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Thursday, May 26, 2016

How To Love Audaciously

If you've read some of my earlier posts, then you know that I started out this year with some pretty lofty goals for myself. I've managed to keep up with most of them, but one that has fallen slightly short is my reading. I have always loved reading. As a little girl I ate up every American Girl Doll book available. Then again, there were only six American Girl Dolls back then. I know, I'm old. Now there are probably two dozen, plus all the "design your own" and specialty dolls! It makes my poor, sweet, original Samantha doll seem, well, "vintage." Then I moved on to animal rescue stories, and stories about girls who loved horses. In my teenage years I loved historical fiction, Shakespeare, the Left Behind series, and Frank Peretti. Yes, my taste has always been eclectic.

As an adult, my tastes have slowly turned more towards the classics, such as Jane Austen, and women's encouragement literature (my personal classification for self-help books for Christian women). I've got so many books at home that I'm out of shelves and the shelves I do have are sagging under the weight of every last novel, biography, and Bible study I've ever owned. I can't part with them. I think back to books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Book Thief in which books were precious commodities to be cherished, and I just can't let go. I want my kids to know the real feeling of turning pages and smelling that just-cracked-binding smell that I've learned to love. I know they'll probably roll their eyes at me, their painfully old-fashioned mom, and point at what will probably be a small pile of Kindles charging in the corner. Nevertheless, my children will appreciate books if I have anything to say about it.

That being said, I just don't have as much time to read anymore as I'd like. Nowadays I'm lucky to catch a few pages in the bath or before bed or, yes I'm not ashamed to admit it, on the toilet. That doesn't change the fact that I love it and continue to buy books like they're going out of style. Partially because they are. The day Barnes & Noble goes under I will have to observe a very real period of mourning. So, I'm renewing my determination this month to read at least one book per month. It's the end of May, and so far this year I've read three books, if you count those I've been using for my women's Bible study, otherwise

But let me tell you what, that one book is a doozy! I don't know that I chose it so much as it chose me, or rather God smacked me across the face with it. I've actually read it all the way through TWICE now this year, that's how much I love it! That can count as two books this year, technically, right?! I read it through and loved it so much I had to go back and read it through again so I could highlight all the life-changing moments, which means it's now peppered with neon yellow paragraphs and dog-eared pages. This book spoke to me in a way that I haven't experienced in years. I could feel God working in my heart and revolutionizing my mind with every chapter. It has literally changed my life and the way I approach my relationship with God. So what is this magical book?!

Audacious, by Beth Moore

If you run in Christian circles for long, you will know the name Beth Moore. Her Bible studies have been changing lives for decades. Her latest installation, Audacious, does not disappoint! It's not her typical book either. Mrs. Moore usually digs into Scriptures focusing on topics like the lives of Biblical figures such as Esther, Daniel, and David. She has stirred hearts with toe-stomping studies like When Godly People Do Ungodly Things and Believing God. And she's pierced straight to our hearts with works like Breaking Free and So Long, Insecurity. But Audacious is different. Audacious is written as though you're sitting in Starbucks with Beth Moore herself and she's pouring her heart out to you. She's sharing her desire, "To see all women come to know and audaciously love Jesus Christ." 

First, she takes time to explain to you her choice of words. There are many words that could be used to describe the ideal relationship with Christ. Mrs. Moore chose audacious because it's not the first or even the tenth word that probably comes to mind, and yet it perfectly epitomizes what our relationship should look like to the rest of the world. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it this way:
audacious, adjective
[Middle French audacieux, from audace boldness, from Latin audacia, from audac-, audax bold, from audere to dare, from avidus eager...]
1. a: intrepidly daring: ADVENTUROUS
b: recklessly bold: RASH
2. contemptuous of law, religion, or decorum: INSOLENT
3. marked by originality and verve

Ignoring the second definition and focusing solely on the first and third definitions...can you imagine if our love for Christ was intrepidly daring, adventurous, and marked by originality and verve?! The world would be changed in so many ways. And the amazing thing about this concept is that you don't have to be an extrovert or social butterfly to make it work. Beth Moore admits that even she would often rather stay at home with a hot cup of something and a good book. Having an audacious love for Christ simply means that you pursue Him passionately and in such a way that the world cannot fail to see His love through you. You can do that right where you are, whether you work professionally, stay at home, or are otherwise limited. God can and will use you if you will only love Him and pursue Him with an audacious love. 

Isn't that great?! It's so simple that it might seem almost silly to you. But I promise, there are so many foundational ideas in this book that will revolutionize your life if you allow them to. I had to go back and read it again just so that I could highlight them! It's a short book at only 178 pages, so it's a quick read too. If you're like me, however, you'll end the book both satisfied and yearning for more - more fellowship, more passion, more meat. It'll light a fire in your heart that has the promise of an audacious, eternal blaze if you're willing to continue fanning it. I personally feel empowered to be the woman God wants me to be, and I don't even have to leave home to do it (yet). Don't worry, I'm not going to turn into a cloistered nun or a happy hermit. It's just so liberating to know that I don't have to go outside of my house or look anywhere other than my worn old Bible to find audacious, passionate, exhilarating love. I could quote half the book to you at this point, but I won't do that to you. Instead, I will leave you with this quote (yes, I know it's long - hang in there!):

Full boldness [is], at the very same time, welcoming. That's how we're also meant to live, speak, and serve people. Boldness says that we don't see every little obstacle as some big hindrance. We're not too fragile to adapt and too finicky to accept. Boldness says that each circumstance is up for rent as an opportunity. What we're willing to do with the room we've been given is up to us. Boldness makes the best of it...Hopelessness is a liar. A convincing one. We offer it no welcome, no couch to rest upon, no meal to feast upon...
Because the eternal purpose of God was fully accomplished in Jesus, we are authorized, urged, exhorted, and expected to approach His throne with absolute boldness.
Confidently. Audaciously. Like we believe what He says. Like we receive what He's done. Like we accept who we are. Like we know what it took. The exorbitant price He paid for our access is worthy of nothing less. 
(Audacious, by Beth Moore; emphasis mine)


Read that again, chew on it for a moment, let it sink into the very depths of your heart and mind. The God of the universe, the same God who set the stars in place and knows every hair on your head, paid the ultimate price - an ugly, brutal, evil death on a Roman cross - for YOU to be able to have a relationship with Him. How can we afford not to pursue it with audacity and fiery passion?! He demands and deserves nothing less than a love that consumes every last microscopic iota of our being.

I encourage you to read this book and join me in pursuing God with an audacious love. Do you dare?

Hapless but hopeful,

Ps - Stay tuned for more book reviews in the coming months! These books are next up on my list:

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