Ever since I met Bob Goff and read his first book, I could wait for another book by him. I was all the more excited when I was able to get onto the launch team for this book. Unfortunately, circumstances in my life prevented me from reading and reviewing the book until now. But in the end, I was glad that I waited. So many of the themes of this book came just at the time I needed to hear it. The recent circumstances in my life have made certain people more difficult to love than others. But Bob’s storytelling has an incredible ability to help you see past yourself in order to help you live your live the way that Jesus would. It was exactly the challenge I needed at the time I needed it. Bob’s first book is in many ways about loving God, which is the summary of the greatest commandment. This second book is about loving people, which is the second greatest commandment. Both books can stand alone, but they are all the more powerful together. I cannot recommend this book or Love Does enough ~ Bethel
There are many people we encounter in our lives that are not easy to love. The reasons for our struggles with loving them is just a numerous. But at the end of the day, our greatest struggle is loving difficult people is learning to see past ourselves. The things that we need to do in order to show them love require us to step out of our comfort zone and take action. That is usually easier said than done. And unfortunately, most people don’t. We tend to push away those that need love most. This is the pattern set by the people around. It makes us ask the question: is there a way to love difficult people in our world today?
In his book, Everybody Always, Bob Goff uses his popular storytelling style to share personal stories that can help us learn to love those that seem impossible to love. Bob shares stories of many people in his life that taught him and challenged him, most of whom were difficult to love. Either by personality or by the circumstances, Bob found ways to show love to everyone. From a neighbor dying of cancer, to his limo driver, to a witch doctor, the variety of people Bob encounters is both entertaining and inspiring. He never really preaches, but shares truth from God’s Word as it is portrayed in the stories from his life. This in turn challenges and inspires us to not be hindered by the patterns of love based on restrictions or contracts. This gives hope for us to show love to everybody always. This book is great read that will inspire and challenge anyone that is willing to take its message to heart. If you liked Love Does, you definitely want to check out Everybody Always. Get your copy today!
Note: A huge thank you to my launch team friend Bailey for paying for my copy of this book. She offered to help me get the book when I was unable to afford it at the time it came out. This act of kindness was very much a demonstration of the message this book is about. Thank you loving a person you’ve never met Bailey. I will always be grateful for you when I think about this book.
My mom had talked about Chapman’s original book about the five love languages since I was young. But it was only recently that I discovered that there was a version written specifically to single adults. When I found out about it, I was so excited to read it. When I finally got it, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two days. These concepts about love languages are something that every person needs to read. But I believe it’s especially significant to learn this in your singles years, because it will build into any future dating relationships and in marriage. I absolutely recommend this to any of my single friends, and for anyone that isn’t single, there is probably an edition of this book written for you. Do a little research and get it. You won’t regret it ~ Bethel
Love is expressed is many different ways, but these expressions don’t always mean the same thing to different people. Something that is meaningful to one person may not be to another. This can make it hard for us to figure out how to best express love. This doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. This can make things difficult for all relationships: family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, roommates, and the list could go on. It’s so hard to know how to relate well to each other when we struggle to express love in a way that others can relate to. This can seem to be an especially hard struggle for single adults, especially those who haven’t ever been married. It makes us ask the question: how can I learn to love others better as a single adult?
In his book, The 5 Love Languages (Singles Edition), Gary Chapman walks us through the five “languages” in which all human communicate love, and how singles can apply these love languages to all relationships in our lives. Some feel most loved through words of affirmation. Some feel and express love best through receiving or giving gifts. Some feel most loved through acts of service. Some feel loved through spending quality time with those they care about. And some feel and express love best through physical touch. Out of each of these languages, everyone has a primary love language in which makes them feel the most loved. But understanding and learning to communicate all five are important for us to find ways to love others more. Chapman walks through what these love languages look like lived out with parents and siblings, as well as those that may be looking toward romantic relationships in the future. He also talks about relating to roommates, classmates, and coworkers. He even walks through single parents loving their children better. All of this is presented in friendly and relevant writing style that anyone can understand. These truths about love languages are profound, especially in a day and age when we are quick to make things about ourselves. But this book is a great tool to help us reach out beyond our own love language into the other languages so that we can love others the way that Christ did. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is currently single, or anyone who wants to figure out how to relate to singles better. If you don’t fit into those categories, there is probably an edition of this book written for you. Get your copy today!
* I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review
Teen Rating. This book could be read by a teen, but the main reason I am giving this rating is because there is a teen edition of this book that I would recommend they check out before this one. Although it doesn’t discuss anything inappropriate, I personally think this book is better saved for those that are college-age or older
I was standing alone in the youth room of my church. Or at least it was my church. That room was where I had taught many lessons and played many games with the church’s junior and senior high students for over a year. That room had been one of my favorite places. But now, it was a reminder of what I was about to face. In only about 15 minutes, I was going into a meeting with the church’s elders. Under other circumstances, this would not have been a big deal. I had known most of those men for several years and considered them to be friends of my family. But now it was different, because four days earlier, these men dismissed my dad as senior minister of the church after 17 ½ years.* The reason for the meeting was to see if I would be allowed to finish the school year with the youth group that my ministry partner and I had dedicated over a year of volunteer time to build up. I had so many emotions running through my heart and my mind, I didn’t know what to make of it.
This scene happened only a few months ago. I do believe that it has become one of the defining moments of my life. I believe I will still think that 20 or 30 years from now. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, because the pain of the loss and separation were so fresh. But by God’s grace I walked into that meeting and was granted my request. The only stipulation they gave is that they wanted to make sure I would get plugged into another church, since they figured it would be too difficult to attend with them on Sunday mornings. When I told them I had a plan to look at churches in the area, they all stated how much they appreciated my willingness to come to the meeting and finish the work I had started, despite the difficulties of my circumstances.
Some of my friends or members of that congregation have questioned why I chose to stay a little longer or how I could bring myself to even go to that meeting. Some of you who are reading this post may be wondering the same thing. But as I have looked back on the last few months, I have come to realize that I began to find healing faster because I chose to face a painful situation head on instead of hiding from it. It’s something that author Levi Lusko coined as “running toward the roar” in his book Through the Eyes of a Lion [click link to read my review]. Facing that meeting changed everything for me, and I want to share about three things that have happened in my life because God gave me the power to “run toward the roar.”
I Learned How to Forgive Despite My Feelings
The night after my dad told me he had been let go, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I turned on a movie that addresses the issues of loss and forgiveness. Amish Grace is a film based on the true story about the Amish school shooting of 2006, in which a local milk truck driver in Pennsylvania entered a one-room school house with an arsenal of guns. He let all the boys and the teacher go, but took ten girls hostage. He eventually shot all ten girls before taking his own life. In the end, 5 of the 10 girls died within 24 hrs of the shooting, and the others survived with serious injuries. Obviously, it was a devastation to the Amish community, but they responded in ways that the world did not expect. In the film (which was slightly fictionalized), you see some Amish elders, including Gideon, a father who had lost his daughter, go the wife of the shooter to consul her and tell her that they had chosen to forgive Charlie, later that same day. The rest of the Amish community seems to support this decision to forgive, except for Gideon’s wife. Ida cannot let go of her anger, believing that choosing to forgive was betraying her daughter. She takes out her anger on the shooter’s wife when she runs into her. Ida is so bitter, she even makes plans to leave her Amish community and taking her surviving daughter away from her husband.
But the most powerful part of the film for me is at the end. Right before she plans to leave, Gideon asks Ida to go to a group meeting with a grief counselor, which would include other Amish parents that had lost children and the wife of the shooter, Amy. The audience learns that Amy is in the same place as Ida, not knowing how to forgive her husband for what he did to the Amish girls, and what he did to her and their children. At this point, an Amish mother who had lost two daughters shared a thought that I don’t know if I will ever forget. It was exactly what I needed to hear after everything that happened:
Every morning when I wake, I expect to hear Anna and Lydia singing together as they do their chores. But the silence reminds me that they’re gone, and I become so full of anger, I can barely breathe. But then I offer that anger up to God and I forgive. Sometimes, I have to do it again in an hour, and again an hour after that. But if I didn’t do that, I don’t know how I would ever breathe again.
As I was lying in my bed at 5 am still unable to sleep, I knew that kind of forgiveness, the kind that would compel most of that Amish community to attend the shooter’s funeral, or the kind that compelled Ida’s daughter to tell the man about to shoot her that she would pray for him, was the kind I had to challenge myself to have, no matter how painful it would be. So when I finally sat down with the elders, this is what I told them:
Just like they say love is not a feeling but a decision, I believe that forgiveness is a decision we sometimes have to make despite our feelings. I have been very hurt by what has happened and I am still healing, but I want you all to know that I have made the decision to forgive you.
It was difficult to say, but I said it, even with tears in my eyes. I said it because I was compelled to demonstrate the same grace that I would hope someone would show me, the same grace that we all want but never deserve on our own merit. The same grace we can only receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We all need grace, but we struggle to give grace. We get so caught up in the guilty party’s offense that we cannot see past ourselves. But the sacrifice of Jesus was an offer of grace for every person who accepts it and then shapes their life in response to it. We don’t get to pick and choose who receives God’s grace, and neither should we. Part of dying to ourselves, as we are called to do by Christ, is choosing to give grace to anyone in our lives that is difficult to love or forgive. I hope that sharing this story will help you learn to do the same thing.
I Found a New Calling In the Midst of My Healing
Most of my friends know that since I started high school, I’ve wanted to become a music minister or worship director. In fact, I could have told you my plan the day I started high school. From then until I graduated from college in 2014, I never deviated from that plan. But when I was completing my music ministry internship the spring before I graduated, it became apparent that some gaps in my proficiency and personal training would prevent for pursuing music ministry after I graduated. I was so confused. I had pursued God’s calling as faithfully I knew how and I was still unable to devote my career to ministry. As a result, I really struggled with what I should do with my future when I moved back home. Although I was involved in music ministry, I wasn’t getting paid, and went back and forth from being in leadership to just being a participant. I struggled to find a job. Any job. It was a very difficult and uncertain time.
But I didn’t realize what God was doing behind the scenes to prepare me for something greater. Just as circumstances required me to take a step back from leading in music ministry again, an opportunity opened up for myself and a deacon to take over leadership of the youth ministry. In some ways, it surprised me. Although I had been a youth sponsor in college, I hadn’t really been involved in organizing a youth group. But I believed it was a need I could fulfill with Todd, so we jumped into it. We did what we could to teach but also have fun with our teens. It wasn’t easy, even for Todd who has youth ministry training, but after about a year, we really began to see great things happened in our group. We began to see growth in our numbers and in their understanding of their faith. Todd and I were both excited about what God had in store for our group in 2018.
But at the end of January, everything changed overnight. When my dad was let go, I was immediately afraid of what would become of the youth group if I would not allowed to return in light of what had already been planned for the spring. Only a few days later, I was given permission to finish out the school year. But the few days in between when I didn’t know were some of most emotionally trying days I’ve ever faced. After that was said and done, I came to realize how much I cared about our students and how much I had been devoted to the ministry. It made me think that maybe I could find a future in doing this kind of work as a job. Only about 3 weeks later, we took our Jr. High students to a youth conference in Cincinnati. Over that weekend, Todd and I had some honest conversations about the direction I was going with my life in regards to ministry. By the end of that weekend, I came to a major decision:
I want to become a youth minister
Some of you that have known me for a while might be shocked to hear me say this. Honestly, I’m still kind of shocked to be saying it. But as I look back over all of my ministry experiences, I now recognize that God was preparing my heart to work with students when I wasn’t looking. I attended a Jr. high conference at as sponsor my senior year of high school. I helped with a large Jr. high girls lock-in with a local Christian venue my freshman year of college. I spent about a year and half in college (minus the summers) working with my brother-in-law’s youth group, including teaching Jr. high Sunday school. When I was on my internship, I taught in a high school small group since my cousin was the youth minister. Before I officially became a youth leader, I had already lead two girls Bible studies and had attended a few youth conferences as a sponsor. It ends up adding up to a total of about 4 years I have spent volunteering in youth ministry. It all happened when I wasn’t looking, because God was subtly guiding me to a different future than I saw for myself. It’s something I would have never considered a year ago, or even 6 months ago. But God used my ability to trust Him during a painful trial of my life to help me find my new calling. I believe He can for you too.
I Found Healing Through A Surprising Friendship
I have said this before and I will say it again: community is an indispensable part of the Christian life, especially when we are going through trials. But unfortunately, most people don’t treat it like it is. In my post “Why This Millennial Isn’t Leaving the Church,” I mentioned my high school friend who claimed that because he was enrolled in a Christian school, he didn’t need to go to church. But in the end, he walked away from the faith when he left the school a year later. Adapting this kind of mentality is not just wrong, but it is dangerous, especially if you are going through personal struggles. The Christian life was not meant to be done alone, and this has been proven to me so clearly over the last few months. The day after my dad lost his job, many of the friends went out of their way to see how I was doing. Some would eventually invite me over to their house to spend time with them just so I could talk. Many of my friends have gone above and beyond to make sure there were they when I needed it. I am so grateful to each and every person who has been there for me through this difficult season. But in the end, the friend who has been there for me the most was not one of my girlfriends or even a friend my own age, but it was my ministry partner.
I clearly remember talking to him on the phone the night after my dad was let go. I could hear the sympathy in his voice. He expressed genuine concern for myself and my family, since he is also a good friend of my dad’s. He wanted to support whatever decision I made. But what I remember the most clearly is when I told him the elders were planning to meet with me. His first words were, “I need to be there.” There were several reasons he told me, but the real reason was that he did not want me going into that meeting alone. When the meeting came, he sat down next to me, listened to the plan I shared with the elders, and when the elders asked his opinion, he replied, “I’m just here for emotional support.” After the meeting, we walked out into the foyer and I asked him for a hug. I don’t know if I will ever forget that hug. In that moment, although I knew the next few months would not be easy, I knew that I would not be facing any of it alone.
I believe the God I serve is able to make something beautiful out of the broken. I choose to believe it, even when my feelings try to convince me otherwise. In some ways, He already has redeemed parts of what has happened to me and my family. But in other ways, when the pain is still difficult to face, I choose to believe that God will redeem all of it in His time. That brings me comfort and peace when it’s not easy to find. In the meanwhile, He promises to be ever-present in my pain. He knows my pain because He’s experienced pain. He doesn’t want me to experience it alone. He doesn’t want me to be paralyzed by my circumstances. He wants to use it to mold me into the image of His Son. That’s why we all have to learn to “run toward the roar.” Because that will be the best way for God to redeem our broken story.
[*Note: If you know the names of any of the people or places involved in this incident, please do not comment or share them. I still love and respect many people at my previous church. It is not my intention to demean the eldership or the church itself. I am just stating what happened as it impacted my life personally. Please respect my family’s privacy. Thank you]
This book has been on my review radar for a long time. I have always loved the work of Dannah Gresh, but had never read anything by Nancy DeMoss (crazy, right?). It wasn’t until they announced that were going to me updating this book that I finally found the motivation to sit down and read it. When I did, I was so compelled by its powerful truth. As an adult reading a book written to teens, I was challenged by lies I believed at that age and that I struggle to believe now. As a youth leader, I was moved to work towards debunking these lies for the girls I work with whenever I have the opportunity. Through all of it, I was inspired to see life through the lens of truth, which is the Word of God, and to encourage other young women to do the same. This updated edition will help a new generation of young women stand on God’s word as their source of truth and value. This book is a must read for every Christian girl by the time they reach high school ~ Bethel
Women today are bombarded with so many lies about their identity. But many of the lies they believe started to take hold of their lives in their teenage years. They disguise themselves as fact that we must embrace to be accepted, but when we pursue them, we find that we are just as unfulfilled and confused as we were before. This is all accomplished by the work of father of lies, who will do anything to keep you from learning and embracing the truth. It learns these girls in bondage to fear, anger, and loneliness. It makes us ask the question: how can we discover the truths that will set young women free?
In the book Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh walk through the lies that hold teen girls and young adult women in bondage, but then reveals the powerful truths that will set them free. These women walk through the nature of lies and the source of the lies: Satan, the deceiver. Then they walk through 25 different lies that they observed young women struggle to believe. Lies about everything from God and faith, to relationships, to our usage of media. They share stories of real young women and even share stories from their own lives to illustrate how these lies hold many young women captive. They speak to girls with the honest voice of loving conviction they need to hear in order to stand against the lies they’ve believe. But beyond identifying and addressing the lies, Nancy and Dannah also offer hope by sharing the truth that will set them free and giving practical ways for you to abolish the lies and embrace the truth in their own lives. The updated edition of this book brought many of the examples and illustrations up to date, which includes some new perspective from Nancy since she was married after the original release of the book. This book has power, a power to transform the next generation of young women into incredible tools that can be used for His kingdom. I give this book my highest recommendation to any teen girl about 13 or older. I also highly recommend this resource to any youth leader or youth pastor that works with teen girls. Get your copy today!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review
This blog post is an essay that I am planning to submit for a book being written about my alma mater, Ozark Christian College. They are collecting stories from 75 years of lessons learned from this school. Honestly, I feel like I could write a book about the lessons I learned while I was a student at OCC, but this is the one that was laid most heavily on my heart. I may write other essays like this in the future if others will find value in this. Maybe, you will see this essay in the book sometime soon. If any of you were a part of this community I’m talking about, thank you.
One of the lessons I learned throughout my time at Ozark was how to live out life in genuine Christian community. I remember being specifically taught during Spiritual Formation Retreat in January 2013 about how essential it is to live our lives in the context of the body of Christ. Before this retreat, I had not realized how important this concept is to our spiritual lives. Although there are several verses in Scripture that describe community or instruct us how to properly live in community, one verse stands out above the rest in my mind:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV84)
This verse seems to bookend my memories of community at Ozark in so many ways, especially my last two semesters.
We often rejoiced with those who rejoiced while I was at OCC. We would rejoice as a campus when we all received the text that informed us that classes were cancelled (usually because of snow), especially when it happened more than one day in a row. We would rejoice as a dorm floor when one of the girls announced she was engaged. We rejoiced over someone’s birthday (On Goodman 3rd [my dorm floor, also known as G3], this included writing affirmations for the birthday girl on the mirrors in the bathroom and decorating the door of their room with toilet paper). We rejoiced whenever someone hit a milestone in their Ozark career, like when they completed their Principles Project or their Theological Integration Paper. As a music major, we rejoiced when we completed juries, recitals, or the Living Christmas Tree. We rejoiced whenever someone had plans for their future confirmed. And we definitely rejoiced when we watched our friends receive their diplomas and graduate from OCC. In those moments, the joy was all the more genuine because it was mutual. In many of those moments, G3 even made the habit of singing Doxology as part of our rejoicing. This is because we saw God’s hand in the joy we shared.
But there were also moments that we mourned with those who mourned. We would help each other bear grief or get through difficult seasons of life, simply by being there for each other. Sometimes, you just needed someone to listen when things were getting difficult. Other times, you were the one that needed to do the listening and offer your shoulder to cry on. On G3, it seemed that if you were going through something, you could literally walk out into your hallway and walk into any room to ask for advice or comfort. Even if you may not have been super close, the girls on my floor would probably have dropped anything to help each other if they needed it. Some of those moments of turning to others for help were so beautiful and powerful. But there was one instance in which together, our whole campus learned what it truly means to mourn with those who mourn.
When our friend and fellow student Brandon Stuckey passed away in a car accident on February 6, 2013, we had the opportunity to live this out. Many of us stood outside of Boatman dorm for hours that night. We sang songs about comfort, peace, and heaven. We prayed for his family, his friends, and his dorm brothers on Boatman 3rd. But most importantly, we comforted each other in our tears. Even though we were all hurting from this loss, we declared together that we would trust the Lord, even in our grief. When we are bearing such extreme or sudden sorrow, we are called to cry with our brothers and sisters, to help bear the burden of their pain. Although that was one of the hardest nights on my life so far, I cherish the bittersweet memories of community. In fact, I remember that another student posted on Facebook, “Tonight, the term ‘Christian community’ was defined.” I agree.
[This is not part of the essay, but this video is a spoken word poem I just released this month about the experiencing of losing Brandon. It specifically talks about Christian community and mourning with those who mourn]
Because of these and other experiences, I believe that the term “Christian community” was defined not just that night, but throughout my whole experience at Ozark. Much of the other experiences I had fell somewhere in between the two extremes of sharing great joy and sharing extreme pain. But through all the highs and lows, I learned that the place where we find the best community is in the place where those that surround us are willing to identify with us, regardless of our current emotional state. Through that, we learned many of the other concepts about genuine community in Christ that are also listed in Romans 12, like be devoted to one another in brotherly love (vs. 10) or doing what we can to live at peace with everyone (vs. 18). We had the opportunities to live these out every day in the context of community in Christ. It was something that on one hand I loved while I was in school, and on the other hand I took for granted while I was a student, especially my first few years. After I went on Spiritual Formation Retreat, I made more intentional efforts to build community and to get to know more people on campus. And it made my experience my last two semester all the richer. I definitely missed that when I completed my internship my last semester as a student, but it also made me more intentional to seek out community at the church where I interned. This, again, make my experience all the richer.
As I remember the community we fostered at Ozark, I praise God that He brought me to OCC, so that I could learn what genuine community looks like. This way, I can help others seek it out for themselves, both within their own churches and within the body of Christ as a whole. I hope anyone else that reads this story will be inspired to do the same.
Living in the Redemption of the price Jesus paid for you and me.
My name is Bethel, and welcome to my site, Princess Worth Dying For, where I hope to share Christian reviews, Christian Spoken Word, and a Christian Insights on everything from modesty to musicals. My main focus on this blog is book reviews, and the main focus of my YouTube channel is spoken word, but I do crossover work with both.
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