Christian Blog: Irrevocably Beloved

For Jesus And For The Culture. . .Being Black, Christian and a Millennial In America

CHRISTIAN BOOKS TO READ THIS YEAR

Dear Reader: 

Christian books are a great way to grow in faith and learn more about God. If you want to start reading Christian books this year, here are some of the best ones that you should read.

– “The Shack” by William P. Young: This is one of the most popular Christian books that is loved by all Christians around the world. The book has sold over 15 million copies and has been translated into 50 languages. It tells a story about Mackenzie Allen Phillips who receives a letter from God inviting him to visit him at his home in the woods.

– “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel: This is one of the most compelling testimonies of faith ever published, which will make any skeptic think again about what they believe in and why they believe it. The book follows an investigative journalist as he sets out on a journey to disprove Christianity only to discover some amazing truths that point towards Jesus Christ being who he claimed he was – the Son of

-“The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian. It has been translated into more than 26 languages and sold more than 10 million copies.The book is about how a mother’s prayers can change her children’s lives, and it shows parents how to pray for their children in every area of their lives.

-“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book teaches parents how to communicate with kids through empathy, negotiation, and mutual problem solving in order to solve conflicts without yelling or punishment.

– “Women Evolve: Break up with Your Fears and Revolutionize your Life” by Sarah Jakes Roberts. This book is a spirit filled memoir reminding us that your path in life doesn’t change but evolves and God’s purpose for your life remains. 

– “Wholehearted Faith” by Rachel Evans This book discusses the importance of not being too hard on oneself when choosing to make a significant life changes.

– “Don’t Settle for Safe” by Sarah Jakes Roberts is a bold and often humorous call to action for believers to live full lives, free of fear.

– “You are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You” Jess Connelly is a love letter to all young women who ever felt their dreams were too big. It shares how she overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, insecurities, and roadblocks to become a leading voice in a generation.

– “The Word Before Work” by Jordan Raynor is a devotional helping remind us to surrender our plans and lives to God.

– “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Warren is an invitation to live a more meaningful life by recognizing and nurturing the sacred moments in our lives.

– “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in Secular World” by Henri Nouwen is Henri Nouwen’s spiritual autobiography focuses on the struggles he faced in his life and how he lived out the gospel. He discusses his upbringing, education, and early years as a priest. In this book, Nouwen describes how human beings are called to live in love, hope and faith despite the difficulties of life.

AND BY THE WAY IS where the name of this blog started. 

Woman Evolve: Break Up with Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life by Sarah Jakes Roberts

Dear Reader: 

Woman Evolve is a book that is written by Sarah Jakes Roberts. The book is about the role of women in Christianity and the evolution of women over time. The author discusses her own journey as a woman and how she has evolved over time.

The author talks about how Eve was originally created to be subservient to Adam but through the years, Eve has gained more power and control over her life. She also talks about how God has been evolving as well, with His thoughts on what women should do evolving with time.

The book also talks about how there are still many issues that need to be addressed such as the wage gap between men and women, sexual harassment in the workplace, and sexual abuse in general.

In Woman Evolve, author and pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts shares her thoughts on how faith has shaped her life. From being a woman to overcoming adversity and finding a purpose in life, this memoir discusses what it’s like to grow up in the church and how one becomes a woman of God. Woman Evolve is also a beautifully written memoir that tells the story of Sarah’s life. The book opens with a brief description of what it was like to grow up in the church and how she came to find herself as a woman through conversations with her pastor parents. As she continues on, she shares her struggles and triumphs that brought herself to this point in life, where she has found peace through faith—even when surrounded by chaos.

If you haven’t read this book, I hope this encourages you to pick it up. If you’ve already read this book, how has reading it helped you? 

Simple Tips for a Fit and Healthy Winter

Dear Reader: 

Hey there! Now that winter is in full swing, it’s time to buckle down and get serious about staying fit. For some of us, that means hitting the gym harder than ever. But for others, it might mean trying a new workout routine or signing up for a fitness class. No matter what your approach is, we’ve got some tips to help you stay fit this season. So let’s get started!

Get a jump start on your day by going for a morning walk or run

Nothing quite compares to the feeling of getting a jump start on your day with some exercise in the morning. Not only is it great for your physical health, but studies have shown that regular exercise can improve mood, sleep quality, and overall cognitive functioning. Going for a morning walk or run has many benefits – you get a dose of fresh air and exposure to sunlight which can naturally boost energy levels. It’s also a good time to zone out and let your mind wander – coming up with creative ideas or solutions for any problems weighing on you. Morning walks or runs can help to clear the cobwebs from the night before, allowing you to approach the day refreshed and energized. And to top it off, squeezing in some exercise first thing gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment! All in all, there are so many reasons why starting your day with a walk or run might just be one of the best decisions you make each morning.

Join a winter sports team to stay active and social

As the temperatures drop, it can be easy to retreat indoors in hibernation mode and ignore your physical activity goals. But don’t let Old Man Winter slow you down! Joining a winter sports team is a great way to stay active, even in the coldest months of the year. An organized team provides structure and accountability for players who are looking for motivation to stay on track with fitness goals. Plus, playing with a sports team gives you access to network with people from different backgrounds and experiences, which can help open up doors for professional opportunities or develop new friendships. And of course, there’s nothing like cheering on your teammates and celebrating victories as a collective unit — especially when you’re bundled up against brisk winds! From skiing to hockey to basketball and beyond, there are plenty of winter sports that can keep you active and social during the chillier months of the year. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and join that dream winter sports team this season!

Invest in some at-home workout equipment so you can stay fit even when it’s cold outside

Staying fit during the cold weather can be an uphill battle. With the shortened days and longer nights, it’s tempting to stay in and veg out on the couch. However, investing in some home workout equipment is a great way to stay active all winter long. Not only will you save money on gym memberships and fitness classes, but you’ll also enjoy being able to get your sweat on anytime, day or night! Look for items that are multi-functional, such as adjustable weight benches with built-in racks so you can customize your workouts from the comfort of your own home. You could also consider buying kettlebells, resistance bands, or jump ropes for a full-body workout without having to leave your house. In addition to saving time and money, exercising at home is a great way to stay motivated even when temperatures start to drop. So don’t let winter keep you from staying fit – invest in some quality at-home workout equipment today!

Make healthy food choices – focus on fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean giving up all your favorite foods. Making small changes in your diet can lead to big improvements in your overall health – and it’s not as hard as it sounds! To get started on the path to healthier eating, focus on adding more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your diet. Fruits and veggies make delicious snacks and sides and provide essential vitamins and minerals for keeping bodies strong. Lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, or beans are great options for adding protein without excess fat or calories. When making meals at home, try experimenting with flavorings like herbs or spices so you don’t get bored with your dishes. Eating out? Ask for a lighter version of your go-to dish; many restaurants now offer healthier options like salads and grilled proteins. Making smart choices when it comes to food doesn’t have to be dull; a little creativity can go a long way toward creating tasty meals that are both nutritious and satisfying! , And soon you’ll find yourself swapping out unhealthy habits for new ones in no time! Making healthy food choices means treating yourself right – after all, nutrition is an important part of self-care.

Avoid sugary drinks and snacks that will only make you feel sluggish

Many of us turn to sugary snacks and sodas for a quick energy boost. But, unfortunately, these processed foods are just empty calories that end up leaving us feeling more sluggish than ever. It’s important to remember that too much sugar can be toxic to the body, especially when combined with alcohol and caffeine. Even natural sugars like honey and agave should be consumed in moderation, as an occasional treat or reward. Instead of sugary beverages or snacks, opt for healthy alternatives such as water, unsweetened smoothies or teas, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. These options contain healthy carbohydrates that will give you sustained energy throughout the day while also providing essential vitamins and minerals. Making smarter snack choices will not only help maintain your weight but also leave you feeling energized so you can focus on your work or other activities. So next time you’re looking for a pick-me-up, reach for healthier fuel instead of sugary treats!

Keep moving even when you’re inside – take the stairs instead of the elevator, and do some light stretching throughout the day

Whether you’re stuck inside due to the weather or, due to the pandemic, stuck inside most of the time anyway, it’s important not to neglect your physical movement. Every little bit counts and helps maintain both physical and mental health. Take the stairs instead of relying on elevators – if possible, two at a time! But if that’s too much for your current fitness level, don’t choose several steps over quality and take one step at a time. Moving your body for just 10 minutes a day can up your energy levels, improve circulation, and provide some cardiovascular benefits. Going for a stroll is always beneficial but if that’s not an option due to restrictions (or it’s just too darn cold outside!), try light stretching throughout the day. Find yourself an open space in the house and stretch your arms above your head from side to side and do gentle chair squats periodically – these will help reduce cramps and stiffness caused by period ended periods. It’s all about consistency – no matter what type of movement you decide on doing. Give it a few days/weeks and almost subconsciously you’ll find yourself drawn to boosting your daily fitness regime without having to think too hard about it! So why not give it a go? All of us couch potatoes need our dose of incentive once in a while – whether we stay inside or venture outside! So keep moving even when you’re inside – leave laziness behind! You won’t regret it. 😉

By following these simple tips, you can stay active and healthy all winter long! Start your day off right with a morning walk or run, then make sure to eat healthily and get in some at-home workouts. And finally, keep moving even when you’re inside – take the stairs instead of the elevator, and do some light stretching throughout the day. By making small changes to your daily routine, you can stay fit and feel great all season long!

WRITE THE VISION

Dear Reader:

Habakkuk 2:2-3 states “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

I know this is not the first time you’ve heard this verse in relation to the beginning of a new year. It is standard practice for almost everyone, no matter culture, religion, or creed to start their year off by writing down what they envision the new year to look like. We either focus on what we want to improve about ourselves (weight, appearance, talent, skills, etc) or our ideals (family, better home, etc). What does the bible have to say about this practice? I believe that vision is a biblical concept.  However, we cannot just merely willy-nilly dream. 

HOW TO BEGIN VISION PLANNING

  1. The first step in your process of writing the vision needs to be reflection. What happened in 2022? What worked? What didn’t? Why didn’t it work? What spheres of life declined and which prospered?  Before you can start to plot and plan, you should prayerfully journal and reflect upon the previous year. 

My biggest challenge of 2022 was moving. Living in a new place can disrupt everything you know about yourself, your faith, your family, etc. I was very much disrupted by the change in the workplace, routines, etc. My biggest challenge of 2022, however, also lead to my biggest triumph: I learned to drive.  Like for real. Multiple hours of driving. Not a lot of young people who grow up in the 5 boroughs of NY can say that they’re good drivers and take road trips. Having to drive for work made me by force a better driver. 

  1. The second step after reflection is really just to imagine. Having reflected and prayed, what would you and God (the dream team) like to happen in 2023? Do you want to grow in your profession?  Do you want to make some money off a hobby? Do you want to be more connected to your family? Are there one or two particular spheres of life that call out to you more for the vision? 

I know it’s lame and very encouraged in secular circles, but I think vision boards are cool. I think that they present a visual reminder as to the vision for the year.  Vision boards are very debated in Christian circles. But let’s go back to Habakkuk. The above verse is talking about a time when the people Habakkuk was instructed to write the vision for were not following the will of God and Habakkuk was pretty frustrated. I’m not asking you to create a vision board to “Manifest” anything. I’m asking you to create a visual reminder of your covenant with God for the year 2023. In the same way we take communion often to remind us that Jesus died for us and that we bear the responsibility of the new covenant with him. 

  1. WRITE THE VISION. You have to write it out in words. There are many many verses in the Bible that talk about the power of words. (James 3:2-12, Proverbs 11:9 to name a few).  There are many people who perhaps cannot write out the words because of disability but if you are able to… put pen to paper. WRITE IT OUT.

The vision that Habakkuk was writing out was death to Babylonians who had captured his people. Maybe that’s not the theme you’re going for … contend with those who contend with me, Lord. Maybe you just need to learn Spanish for work. Lol.  Write it down. 

  1. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Not all of the vision needs to be shared with others. Some of it might need to be, like if you’re married and you vowed with God to do something that directly impacts your spouse. But some matters need to be held in a secret place for God to water it in secret. 

The Story of Christmas 

Dear Reader:

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here,  but I felt that December wouldn’t be complete without discussing at least a little bit of the story of Jesus. While scholars are certain Jesus wasn’t born in winter, it is the time we chose to commemorate this occasion, so I will discuss it nonetheless. 

THE GOSPEL STORY

The story of the “good news” , often call the gospel can be summed up as follows: Christ was born. Lived. Died. Resurrected. And is Coming Again. These are the basic tenets of Christianity. 

BORN

The born part is the Christmas story. The account is in all four gospels : Luke 1 and 2; Matthew 1 and 2; John 1 and Mark 1. It is important to note that while there are differences in the gospels that they begin with the birth. I’m sure if I was entrusted with telling the story of Jesus, I might start with his miracles or maybe the resurrection. But the gospels begin with Jesus, the baby. 

Matthew and Luke talk about the birth story in more detail than the other gospels. I mean Luke gives all the details, starting with how his birth was foretold.  Matthew talks of the wise men who wisely avoided reporting to Herod. 

To sum it up, Mary was in a perilous position. Joseph was a good guy. Baby Jesus was already most wanted in utero. And somehow they all made it as a family unit because it was the will of God. 

I don’t purport to know a whole lot about God’s will because I think the whole point is we don’t know what it is. However, it is a strange story. 

SO WHAT?

I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, coming from a family of old school Seventh-day Adventists. The first time I celebrated was with friends as an adult. And the first time I attended a Christmas service was with friends as an adult. Christmas was a spectacle. 

And after thinking on it, the birth of Jesus was also quite a spectacle. A Virgin birth? Unheard of… highly unlikely in any age… the son of God? Oh really?! It just seems implausible and boy does the story continue in a weird way as well! Water into wine? Rose from the grave?

It is precisely the scandalous nature of the gospel that makes it so potent. It challenges the status quo. It breaks up reason. The idea is  that what we see with our eyes is not all there is and that there exists a power inside of us that can change the world… and has already done so.  That is the good news.