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Not Just Another Book About Shame & Overcoming Your Past

Is “Unashamed” just another book in a sea of self-help books? Or is it really worth a read? If you can’t seem to move forward or need something highly practical to help you deal with your past or beat your struggles with shame, this book offers excellent examples and precise strategies of what you can do differently.

This book is highly recommended if:

  • You can’t get rid of persistent thoughts that lead to feeling doubt, fear, insecurity, bitterness, offense, discouragement, negativity, anxiety and/or anger.
  • You experience painful emotions on an on-going basis.
  • You do well for a while; but then you hit a wall.
  • You overcome one hurdle, but then something new comes along to deal with and you feel like you’re right back where you started.
  • You feel a lot of guilt and/or could be holding onto unforgiveness.
  • You really do struggle to trust God no matter how hard you try.
  • Your lifestyle is pulling you away from God instead of towards Him.
  • You don’t like yourself.
  • You find yourself wondering how other people can be so positive when they go through trials and suffering.
  • You know you’ve messed up some significant relationships.
  • You don’t believe you can ever get over what you’ve been through.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

This is a book to read with a notebook and a pen.

This is a book to let someone know you’re reading so you can be held accountable to follow its many rich suggestions. Even better – read it with a friend, wise counsel, or a group.

This is a book to ask the Lord to use as a tool to bring about change.

“Lord…let me never be ashamed.” Psalm 31:1b

How Many Apologies Does It Take?

So you’ve messed up and apologized. You only owe one apology per offense, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the person you wronged is commanded to be quick to forgive you, but some cases can be better resolved after multiple apologies. Likewise, several layers of apologies may be helpful to restore intimacy.

As a Christian, you are not condemned. So, if you’re feeling unsettled even after you’ve apologized, you’ll want to proceed prayerfully to know if the Lord is prompting a next-level apology…or to see if this idea is actually coming out of wrong reasons such as people-pleasing, co-dependency issues, false guilt, etc.

If someone is coming to your mind right now and you’re wondering if you need to apologize again (or maybe even apologize when you’re the one who is owed an apology), the following exercise can help guide you.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*Is the Lord speaking to your situation through these apologetic scenarios?

“So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). There’s room here for the possibility that the one at the altar could extend a previous apology, yet it lack enough depth or sincerity for the brother to release the grievance.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Mt. 18:15, 16). There’s room here for the possibility that a brother might only offer a half-apology and not agree when being asked for a more complete apology.

“…you were grieved into repenting…” (2 Cor. 7:9). There’s room here for the possibility that as they grieved, the repentant ones became increasingly sorry, maybe even apologizing once more. There’s also room here for the possibility that during the grieving period the offended can be struggling to forgive; but once a fresh apology is delivered, forgiveness comes easier.

 *Does this basic truth resonate?

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There’s room here for the possibility that an apology you previously gave – before you knew Christ – doesn’t feel sorrowful enough to you now, and you want to do it again.

*Do any of these foundational commands apply?

“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mk. 12:30). There’s room here for the possibility that the more of you that loves God, the more you’re able to hear Him telling you to do a better job apologizing.

 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). There’s room here for the possibility that with a renewed mind, you think differently about the situation and can apologize with a clearer perspective now.

 “…continue to work out your own salvation…” (Phil. 2:12). There’s room here for the possibility that the more you live out your salvation, the more regretful you’ll feel about your sin towards another, leading you to a more deep and sincere level of apology.

*Still not sure?

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Carry out this act of grace…for the glory of the Lord…” (Jas. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:19). There’s room here for the possibility that if you’re being led to offer someone another apology – and it’s coming from a humble place in your heart – then God is being glorified by you!

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” – Can you trust this book?

The New York Times Best Seller is everywhere. But is it a scam offering empty promises? And is it a good idea for Christians to be reading a pretty hardcover about magic?

Life-Changing Magic

Biblical Starting Point:

There are at least three arguments in favor of this secular publication being used to bring about change for a Christian.

  • It’s based on a foundation of changing your mindset. After all, you have been commanded to be transformed by the renewal of your minds; of course testing the facts according to God’s Word so that you may discern if it’s God’s will. (Ps. 119:9; Rom. 12:2)
  • It’s actually focused on not laying up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, giving you a better chance to lay up treasures in heaven. (Mt. 6:19-20)
  • It’s another opportunity to bring God glory. In whatever you do, word or deed, you are called to do in His name. (Col. 3:17)

Outcomes:

  • Your brain has probably never thought about your stuff the way this author presents it. And all the ways you’ve tried to systemize in the past didn’t work for a good reason.
  • Once you get started, looking at your new living spaces may energize you so much that you will not want to stop.
  • If you welcome these perspectives, you lower your risk of relapse into your old ways. You won’t be so bad about losing things anymore either. The concepts are unforgettable and the method is effective.
  • Having a tidy home can help you better live out your values.
  • This de-cluttering event (it’s not a process) encourages you to create and maintain a lifestyle vision that is true to who you were made to be.
  • By consistently applying these concepts, you improve your decision-making and problem-solving abilities, which can increase your confidence in managing clutter.
  • You can sort out which of your belongings you are inappropriately attached to and why.
  • It can really impact how much you purchase in the future, saving you money and time.
  • Putting your house in order helps you have a better idea of who you are and what you are about.
  • Being organized with your inventory restructures your time in the future so you can draw near to the Lord, improve your relationships, and achieve personal growth.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Push past any initial feelings of dread, stress, or skepticism about this project so you can receive the benefits of being incredibly organized with what you own.

You don’t have to be afraid or be turned off by the marketing or hard sell of this book. Allow the Father to bring you freedom in fresh and unexpected ways.

Don’t be alarmed that the writer shares her cultural and pagan beliefs. Simply pray as you read, and let the Holy Spirit translate her fallacies into truth for you. Think about the Mediterranean diet. You have learned from the Europeans that olive oil and lean meats and fish are healthy, but that doesn’t mean you vacation at nudist beaches. It’s the same here. You can benefit from her ways of thinking about tidying, while you guard against absorbing any of her idolatrous ways.

It’s ok that this kind of change is not so much gradual as it is swift. Sometimes God really shakes things up.

Celebrate the fact that you can learn from a non-Christian teaching when you first filter it through your Biblical worldview, and then use it honorably for your Lord.

Enjoy the results!

Deciding to Decide

Are you struggling to create a new routine or to find lasting change in a particular area?

One blogger offers a fresh perspective on what you may be lacking:

“I used to get up every morning by 6am or sooner and I would be awake and ready to get out of bed. I was so regular for so long that I got to a point where I didn’t need an alarm anymore. Then our schedule changed, life happened, and I started staying up later or staying in bed longer and my body adjusted to the changes. I no longer wake up at 6am every morning or even have the slightest desire to get out of bed when I wake up.

Conceptually, I am ready to return to my early morning routine. And so I have started setting my alarm for 6am. Yet, every day I snooze it for an hour or more. I have come to realize that although I want to wake up early, I haven’t actually decided to take the action. I set my alarm and think the beeping noise will compel me to action I have not decided to take. That can work at times, but not for developing a habit. I have to set my alarm and decide that I will get up when it goes off.

The moment you decide to do one thing, you decide not to do another thing. Deciding to get up at 6am is deciding not to sleep in anymore.”

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

  1. There is a force aimed at sabotaging your success. Paul describes it like this: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)
  2. Will power is only going to get you so far. The key to your breakthrough is surrender, prayer, and divine power. “The prayer of a righteous person (someone who has received the righteousness of Christ) has great power…His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…so that you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (Js. 5:16; 2 Pet. 1:3-4)
  3. Use the season of Lent, which starts today, to give you a ritual to help you commit to your decision. “For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
  4. Once you decide, remind yourself what you know and what you’ve decided. “So you must also consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…Practice these qualities…recall these things.” (Rom. 6:7-11; 2 Pet. 1:8-15)

*To read Melanie Hardacker’s entire article about Deciding to Decide, click here.

A Simple Goal-Setting Exercise that leads to Results

It doesn’t matter if you make New Year’s Resolutions or refuse to have anything to do with such notions, it is natural to view the year ahead in terms of results or change. But, as you well know, merely having dreams, goals, or objectives doesn’t predict success. This year, try a more precise method.

Keeping Room Tips:

Sit down with a pack of index cards. On the top of each card write your desires, such as “eat healthier” “be more organized” or “improve my relationship with my sister.”

Spread it before the Lord. When King Hezekiah received a significant letter, “he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.” There’s a reason this event is included in the Bible. Literally spread your index cards out on the table and ask God to take a look.

Pray Scripturally. Then Hezekiah acknowledged to the Lord that he knew who He was, “the God alone of all the kingdoms of earth.” Do you recognize God’s divinity, sovereignty, and power, or do you forget Who your God really is?

List your tasks. Your broad index card headings might read something like “have better grades” or “be closer to the Lord.” Now you need detailed action steps. For example, what will you do differently in each subject to specifically improve your scores? Write it down. Or how will you prevent distraction from keeping you away from God’s Word so that you can develop spiritually? Find some colored pens and get specific. And make sure you consider where you could go wrong. Hezekiah recognized enemies and sins, asking God, “save us.”

Check it off. Draw a box to the side of each of your bullet points for future check marks, and don’t put these cards in a drawer somewhere. Leave them in sight where you can pray over them every day. When it becomes a habit for you to “eat 4 vegetables a day” or “only make uplifting comments to your brother” etc. then you know you can fill in the box for that item and thank the Lord for the way He has moved in you to help you reach more of your potential. And you too will see that the Lord is “God alone.”

(2 Kings 19:14-19)

How to Experience Real Transformation in Your Life

While some Christians tell a dramatic “before and after” story, you may describe your faith-life as “not where I used to be, but still not where I want to be.” But have you been staring at “not where I want to be” for far too long? You’re a Christian after all, so where is your miraculous change?

Biblical Starting Point:    

The change that awaits you is…

  • …in your head. Man really does equal his thoughts. (Prov. 23:7, Amp; Rom. 12:2)
  • …found in wanting to know the will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
  • …empowered by the Holy Spirit. (1 Sam. 10:6)
  • …requiring you to fully acknowledge your need. (Is. 29:16-19; 64, Msg.)

Keeping Room Tips:

  1. Conduct a thought analysis. What percentage of your self-analytical thoughts revolve around the world’s evaluation of your looks, relationships, or successes? In contrast, what ratio of your self-evaluative thoughts come from embedded Word moving through your brain uttering truths such as “Yes I am tempted, but the Lord will provide a way out” or “The One who calls me is faithful.” (Ps. 34:5; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24)
  2. Admit what it is you really want to know. Have your daily activities unintentionally sent God a message – that you are more interested in what’s trending on social media or what you feel like doing – than in discovering His Will? (Prov. 1:29)
  3. Log some serious hours with your God. Do you treat the Lord like He’s just the co-worker in the cubicle next to you, each of you minding your own business? Your internal temperature will turn up if you move your work-space into His; but by spending substantial time with Him, especially by reading and studying Scripture, you will look a lot more like who you want to be. (Is. 55:11; Heb. 12:29)
  4. Suit up. The world tries to downplay that you have an enemy who does not want you to be conformed to the image of Christ. For the next 9 days, read one verse a day starting at Ephesians 6:10 and ending with verse 18. With each one, revisit it periodically throughout its assigned day. Let these verses position you and teach you how to pray for protection.

Get ready – “where you want to be” is in sight!