Deeply Loved


Over the past month I’ve done I’ve done four posts reflecting on Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Deeply Loved; this post marks my final post on the book and my review of it.

Deeply Loved Cover

The book is described on the back by saying “Jesus Loves You.  That profound fact has been changing lives around the world for centuries.  Yet, there are days when you don’t experience this completely in your own life.  So how do you get to the very core of that statement on a deep personal level?…Using the gospel stories of Jesus, reflection, and personal stories, Kent will guide you through forty days of how to create space in your life for Jesus to show up and love you.  Deeply.”  Over the course of 40 days she then guides you through 40 different disciplines meant to draw you closer to Jesus, or, perhaps more accurately, allow you to open up so he can draw you closer to himself.  Either way you look at it, I have to say that having gone through the book I can testify that the disciplines Keri shares did help me re-focus my thoughts, attitudes, and even actions on Jesus.

Though I read the book over Lent (which happens to be 40 days), and I did so with others from around the country as part of a blog tour, I can also reassure you that it would be appropriate to read any time during the year.  Each entry is only 4-5 pages long, meaning you can read it in just a few minutes a day.  But as you close the book each day you’re left with profound thoughts and reflections you’ll spend days meditating on (literally!).  This truly is one of the few books I’ve read that I will go back and re-read multiple times simply because it’s had an impact on my life that can’t be easily put into words; it’s by far the best devotional book I’ve read in a long time.

I’ll give this book 5/5 stars, meaning you need to add it to your “must read” list, especially if you want to read a book to draw closer to Him.

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Rest


This past week was spring break from my classes (not work but school), and I made a conscious decision to not do any homework.  Now in all honesty that means I’m feeling a little behind right now, with a take-home mid-term, paper, and several chapters of reading due on Thursday, but I needed the break – we all did.  I was able to hang out with Melissa and just snuggle on the couch, play with the girls, and even take a nap.  It was….well, restful.

Deeply Loved Cover

As I’m working through Deeply Loved by Kerri Wyatt Kent I’ve been meditating all week on one particular chapter (I read it Tuesday): Hurry.  (This is actually post #2 on the book, so to read #1 click here)  The thing I loved about this particular chapter is that she acknowledged the busyness of life without making me feel guilty for it, though she did challenge me to evaluate it and reflect on it differently.  She shared the following metaphor from a friend who was busy.  The metaphor compared our lives to a jar of river water all shaken up.  She commented that we need to “sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”  Wyatt goes on,

[This} is what the jar of water teachers us.  We must be willing to show up, and be still – and let [God] work.  Just letting go of control – to stop trying so hard – is, ironically, the hardest thing to do.

She draws a distinction between “busy” and “hurry” that I’ve never before contemplated, but which has given me pause this week to consider.  Busy, she writes, is an “outward reality – what we do”; it’s what I feel sometimes at work.  But “hurry is an inner reality – how we think, the angst we feel when we are overwhelmed by obligations or by trying to adapt to rapid change.”  She challenged me to settle down, to become less hurried, by stopping the multi-tasking effort and focusing on what is most important right now.  This particularly struck a chord with me because I realize that when I become most stressed, particularly at work, it’s when I feel I’m doing too many things at once (it’s why emails sometimes only get half-read).  And I’ve been really trying lately to be more focused, to only do one thing at once rather than 10, and this chapter reinforced that to me.  She wrote that “Hurry has become a mindless habit.  We’ve said yes to everything but serenity.”

So this week I chose to rest, to try and practice serenity, to allow God to refresh and refill me.  I’ve got plenty to do this coming week, but now I’m feeling that I’ll be able to do it – one step at a time.

Building Intimacy


About two months ago I volunteered to be part of a blog review team looking at a new book titled Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent. The book is a devotional with the subtitle, “40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus”.  The original plan was to read the book during the season of Lent (one chapter for each of the 40 days), but since the book just arrived last week I’m a little behind…  So I read a few chapters to get me in the swing of things, then jumped forward to where I would have been had I started on Ash Wednesday (which, for the record, was February 13).

Kent’s writing immediately drew me in.  Each chapter is roughly 5-6 pages long, with some very specific application suggestions on the last page.  When I first started reading the chapters some of the titles reminded me of spiritual disciplines to practice (confession, gratitude, simplicity), but I found they were much more than that.  Each chapter highlights a specific insight into how (can) relate to Christ.  I’ve found that spending time each day going through the chapter has drawn me into deeper meditation on the nature and person of Jesus Christ and, as a result, my relationship with him.

So today marks the first of several posts I’ll write about the book.  I’ll be doing at least once a week between now and Easter, perhaps more if time allows.  Today I want to highlight my thoughts on one chapter in particular: Confession.

Deeply Loved Cover

Confession

This chapter, in particular, brought some fresh insight into the act of confession for me.  Kent tells the story of when her six year old daughter confessed of being envious of her brother and how she (the daughter) felt like such a terrible person for feeling that way.  Kent then told how she processed with her daughter the difference between thoughts and actions, what sin was, etc, and how the entire experience brought them closer together rather than force them apart.  Having daughters of my own, I related to this.  When they come to me with struggles they don’t need (or want or expect) condemnation but confirmation, love, support, and forgiveness.  They confess when they are confident of these things.  Kent then compared this situation to our relationship with Jesus; she writes,

The spiritual practice of confession looks exactly like my daughter coming to me to admit her jealous thoughts.  We come to Jesus and own up to our thoughts and actions that are wrong.  He receives these soberly, not brushing them under the rug as if they didn’t matter.  But neither does he shame us.  In confession, we sit with Jesus and look boldly at the truth about our struggle against sin and come clear.  We are washing in grace…Jesus sees our struggles.  What we confess, he already knows.  We do not confess to inform him but to access the grace he wants to give us.  He is moved with compassion by our plight and wants to help us.  Compassion accesses that assistance.”

This section brought such a warm, loving, and open reaction in me to the act of confession that it really helped clarify what has become (for whatever reason) so foggy.  Confession isn’t about punishment, but about forgiveness.  John tells us in his letter that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).  One Bible teacher I heard once told me that the word that is translated as “If” here can also be translated as “when”, so that instead of “if we confess” we could (and perhaps should” read it as “when we confess” – it’s a promise that should bring hope and healing, not condemnation and shame.

Kent goes on to conclude,

When we imagine God’s forgiveness as a huge blanket to cover the entire world, we keep him distant.  But when we specifically name the ways in which we have fallen short, he comes to us and wraps us, individually, in the warm embrace of his love. Confession…builds intimacy. (emphasis mine)

What a beautiful picture of what God has given us!  One the last page of the chapter Kent then highlights some very practical and easy steps to take to practice confession.   The last phrase she wrote (that confession builds intimacy) reminds me of something my father once told me; he says, “God doesn’t have favorites, but he does have intimates, and anyone can be an intimate of God.”  We know that in any relationships there is always one person who loves and cares more than the other person – it’s the nature of relationships – and it is the one who cares less who controls the level of intimacy in the relationship.  Because of our fallen nature, it’s only natural to realize that when it comes to our relationship with God we are the ones who naturally care less, meaning we control the level of intimacy in the relationship, and we have to choose to be intimate with Him.  Confession is a choice we can make in the right direction.

For a free copy of the first chapter, please click this link

Book Review: Deeper into the Word – New Testament by Keri Wyatt Kent


Deeper into the Word – New Testament is subtitled “Reflections on 100 words from the New Testament”, and it is exactly that – reflections.  I have been reading through the book as a devotional – looking at specific words in an effort to better understand the original meanings behind what is written in scripture.  This is not a “Bible Study” book in terms of replacing a good Bible dictionary or or concordance, though it does give some great insights into certain words in the NT, and its use as a devotional tool is wonderful.

While the endorsements on the back of the book claim this book belongs in the reference section of serious Bible students, I believe you’ll better and more thorough sources out there if you’re interested in doing in-depth word studies.  Deeper into the Word will serve as a nice spring-board for your study, and it might help you find some words of interest, but for the person seeking an in-depth reference tool this definitely does not suffice.  Overall I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255