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Spiritual blindness

Spiritual blindness

It was an unusually foggy morning.

As my eyes tried to adjust to the stubborn haze, I realized this journey felt familiar.

Years ago, as a new believer in Christ, my spiritual vision was dim.  As I made attempts to make sense of Christianity and aspects of the gospel, I often had the sense of stumbling my way forward without clarity.

This new world seemed to hold promise although I didn’t understand how to tap into the promises of God or how to process what my senses were awakening to.

My faith muscles were about to be stretched. Abraham knew what it felt like to follow God into unknown territories leaving behind a world of comfort and familiarity. My journey began to take on a similar route.

As I felt the fog began to lift, I felt more relaxed and it became easier to navigate my trip.

Spiritual vision becomes acute with intentionality and depth in the context of relationships.

As Job states, “ I had heard of you only by the hearing of the ear, but now my spiritual eye sees You.” -Job 42:5

Similarly, as I began to grow in my faith walk, details became magnified as I noticed budding beauty all around me with a fresh perspective.

Jesus engages the senses to make each moment resplendently glorious resurrecting the wonder in each of us again.

John 9 tells the parable of a blind man and his encounter with Jesus.

Jesus creatively used spit to bring vision, turning the mundane into the miraculous. 

It is interesting to note, that Jesus restored sight to a man who had never seen.

Apart from grace, we are left in a blind stupor.

Grace rescues us from blindness, opening our eyes to the daily splendor embedded within abundant life. Click To Tweet

Copyright © 2019 Shelley Singh

Photo credit: Sara Shafqat

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Case for grace book review

Case for grace chronicles Lee’s journey of interviewing various individuals to see how grace has impacted their lives. From a homeless orphan to a murderer on death row, these heartwarming stories share a common thread. Lives transformed by the freedom that only grace can usher.

            Lee manages to paint portraits of how grace has transformed lives skillfully. Each story is so diverse, yet grace is an unapologetic celebration of divine acceptance.

God celebrates each of us through adoption as children and also celebrates our revelation of freedom in Christ.

This book is crafted with delightful candor, insight, and is brimming with redemption. It is one of my favorite books by Lee Strobel and one that I genuinely wish I had encountered during the early days of becoming a believer.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption. Of all the gifts of grace, adoption is the highest.” ― J.I. Packer, Knowing God

 All we needed when we first came to Jesus was his grace, and grace is all we need to grow in Christ. Grace liberates us. Our tendency to perform imprisons us. #caseforgrace #leestrobel. Click To Tweet

Genuine grace is the free gift of salvation, and you can’t add a price to something that is already free.

Grace is often received when we give up our efforts of trying to please God and coming to the point of revelation that nothing can add o the finished work of the cross.

Grace is born out of the fullness of His love for us and tangibly woven into our daily lives.

 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.- John 1:16

This book will awaken you to wonder of mysterious grace, leaving you in awe of the love of God.

To summarize, I love this line penned by Lee, on the relationship of grace and healing.

  Over time, I have found that nothing heals like grace. #caseforgrace #leestrobel. Click To Tweet

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Comfort in a crisis

God’s grace is the source of comfort. Comfort is a need we can all relate to, particularly at this time in the whirlwind of an unexpected global pandemic.

Comfort is a healer, and as we make our hearts intentionally receptive, comfort will release the fragrance of peace.

Once we receive comfort, we can invite others into the comforting arms of God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we are comforted by God. – 2 Cor 1:3-5

God’s comfort is rooted in the stability of His love for each one of us.

There is no rock like our God- 1 Samuel 2:2

Comfort is the key to developing resilience in uncertain seasons. #covid19 #comfort. Click To Tweet

Comfort will also open to the door of our hearts to show compassion on others as they deal with their struggles and ways of coping.

The world may be shaking with uncertainty, but our security and strength come from courageously entrusting our futures in the hands of a loving Father.

Prayer: Lord, we thank You for the gift of comfort.  May Your comfort bring compassion and resilience to our hearts as we choose to keep our focus on You. Amen 

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I still believe review

           Like many others, I have sought the healing balm worship music brings into the valleys of my faith. 

Jeremy Camp is a much-adored Christian musician who has sung words of comfort into my life, words that still resonate with me years after I first heard them. His songs Wonderful  Maker and The Way remain personal favorites of mine, ones that bring up memories of meditating on the goodness of God.

Named after one of his famous songs, the movie I Still Believe focuses on a season of Jeremy Camp’s faith journey. The film is full of authentic faith, reflecting the moments of faithfulness Jeremy strives to hold on to as well as other times when lacking faith; he learned to lean on God for His faithfulness.

It beautifully narrates a love story between Jeremy and his first wife, Melissa, who is diagnosed early on in their relationship with a terminal illness. Despite this unexpected detour, Jeremy believes faith can sustain them transcending the borders of health and disease, from the harbor of health to the erratic waves of an unknown future. 

Not many people would dive into a valley with a fiancé facing an unpredictable future, yet Jeremy decides to heed the voice of God.

In his case, as in many biblical accounts, heeding to the voice of God ensures the will of God accomplish His purposes but does not always produce the outcome our hearts desire.

You may not have suffered the loss of a spouse like Jeremy did, but you may have wrestled with your faith in some season. Perhaps, you have experienced the death of a dream or career, or a meaningful relationship suddenly died.

We can hold on to the promises of God and choose a better way, choose to still believe.  #istillbelievemovie. Click To Tweet

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6 New International Version (NIV)

The process of maturing in love includes handling hard emotions, unexpected losses, and wrestling with our desires.

We can choose, like Jeremy, to still believe the promises of God amidst the wrestling, amidst the dry seasons of faith, where growth seems sparse and painstakingly slow.

God allows us to experience the process of grief, although He desires that we intentionally open our hearts to receive the comfort that His grace offers. His compassion is a reminder of the gift of redemption that our stories may have hues of grief, yet it is the road to redemption that will color us back to life.

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Esther

Esther was not born into royalty, yet favor catapulted her to a place of regal influence. Thankfully, Esther had the support of Mordecai who trusted the Lord and also believed in Esther’s ability to save the Jews.

Courage set Esther uniquely apart despite her own inhibitions.

The fulfillment of a call takes preparation including silent seasons. Esther remained faithful to trust God and as a result, she saw the faithfulness of God.

Her preparation lasted for a year including the use of myrrh, which is used to heal wounds. This implies wholeness is a deep desire of the Lord for the church.

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)

Interestingly, Vashti was banished because of disobedience. A royal decree was made to give her royal position to someone else, someone else who would steward her position better than her. She is banished and her name is not mentioned again nor does she return to the palace.

Spiritually, we are royal stewards of gifts and talents. We are also assigned callings but our calling is contingent upon our response, submission and willingness to develop into maturity so we can serve people the way our Father desires.

In the case we disobey and do not respond, the Lord will still ensure His desires will reach fruition.

Obedience takes courage and yields much fruit. The obedience of Mordecai and Esther brought a cascade of redemption.

Often, it is not about doing things perfectly but responding courageously.

When we respond courageous to God, a sacred wholehearted yes with one individual can bring much change creating a legacy of love that will impact generations to come.

So a fundamental distinction between Vashti and Esther remains their response.

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? -Esther 4:14

Their response to the King determined their connection with the King and ultimately, their destiny.

A sign of spiritual maturity is how we respond.  May we respond courageously like Esther to fulfill the call of God on our lives for obedience brings redemption. Click To Tweet

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By His Grace Podcast

I had the honor to be a guest on Misty Phillip's podcast, By His Grace. I spoke about forming relationships with individuals from shame and honor cultures such as eastern religions including Sikhism. Click To Tweet

I hope you enjoy the podcast and it provides practical pearls of wisdom.

I encourage you to check out and subscribe to By His Grace podcast. It is available on iTunes and Spotify. You will grace filled testimonies that will uplift your heart and remind you of the Father’s goodness.

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Interview with author Tessa Afshar

With valentines day a week ago from today, the air remains saturated with love and romance.

Tessa Afshar’s latest release, a ravishing romance develops between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome, radiating the beauty of covenant. Tessa afshar's latest release, a ravishing romance develops between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome, radiating the beauty of covenant. Click To Tweet

Today on my blog, I am honored to feature a post interviewing Tessa Afshar on her thoughts about romance and incorporating romance into her writing.

I want to thank crazy4fiction blog for the content of this blog and providing permission to use the content from their site.

This post was originally published as part of the Crazy4Fiction blog and is used with permission.

Click here for the original post

Q: Relationships aren’t always smooth sailing. Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome have their share of challenges. How did you decide what obstacles to have them overcome together and how do you hope their story will encourage others?

A: Priscilla and Aquila were expelled from Rome, which meant they were forced to leave their home, dear friends, and established business ties. The implied emotional and financial stress in such an unexpected move is enormous and bound to affect even the strongest of relationships. In Daughter of Rome, I tried to capture some of the complexities of love in troubled times. The story reminds us how important it is to choose love in marriage, to guard it, to fight for it. To avoid listening to the negative conclusions that our wounded hearts press upon us. I hope readers will be inspired by Priscilla and Aquila’s brave love for each other, for God, and for friend and foe alike.

Q: Your novels are set during biblical times when courtship customs were different from today. How do you give characters in your novels romances that will resonate with contemporary readers while also not making the love stories feel too modern for the setting?

A: I believe there are certain things about the human heart that never change regardless of the era. Women will always want to be known and cherished. Pursued. Men still need to feel honored and respected. They still dread failure. The ancient Romans and Israelites might not have gone out to the local Italian restaurant for a first date. But the main ingredients of a good romance never change.

Q: Is there a scene between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome that was the most fun for you to write? Which scene is it?

A: Oddly, it is the scene where Aquila almost ruins everything. He withdraws his first proposal. Caught in a whirlwind of judgment, he can’t wait to walk away. But the reader is also aware, perhaps more than Aquila himself, that he can’t really let Priscilla go. I love the charged tension Aquila feels in this scene, his heart torn between a consuming love and sharp censure. Even though the scene doesn’t have a happy conclusion, as readers we are aware that it will eventually lead to a more satisfying union.

Q: What’s one of your favorite romantic lines a character says in your novels?

A: Goodness! This one is really difficult to answer. The romance of a line usually comes from the buildup of many previous scenes, adding momentum. But here is a stab at an answer. I chose a short scene from Land of Silence:

He strode toward me without a word and, before I could object, grabbed hold of my hands and hauled me into his arms.

“Ethan! I am unclean!”

He cradled my head against his shoulder. “I have never known a cleaner woman.”

Author Bio – Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible Study and DVD, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, will be released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

For Tessa’s latest release check out, https://www.tyndale.com//p/daughter-of-rome/9781496428707

If you enjoyed this post, you may like my review on Tessa Afshar’s book entitled, Daughter of Rome, here

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Book giveaway

Tessa has been generous to provide a book giveaway to celebrate the launch of Daughter of Rome. To enter tag yourself in the comments below and/or tag a friend you would like a chance to win. I would love to hear why you would like to read biblical fiction. Winner will be selected randomly and contacted within the month of February.

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Daughter of Rome review

By Shelley Singh

Synopsis

A woman with a devastating secret. A man bent on proving his worth. A chance encounter that catapults them into the heart of history.

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

My review:

Tessa Afshar’s latest release is a literary gem. The biblical fiction genre is somewhat new to me, yet it did not take long to captivate my attention from beginning to end. The novel is set in ancient Rome with a of plethora amiable characters. Based upon the book of acts, Priscilla and Aquila play a central role in Daughter of Rome.

It is a joy to watch Priscilla flourish in her identity in Christ, as she wholeheartedly submits her life and fears continuously along a rocky journey. Her deeply rooted faith challenges us as readers to examine our own faith and despite the fragility of her heart, nothing can stop the force of redemption that is displayed so powerfully in her life.

It is evident that God has a special plan for women in the church and this is demonstrated skillfully through the character of Priscilla.

I absolutely adored their relationship including their seasons of disappointment along with their fierce commitment to God and to each other. Their relationship spoke to me on many levels; their intimacy was ravishing providing the reader much delight of wholesome connection. One of my favorite aspects of the novel was their relationship. The flavor of passion, commitment and growth as a couple is enchanting.  Despite a history of rejection from their families, they find grace in the arms of the Father and each other. Aquila’s tender care yet vigilant care foreshadows the heart of Lord for each one of us.

The beauty of covenant shines beautifully through this couple as Jew and gentile become one in Messiah.

The novel weaves various themes seamlessly throughout the narrative such as forgiveness, mercy, faith and hope amidst trials. This novel will be a healing balm to your soul, provoking you to grow in these areas as you receive courage to live abundantly and boldly for the kingdom.

With a touch of wonder he saw her eyes fill with tears. She drank the Word like it was life. Click To Tweet #daughterofrome #tessaafshar @Tessaafshar

Your heart will be aroused to seek after your first love while you glean wisdom from the steadfast faith of the early church. This book will make the Word come alive, leaving you in wonder of the mystery of grace.

I highly recommend this book, as I believe it will encourage you to explore biblical themes during an adventure in Rome, you will not want to miss!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for an honest review. The words and opinions expressed are my own.

About the author:

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible Study and DVD, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, will be released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

A sneak peak into Daughter of Rome: https://files.tyndale.com/…/firstChap…/978-1-4964-2871-4.pdf

Tessa’s website: https://tessaafshar.com/

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/

Purchase here:

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In pursuit of love: Book review

In Pursuit of Love: One Woman’s Journey from Trafficked to Triumphant by Rebecca Bender


Rebecca bender’s new book, in pursuit of love is a memoir of a young woman yearning for love who falls into the dark world of human trafficking in the United States. Her pursuit of love quickly morphs into a downward spiral of tumultuous cycles. Rather than finding love, she is exposed to a world full of manipulation and lies.
This vivid memoir encapsulates her struggles, fears, hopes and dreams with raw authenticity. Her gift for meticulous storytelling reveals insights into a world that is frightening closer than most of us realize. Her pursuit of freedom remains a common theme and her tenacity to survive despite the loss of her identity in more ways than one reveals her resilience throughout the story.
Her depiction of the effects of trauma upon the psychological, emotional and spiritual levels is clearly painted. It is evident that survivors of human trafficking require deep, intentional healing that is possible with the proper support and grace filled counseling.
Her words reveal her inner turmoil to truly be accepted and loved, an inherent need each individual feel and fills in a different way. However, she discovers the truth that this need can only be quenched with surrender to her loving Creator by allowing Him to bring her to a place of healing and ultimately, freedom.
This book is gripping from the first chapter all the way to the end. The story of being trafficked to becoming triumphant is apparent throughout the memoir, as it is a joy to watch Rebecca flourish into a woman of brazen boldness.
This memoir makes the word of God come alive in a fresh and dynamic way, making it evident once again, that grace has can reach individuals who have experienced the most horrific trials. This book is an arsenal of practical insights so that anyone can become an advocate for trafficked victims. This book is an arsenal of practical insights so that anyone can become an advocate for trafficked victims. Click To Tweet

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book by author for an honest review.