Empty Shelf Book 12: The Pursuit of God

Title: The Pursuit of God

Author: A.W. Tozer

What’s it about: The Pursuit of God is about just that: pursuing God. Tozer discusses how we can get pursue a closer relationship with God.

Why did I read it: Tozer is an awesome theologian.

Favorite idea: “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” This is absolutely beautiful. God want us to pursue Him so badly.

Where can you buy it: Right here

Reading The Bible Is Hard

Reading the Bible is hard.

I won’t lie, some days, I just don’t feel like reading the Bible.

Occasionally, I’ll use the excuse that I shouldn’t read it when apathetic. But I’ve realized that’s pretty pathetic–as most excuses are. That’s like saying I’m only going to read the New Testament because it’s more “relevant” or “understandable.” If I based my habits around this then I’d pick and choose passages and never allow myself be challenged by God’s Word.

My problem is that before I even open up to a book I expect words to just come flying off at the page at me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with these sentiments.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I am fasting from Facebook for Lent.  What I’ve discovered is that it’s much easier to fast from something than to fast and make an intentional effort to grow spiritually during that time.

That being said, I’ve decided to try something new that will hopefully help re-ignite my passion for God’s word. I’m going to write out the book of Ephesians.

I’m not sure what I’ll learn, or if I’ll learn anything at all from studying the scripture in this way.

But Paul is cool and I like writing letters so there’s that too.

I was kinda sorta inspired by Lucas Chadwick who, in 2012 set out on a journey to write out the entire Bible. It’s a crazy cool project and you should definitely check out his Facebook page.

-Kayla

P.S.

I’d love to hear any stories about how you grew closer to God through his word. Join me on this challenge?

Empty Shelf Book 11: Blue Like Jazz

Title: Blue Like Jazz: Non-religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Author: Donald Miller

What’s it about: Christian Spirituality. Miller talks about a variety of emotions, such as depression, loneliness, relationships, love, finances and etc. I feel like it’s so, so relevant to young adults. He talks about all of these issues from personal experience which makes it even easier to read.

Why did I read it: I’ve heard so many good things about this book. From youth pastors, favorite authors and peers. I love Miller’s honesty and transparency.

Favorite idea: I underlined something in every chapter of this book, but my favorite idea is this: “I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel, I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. but it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.”

Where you can buy it: (and I highly recommend you do)

How to Join the Empty Shelf Challenge: join

You should really, really, really read this book.

-Kayla

Hope Is Hard

Hope is hard. It’s a fact of life.

But hope is also beautiful. It means we’re choosing to believe that there is indeed a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. That, my friend, is no easy feat.

Hope is counting on and clinging to what we cannot see. Hope is what we grab hold of as we’re searching for peace in the middle of a war. Hope is not always comforting, but sometimes it’s all that’s left.

If hope were a person, I wonder what he’d say or what he’d do. I’d like to believe that he’d take my hand and say “here’s my hand, you can squeeze it.” Hope would know that if I can’t change my present circumstances, I’m better off knowing I don’t need to endure the battle ahead alone.

Faith and hope work closely together. Without faith, how could we hope?  How else could we confidently say,”everything will work out.” Hope is the product of faith in something. In anything. In anyone.

C.S. Lewis once said that “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” Sounds a lot like hope doesn’t it?

Not everyone may believe in God or a supernatural being, but it’d take an incredible amount of convincing for someone to tell me they didn’t have hope. We hope in our friends, our family, our circumstances. In tangible things.

However, I’ve found the most beautiful sort of hope is that which can’t be seen or heard or touched, but still believed in. 

-Kayla

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Waffles vs. Spaghetti: For the Guys

Dear Guys,

First of all, if you don’t plan on reading this entire post read this —>  waffles are much different from spaghetti. In fact, I think the only characteristic the two foods share is the insane amount of carbs.

If you remember this concept, I predict that any sort of relationship with any woman you have in your life will improve drastically. Maybe all it means is that you understand your mom better. Or your friend. Or your sister. Or any individual belonging to the female species. You do not need a survival guide. Or a book.  Or a list of rules. Spaghetti must become your new favorite food. Second only to the Bread of Life. (Cheesy pun intended).

If you failed to notice, girls are really good at not giving away anything. You could be talking to her about one thought  while she’s thinking through a million–at the exact same time. This is called multi-thinking.  To play it safe, assume that if you haven’t thought it, she’s thinking it.

Let’s create a scenario to work with. You’ve just met this girl? You start the small talk etc. Now imagine this, she’s already thinking about whether you’ll be simply friends, or if there are deeper intentions. She’s thinking of the possibility of a first date. Here’s a glimpse at the female brain:

“Does he like me?” “Is he going to ask me out?” If so, “when?” “Where will he take me?” “What will I wear?” “How tall is he?” “Can I wear heels?” “Has he dated another girl? If so, “who?”Is he still dating her?” If not, “why?” “Does he have certain standards, boundaries, and expectations?” “What is he passionate about?”

The list goes on and on and on and on and on.

She’s thinking of every detail. 

NOW, that was an example of multi-thinking. I hope I didn’t scare you. I’m only being realistic. Another thing,  this IS NOT to say all a girl ever thinks about is her future wardrobe and dates.  This is not true at all. If I asked these exact questions with every guy I met I’d be in an even more complex state of mind.

She needs your help, but she forgets to ask. Multi-thinking is a habit that is constantly occurring. It occurs in the subconscious and conscious. It’s exhausting. If you would be a gentleman and  lay out your intentions-whatever they may be- right away, she will be eternally grateful. She’ll only have to think and inquire about what you haven’t brought up. Her brain will be less likely to explode.  Girlfriends have trouble assisting their girlfriends think about one thing at a time. It’s nearly impossible.

If you’re still with me, AWESOME.

As my friend McKenzie would say, “Does that make you feel…good about everything?”

Since you have the enviable ability to think things through slowly and thoroughly, and even one thought at a time, let this marinate your thought process for the next 24 hours. 

P.S. I’m writing a post just for the girls too. What do they need to know about guys? How are waffles distinct?

-Kayla

Writing Is Hard

Writing is hard.

Every writer has this defining point in their writing journey where they ask themselves the questions:

 “Why am I writing?” “Is it all worth it?” “Who should I write for?” “Should I write for high stats, or what’s on my heart?”

I’ve been blogging for a year. I haven’t even reached 2,000 views. I’m pretty sure I get the most views when my mom shares my posts on her Facebook page. My fan-base is limited. (I’m not sure it even qualifies as a fan-base). I’ve signed up for about every suggested social media site one could think of. And, consequently, I haven’t seen much change in my stats.

I continue writing. If I don’t write, I feel as if part of me is missing. Still, it’d be nice for a complete stranger who is more successful than I have been to recognize my work. There is no denying that wishful thinking.

I hate sounding cliche, but no great thing comes easily. Good things come with hours, weeks, even years of hard work.  That’s what I missed when I first began my journey. I missed the tears, the calloused fingers, the rejections, the failed attempts. The ceremonious burning of drafts. The promise to get up, leave, and never write another word. Those are defining moments in any artist’s life. The rise to fame hardly compares to the time spent laboring to arrive at that point.

So if it’s not easy, why do it? I’ll tell you why. Because that one person who is impacted by your writing, makes up for the lack of viewers, the low stats, the rejection letters.

One of my Twitter followers responded to my post stepping away for awhile with these words: “You shine.” Folks, that’s why I keep writing.

If you write for numbers, there’s good chance you might not write anything great at all.

Keep at it.

-Kayla

The Church Is Not A Building

The church is not a building.

I’ve always loved this concept. The church is not a building, rather, it’s a community of Christ followers. However, I came to the realization yesterday that the only place I’ve ever heard this concept discussed, is at church. The building. The sanctuary. In the pew. The irony of that fact hit me hard.

I was at college.

I attend a public community college. I wasn’t in chapel or in a theology class.

God moves everywhere. The bible study at my school, Ignite Fellowship, meets multiple times during the week. I haven’t been able to attend often because of a wacky schedule.

By God’s grace I was able to attend yesterday. It was beautiful. We met in a study room. Put our bibles on the conference tables in front of us.We sang a few worship songs and after that, we shared communion. We borrowed a small table and set it up in front of the small room and covered it with a table-cloth. A plate and goblet were set out.

In that moment, I had a revelation. When Jesus communed with his disciples as they were partaking in the Last Supper, they weren’t in a church building. No ordained pastor officiated it. I doubt anyone was dressed in their church clothes.

The last supper wasn’t pretty. I imagine the filthy dirt floors and Jesus and his devoted followers sitting around. I’m sure they were weary from going everywhere on foot. A steak dinner surely would have been accepted without a word. Nonetheless all that sat before them was a loaf of bread and some cheap wine. These twelve men had been everywhere with Jesus. And yet their going away party was anything from glamorous. In fact, right off the bat, Jesus puts forth a disclaimer: “one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).

Their meeting was somber. Tears were shed. I’m sure some felt a sense of abandonment and definitely confusion.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:26-28

Why do we create limitations? The church was a body of believers long before it was a building. Jesus is the head of the church, not a building. If we forget the people part,we forget Jesus’s heart. He loved people.

I find it hard to see how the true gospel will effectively be shared if we (if I) don’t live the gospel.

If we try harder to envision Jesus’s last supper, maybe then we will fully understand how important it is.

Watch out, the church is leaving the building.

-Kayla

5 Apps Worth Using

After much deliberation and resentment, I’ve “joined the I-Phone family.” My plan was to be that cool hipster person with some sort of Android. It appears I’m too mainstream. Anyhow, I thought I’d share my thoughts on  some neat apps I discovered

1. Happier. It’s like Facebook except, well happier. It’s less of a social media site and more a way to share “happy moments.”

2. Werdsmith is AWESOME.  It’s keeps track of your word count, you can share what you write, set goals for writing projects, etc. AND their logo is a mustache, so if you’re into facial hair, Werdsmith is clearly for you.

3.Dictionary.com. This one is for all of my fellow nerds out there. I mean, it’s not only a dictionary, but a thesaurus as well. Did I mention it works offline?

4.OK DO THIS. Maybe I had high expectations, but I found Instagram a little anticlimactic. I mean, that’s what you do when you get an I-Phone, am I right? It’s possible it’s only a cooler experience for those who are InstaFamous-if you know what I mean. Anyways, if you enjoy Instagram (or if you don’t) OK DO THIS will blow your socks off. If you currently feel as though you are contributing to a pool of already large #selfie and #food pictures, this app takes everything to the next level.

5. Flipboard. Because everything that you used to read in the paper is now online. Why not create a personal, organized platform where you can read articles from papers, magazines, blogs, and social media sites? Like most apps, it takes a little playing around with to really understand it’s purpose.

P.S. I’m looking for a new Bible app. The You Version is great, but it keeps bugging out on me. Suggestions?

I am on instagram, and you can check out my feed at the bottom of the page. My username is kaylanbonar. I’d still highly recommend that you check out OK DO THIS. 

Stepping Away (for awhile)

This year I decided to participate in the Catholic holiday that is Lent. I’ve always admired people who have fasted from something (or even multiple things) for such a long period of time. For me, forty days could easily feel similar to forty years.

I’m not catholic nor do I have anything against catholic and in the big picture none of this has anything to do with Catholicism anyways.

I adore creating excuses. So much that I create excuses for creating excuses. (This is a skill). That being said, making the decision to commit to fasting for 40 days was a big deal. If anything, this experience will hopefully teach me to be honest with myself.

I took a look at a list of the 25 most popular things people give up for Lent. It’s quite interesting. Many aren’t very unusual. Chocolate, sweets, that sort of thing.

I chose Facebook.

I could come up with a million reasons why, but I’ll try to whittle down the list. Here are two things I struggle with that are made worse by social media (specifically Facebook):

  • Jealousy
  • Comparison

These two often go hand-in-hand and often end in an attitude of doom and gloom.

Sometimes, starting your day off by skimming through engagement pictures and watching your friends one by one change their relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ isn’t healthy. It just isn’t. Not because marriages are bad or relationships are bad, but because maybe it’s not what’s best for me right here in this moment.

When ‘everyone’ A.K.A those two or three people filling up your news feed seems to be doing something you aren’t it’s waay to easy to second guess my own actions. Starting off the day criticizing myself is probably not the best way to bring about a good ending.

If we’re friends on Facebook (and if we’re not), it should be clear that I’m not the type to limit my status updates to only grand spectacular events occurring in my life. Let’s be real. Everyday isn’t perfect, so why pretend that it is?

I’m not the perfect student. I’m a hard-working student, but not necessarily the one ringing in all 4.0’s. When the end of a quarter comes around, I tend to beat myself up over the fact that I, unlike ‘everyone’ else didn’t get as many 4.0’s as I should have.

As I said before, these are only two focuses. And the big picture isn’t Facebook. Or relationships. Or good grades. If you’ve been reading my posts, hopefully you’ll have noticed that their topics may vary, but I always attempt to pick out the life application. I don’t want you to read this a post, see that whatever is written is only applicable to me, and go on with your day. I desire more out of my writing than that.

Ultimately, by the end of these full forty days, I want to choose joy over jealousy and comparison. I want to rejoice in others when they are happy, not plaster on a fake smile. I do not believe the myth that if my friends Facebook timelines are perfect, so are their lives. For me, it’s an easy lie to believe.

Lent should be about giving something up to invite God in and fill what was before an empty space, temporarily gratified. Leave room for God.

Question to ponder: If God is the absolute best, why don’t we choose Him above all else every time? 

-Kayla

small is the new big: what a stranger told me about my faith

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Disclaimer: This post is slightly longer, but I think the story is awesome, so you should at least skim to the end.

I don’t know about you, but some days I’m quite sure that my life would be utterly boring without the Community Transit system. In class everyday, it’s not to hard to predict what that period will bring. With bus stops on the other hand, you just never know.

There is something about waiting for a bus with complete stranger(s) at the end of a long day that  just makes me want to thrust my hand forward and start a conversation and say let’s be friends.

Said no ISFJ named Kayla ever.

I surprised myself one day during a twenty-some minute bus-stop wait a couple of weeks ago.

The conversation started with cats.  Well, I didn’t mention exactly mention cats, but this nice man came walking down the sidewalk with a pile of books from what I assume to be the Re-Read bookstore across the street. Anyhow, I figured they were for his child or niece or nephew. The kid must like cats.

I notice insignificant minutia details like that all the time.

Anyhow this man dropped his pile of books and I helped him pick them up and whatnot. It’s always awkward going for long periods of time without striking up some sort of small talk, we talked about small-talkish things such as what’s the time and etc.

I didn’t expect to have a theological conversation. We talked about why we were riding the bus. He hadn’t had a car for a few years now he said and he didn’t see a reason why to go out and get a car.

My turn to share. I explained my predicament, how I’m legally not allowed to drive until I can manage to go six months free of seizure of any sort.

What he said next was EXACTLY the reminder I needed.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

It wasn’t at all critical or in a holier-than-thou tone. It was incredibly refreshing.It was a reminder that my God is so much bigger than any earthly obstacle.  God isn’t punishing me. He’s molding me and making me into something beautiful. He can make you beautiful too. 

-Kayla

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