deflate? Any words not wholesome or beneficial tear them down emotionally and spiritually. Little by little the air goes out. Sadly, I’ve seen my own words have that effect on other people.

Second, our speech should “benefit” or “minister grace” to others. Once again, picture that limp, floppy beach ball. What happens when you blow air into it? That’s exactly how gracious words affect another person. Like air blown into a deflated beach ball, good and edifying words will encourage and build up an individual, helping them to reach their full potential in Christ.

Even when we long for our words to give grace to others, sometimes things break down between our desire and the words that flow out of our mouths. Sadly, our words will betray us, revealing the junk we have hidden in our hearts. Things like insecurity, hurt, unresolved anger, selfishness, and pride produce words that wound, tear down, and corrupt.

Would you like your words to consistently encourage, build up, and give grace to others?

10 Ways To Foster Gracious Speech

1. Regularly reflect on the unbounded grace God has lavished on us.
2. Remember God will hold us accountable for every word we speak (Matthew 12:36).
3. Constantly check our hearts for sinful attitudes and motivations. (See Matthew12:34-36.)
4. Ask God to heal old hurts, soothe anger, and humble pride.
5. Refuse to use “corrupt” speech – any words that wound, discourage, or tear down.
6. Commit to using “good” words – kind and gracious words that build up and encourage.
7. Find something positive with which to begin and end every conversation.
8. Don’t waste time talking about things that can’t be changed.
9. Focus on the other person. Ask questions about them and their feelings.
10. Exercise self-control. Sometimes the most gracious thing to say is nothing.

With God’s grace flowing through us, our words can be tools of grace God uses to build up, encourage, and edify.

When was the last time your noticed the power of your words to either wound of give grace? What was the result?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

 

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Please Pass the Grace

Pass the GraceHave you ever squirted hand cream into your hand from a tube, only to have far more plop out than you could ever work into your skin? If you’re like me, after you’ve rubbed some into your hands – and elbows – you look for a friend or two with whom to share the abundance. Hand cream for everyone!

God’s grace is like that hand cream. He gives His children more than we could possibly use ourselves. Here’s how the apostle Paul describes the abundance of God’s grace in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8a, NIV

My favorite word Paul used to describe the nature of God’s grace is found right here in the eighth verse of the first chapter of Ephesians. “Lavished.” God is not stingy with His grace! He lavishes it on His children.

According to Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, the Greek word translated as “lavish” in the NIV and “abounded” in the KJV means “to abound, be in abundance, overflow.” God doesn’t give us just enough grace to get by. He doesn’t even give us a “generous” amount.

He gives us grace in such abundance we cannot hold it all. It overflows our ability to contain it. It abundantly floods our lives and spills out all around.

Praise God for this abundance of grace! More than we need. More than we can use for ourselves. Yet often we hoard His grace, refusing to share it. How could we, who’ve received such glorious, undeserved grace, dare withhold it from others?

God longs for us to be channels of His unbounded grace, not just stagnant pools. He lavishes us with His grace so we can generously share it in word and deed with those around us. Let us reflect on the grace God freely pours out on us so we can in turn be people of grace. Lavish, abundant, unbounded grace flowing from the heart of God, through us, to others. Please pass the grace!

What is one specific and practical way you can be a channel of God’s grace today?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

 

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Are You Dead or Alive?

Dead or AliveA couple of years ago, my car battery died and left me stranded in a doctor’s office parking lot. I didn’t get a warning. I had no trouble starting the car to drive to the appointment, but when I came out to go home, the motor didn’t even try to start.

I intercepted a cowboy headed out to his pickup truck and asked for his help. He agreed to do what he could and managed to finagle his vehicle into a position to connect our batteries. But still my car wouldn’t start.

I decided it must be something other than the battery. Maybe the starter. So I called Triple A and my father-in-law. The tow truck took my car to the dealership and my father-in-law took me home.

Later that day the service department called with the diagnosis. It was the battery. What? I asked why the “jump” didn’t get it going? According to the man who understands cars far more than I do, a battery has to have at least some life left in it to respond to a jump. My battery, on the other hand, didn’t have a single spark of life remaining. The only hope left for my car was a brand new battery. One that contained life. So, dead battery out and live battery in. Car started. Amazing.

Before Christ saves us, we’re like my car sitting in the doctor’s parking lot. We might look fine from the outside, but because we’re all sinners, we are all dead in our sin.

All have sinned (Romans 3:23); The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Sin brings spiritual death, cutting us off completely from the Source of spiritual life. We have no power to save ourselves, and no access to the One who does. Sounds like a hopeless state, doesn’t it? Oh, but the grace of God…

 But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

I am so overwhelmed by what God has done for us in Christ! Because of His love, and mercy, and grace, God replaces our death with His Life. And His Life is Jesus Himself. Eternal life is The Life in us.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hear my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

Are you dead or alive? Has there ever been a time in your life when you received God’s unbounded grace and crossed over from death to life? If so, then rejoice over that life today. If not, then why not receive His life today?

Are you dead or alive? Have you received God’s saving grace?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.”

The winner of last week’s Coloring Sheet Drawing is:

Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

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God’s Grace Doesn’t Make Sense

Grace Doesn't Make SenseGod’s grace simply doesn’t make sense to me. It is radical. Extreme. Counterintuitive. Free and boundless. It goes against human logic. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you either. So, why do we have so much trouble wrapping our minds around God’s lavish grace?

For starters, the world we live in operates with different rules. Normally, we reap what we sow. We work hard in order to earn a paycheck. When drive faster than the speed limit, we get an expensive ticket.

And, we know we don’t deserve grace. We don’t deserve a saving relationship with Jesus. Yet, He pours it out on those who don’t deserve it. God lavishes His grace on those not seeking it. And after our conversion, through times of rebellion, complacency, grief, and struggle, God gently draws us back to Himself with cords of love.

And still, the grace keeps coming! Through times of trial and suffering, it overflows our lives to provide comfort, encouragement, and strength. God extends His lavish grace to us every moment of every day.

What is Grace?

The best, condensed definition of grace I can give you is this: “Grace” is God’s divine favor and merciful, loving-kindness.

The Greek word usually translated as “grace” in the New Testament is charis. The definition of charis in The Complete Word Study New Testament includes these facets:

  • Closely related to the Greek word we translate as “joy”
  • Divine favor, kindness, acceptance
  • Favor bestowed on the undeserving without expectation of return
  • Absolute freeness of God’s loving-kindness to men
  • Motivated by the bounty and heart of the Giver
  • Unearned and unmerited favor
  • Forgives sin and affects a person’s sinful nature, shaping her to be used for God’s good purposes
  • Results in joy and gratitude in the one who receives it

Grace flows constantlyGod’s grace flows from His heart. It’s based on His bounty, His character. We do not merit His grace. We cannot earn it. Yet in His loving-kindness He freely pours it out.

Grace begins and ends with our gracious God. It’s all about Him, yet you and I benefit. Isn’t that amazing?

I still don’t understand God’s grace. But I will forever rely on its lavish abundance.

How have you experienced God’s lavish grace this week?

This post is part of a month-long emphasis on grace to celebrate the release of Kathy’s newest Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Here are a few ways you can join in the celebration!

 

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Color Grace for a Chance to Win

Coloring giveawayIf you could color grace, what color would it be?

A couple of years ago, I asked my Facebook friends: “If grace were a color, what color would it be?” The response was overwhelming! Many said “blue” because grace is “fresh” and washes away our sins with the Living Water of Jesus. Others said “red” because God extends His grace in the “blood of Jesus.” Still others said white, yellow, green, purple, and just about every other color you can imagine.

What color do you imagine grace to be?

I would love for you to show me the way you would color grace! To celebrate the release of my new Bible study “Lavish Grace,” I commissioned three beautiful coloring sheets that correspond with the three sections of my new Bible study, “Lavish Grace.”

Color Grace for a Chance to Win!

The first sheet is available to download and print today! Help me spread the word about “Lavish Grace” and enter the weekly prize bundle giveaway by coloring your sheet and posting a pic of it on Instagram or Facebook with the hash tag #LavishGrace.

Click here to find out more and download the first coloring sheet.

Delightful Dangles earringsStart coloring and posting pics of your colored sheets! Entries for the first sheet will be accepted now through August 10 at noon. This week’s winner will receive: Delightful Dangles Earrings from World Crafts artisans and a book bundle from New Hope Publishers.

A big thanks to New Hope Publishers and World Crafts for partnering with me in the “Lavish Grace” launch. You can find out more about the free trade products at World Crafts. Select your own beautiful piece and save 20% off your purchase of WorldCrafts products with code KH16 through January 31, 2017!

More Grace to Celebrate

In case you missed Monday’s post, you will want to check it out so you don’t miss any of the excitement happening this month. I want you to be a part of everything! Giveaways, chatting, fun, and lots and lots of GRACE. Download your Lavish Grace Poured Out coloring sheet now!

So, what do you think? If grace were a color, what color would it be? And why?

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Let’s Celebrate God’s Lavish Grace!

Lavish GraceDo you need grace? Silly question, I know. We all need God’s grace every day. And every day He freely pours it out in lavish abundance. God’s grace is truly worth celebrating. That’s exactly what we intend to do!

Right here, throughout the month of August, we are going to celebrate grace – God’s lavish grace in our lives and the release of Kathy’s new Bible study “Lavish Grace.”

This post is a giveaway! Read all the way to the bottom to find out how to enter!

Celebrate God’s Lavish Grace

Here are a few of the things you can look forward to:

  • “Lavish Grace” Bible Reading Plan – Kathy has developed a 3-week Bible reading plan that highlights God’s lavish grace poured out, poured through, and overflowing. Begin the plan on Monday, August 8th, then stop by Kathy’s Facebook page on Saturday mornings for coffee and to talk about grace.
  • Weekly Coloring Giveaways – Kathy commissioned three beautiful coloring sheets to correspond with the three sections of the new Bible study. The first sheet will be available to download and print Thursday, August 4th. You will enter the weekly prize bundle giveaway by coloring your sheet and posting a pic of it on Instagram or Facebook with the hash tag #LavishGrace.
  • Facebook Live Launch Party – Don’t miss the big event! On Thursday, August 11, we will gather on Facebook from 7-9pm. There will be food (including recipes), giveaways (one every half hour), music, live video from Kathy’s house, great discussion, and lots of fun! RSVP now!
  • Saturday Morning “Grace & Coffee” Talks – On Saturdays August 13, 20, and 27, grab your coffee and join us on Facebook for a little “grace talk.” Kathy and a few of her friends will be guiding practical discussion about how to experience God’s grace and how to be women of grace. It will be real and raw. “Like” Kathy’s FB page so you don’t miss a thing!
  • The “Lavish Grace” necklace Kathy has partnered with Sheila Dresbach and Dandelions Lavish Grace necklacein December to create this simply beautiful reminder of God’s lavish grace. Kathy will be giving away 4 of these beauties during the Facebook Launch party. But you can also purchase one any time at Dandelions in December on Etsy for just $19!
  • Deeper understanding of God’s Lavish Grace – Throughout the month, right on this blog, Kathy will be sharing from God’s Word about practical ways to experience His grace and what it looks like to be people that share His grace. If you long to grow in God’s grace, you will not want to miss a single post.

Don’t Miss a Drop of Grace!

Check in here every Monday and Thursday throughout August to find out what’s happening. And of course, if you want to really dive deep into God’s grace, check out Kathy’s new Bible study “Lavish Grace.” Available for pre-order right now, it will be in stores any day!

Kathy wants to give away one copy “Lavish Grace” to kick-off the celebration! All you have to do to enter is tells us in the comments below that you plan to celebrate grace with us in August! Kathy will draw for the winner at 6am Thursday, August 6th!

Find out more about “Lavish Grace” by watching the video below:

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When Busyness Crowds Out Stillness

busynessJesus studies me. He observes my frenetic activity. My busyness. I am concerned over many things—the largely significant and the extraordinarily unimportant. He sees stress creasing my face and observes the knot in my shoulders. He hears my sighs as my tears tremble on my lashes. He notices me moving irritably toward two quarreling toddlers and listens as I scold my six-year-old harshly. He hears me curse beneath my breath when my husband calls, “I won’t be home until eight.” Hope for a Bible study with friends dissolves.

“Come to me,” He whispers. “If only,” I groan.

“Be still and know that I am God.” “How can I be still?” I grieve, as I recall the mountain of unfolded laundry and watch a million Cheerios tumbling onto the kitchen floor.

How, indeed?

Time with Christ in communion, fellowship, and the word is as important to the saint as food and water is to life. I would like to release you from additional responsibility. But in good conscience, I can’t. I can, however, attempt to liberate you from the burden of it.

Being with Christ in communion is not supposed to be a chore. It’s an invitation to wonder. The invitation says:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

There are ways we can “keep company” with Christ during busy days. We can connect with Him like Brother Lawrence, who practiced the presence of God in his daily life. He meditated, worshiped, and prayed as he performed common labor. We can do the same.

6 Ideas to Stay Centered on God’s Truth in the Midst of Busyness

  1. Pray for your children and husband as you fold clothes.
  2. Pray for leaders and elected officials as you listen to the news.
  3. Listen to worship music while cooking or doing household chores.
  4. Keep the “taxi” radio tuned to your local Christian radio station.
  5. Take advantage of technology. Use a Bible app for Bible reading on the go.
  6. Find a short devotional book for this busy season of life.

Some of these things can help us stay centered on truth. It’s good to have options and a plan when busyness crowds out stillness.

But still, there is nothing like being still.

5 Tips for Making Time for Still in the Midst of Busy

  1. Steal time. Five minutes. Ten. More? Quit texting. Get off Facebook. Facetime God. Don’t make beds. Eat fruit for dinner; your family will survive. Christ is your lifeline and the faithful abiding love of your life. Please steal time. Your family will thank you.
  2. Be still. Close your eyes. First shut the bathroom door. Turn your face toward Him. Breathe His name—His holy powerful name. Jesus. He has promised His presence to His children. He sees all and loves you unconditionally. Rest in His empowering grace. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22a)
  3. Know that He is God. Meditating on the unfathomable riches given to us through Christ is empowering (Ephesians 1:1-14; 2:18-21; 3:4-10; 3:13-21). Your ultimate quest is to know God. The knowledge of God and His grace will be a source of hope and a spring of joy. It will also be an endless adventure because He is incomprehensible.
  4. Come boldly. You are righteous through faith by the glorious grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). You have a right to be in the throne room. Christ gives you that right. You don’t deserve it, haven’t earned it, and can’t earn it. He simply likes you and wants you to come, especially in your weakness, sin, and shame.
  5. Find grace, mercy, and help. “Come boldly to the throne of grace that you may receive mercy and help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) How many times have my children run to me with stubbed toes, skinned knees, and broken hearts? My desire has always been to relieve pain and help. Certainly, I am no better than God—the source of abundant grace.

Daily we are invited to know God, fellowship with Him, and contemplate His truth, grace, and glory. It’s not a chore. Remember? It’s an invitation to wonder.

How do you find time to “be still” with God in the midst of a busy life?

Engaging MotherhoodLinda Barrett is the co-author of the recently published Bible study “Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling.” Linda has spent her life pointing others to the glory and grace of God through teaching, mentoring, writing, and art. Birmingham, Alabama is home. She is wife to Raymond and mother to three grown children. Linda blogs about life, beauty, and wonder at Invitation to Wonder.

 

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My Southern-Fried Faith

In the south, we fry anything and everything. If it walks, runs, jumps, swims, or flies we will roll it in flour or cornmeal and drop it in a skillet or Fry Daddy. In addition to the commonly known fare, I’ve also eaten fried alligator, squirrel, dove, rabbit, and crawfish.

Side note for context: I was born and raised in northern Louisiana. And yes, watching Duck Dynasty is like attending a family reunion.

FaithIn many places in the south, “fry” is the default method of cooking. Unless otherwise requested, your meat or vegetable and sometimes even your bread and dessert get baptized in boiling oil. It’s simply assumed. After all, everything is better when it’s fried.

When I was growing up, I internalized the “fry principle” and a host of other southern assumptions. For instance, tea is always iced, right hands go over hearts when a flag passes by, pick-up trucks are perfectly acceptable prom night transportation, and good people go to church.

From infancy my parents faithfully took me to Sunday School, worship service, Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday night prayer meeting. I memorized Bible verses, earned high attendance pins, and wore wire hanger angel wings covered with gold garland in the Christmas pageant.

Church service and attendance wove through the fabric of our family. The question of whether or not we would go on any given Sunday was never raised because we were a “church family.” This faithful commitment to church hindered my faith.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. The family my husband and I raised could be described as a “church family.” And I would not want it any other way. But while both might look the same on the surface, a drastic difference exists between my childhood church attendance and my adult faith.

Inside-Out Christianity

During the first half of my life, I attended church because I was what a “good Christian girl.” To me, Christianity meant saying the right things and doing what everyone expected. And that’s exactly what I did. In fact, my brother sarcastically dubbed me “Sister Mary Kathryn.” And although Mary Kathryn is indeed my given name, I’m sure my parents never meant it to be used as a synonym for Miss Goody Two-shoes.

Although I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight, I experienced little to no spiritual growth. The rich relationship I wanted with Christ eluded me. Something vital was missing. Connected to church, I still felt disconnected from God. I had no real sense of God’s presence. I could see the kind of passionate, dynamic faith I longed to have in other’s lives.

But despite many weak attempts to pump up my own faith, it remained dry and flat. Even though I had been taught differently, I had internalized that faith was what you do. I missed the part about it being all about Who you know.

Relationship of Faith Over Religion

“Doing” is a human’s default setting. We like to make lists and check off the items, proving to ourselves that we have accomplished something. We can perform the outward motions of faith without actively pursuing the object of our faith.

Religion cannot satisfy. Unless our works of faith flow naturally out of a vital relationship with our Maker it is merely religious ritual. We were created for relationship, not outward trappings of religion. Faith that does not produce these kinds of works is dead and useless (James 1:20). But religious works performed from a sense of duty or habit only sap our spiritual strength, leaving our faith dry, weak, and flat.

Setting Assumptions Aside

 Over the years, I’ve learned that some southern assumptions of my childhood were accurate and some needed a bit of adjustment. For instance, while a few things are indeed glorious fried, the flavor of most food is best appreciated when it is grilled, sautéed, or baked, and a mug of hot herbal tea soothes a sore throat on a cold day. But, I still cover my heart in respect for the flag and my son took his date to the prom in his pick-up.

Although the Bible Belt culture of my north Louisiana childhood is less influential today, religiosity can still hinder true relationship with Jesus. I had to set religion aside and embrace relationship with the One who died to save me. Religion alone is as dry as yesterday’s toast. But relationship with the living Savior is exciting, satisfying, and yes, passionate.

Have you ever struggled to move past religion into a real relationship with Jesus? If so, how did that go??

This post is an excerpt from Kathy’s book “Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith.”

 

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