Your something is not everything, but it’s not nothing either

Ok.

You need to say it.

SOMETHING happened.

It’s that. That right there. The thing that came to your mind when you read the word “something.”

Maybe it happened this week or this month or this year. Maybe it happened last week or last month or last year. Maybe it was longer ago than that. But SOMETHING happened.

It’s a thing you wish hadn’t happened or a promise unfulfilled or an unrecoverable loss.

And now you are fighting to keep it from being everything.

That hat on the shelf. The overheard conversation in the crowd. The baby crying, “Mama.” The sunrise or the sunset. Now that SOMETHING seems like EVERYTHING.

So we suck it up.

We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and try to ignore it.

We try to pretend the conversation about her Mama doesn’t bother us at all. We act like the baby in her arms is not that big of a deal. We try to deceive ourselves into thinking her relationship with her husband or kids isn’t one we would die to have. We play like the position or platform she has doesn’t mean a thing to us.

The problem is while trying to keep our SOMETHING from becoming EVERYTHING, we attempt to make it NOTHING.

We tell ourselves, “It doesn’t matter. I should live as if it wasn’t something. I should go on like the something wasn’t something. I should keep trying to make my something, nothing.”

But the truth is SOMETHING has happened. Something left a hole.

Now making the SOMETHING, EVERYTHING allows the hole to consume us. It turns our life into the something and makes the something our Lord.

The opposite is true. SOMETHING is not NOTHING. Something changed you. Making the something, nothing can keep the something from being redeemed. It makes us believe that it is not something that can be surrendered to the foot of the cross and used for the glory of God.

This is the perspective Paul is giving when he says, “Do not grieve as those who have no hope.” (1 Thes. 4:13)

Paul is telling us not to make grief EVERYTHING because that’s not what it is. There is only One who is our EVERYTHING, and he is not a thing.

Paul is also not telling us NOT to grieve. He wants us to understand that grief is not NOTHING.

In this verse, Paul gives us the proper perspective. The thing, person, relationship, health, or position we lost is not EVERYTHING or NOTHING, and Paul helps us see that we can allow our something to be used for God’s great purpose.

It is when we place our SOMETHING in the hands of our holy God that our something can become a valuable piece work of God.

Take time my friend. Your something IS something.

Cry your tears and shake your fists and lay your something at the feet of Jesus.

One day in we will rise to see that THE Everything is using our something to accomplish so much more than nothing.

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A review and a giveaway

It has begun. The season of Christmas is upon us. The great reminder is that the joy of Christmas is the gospel.

The season of Christmas is upon us. The great reminder is that the joy of Christmas is the gospel.

The great reminder is that the joy of Christmas is the gospel.

As a family we have been reading portions of The Jesus Storybook Bible for our family advent. It is a stunning reminder of how the gospel is woven from “In the beginning” to “Amen.”

That is why I feel it is a perfect time to tell you all about my new Bible and how you could get one, too.

Before I get to all the details I am also praying that you might find a renewed passion for the gospel in the coming days no matter which Bible you choose as your own.

So here goes. A month or so ago I got the opportunity to review the She Reads Truth CSB Bible. I was given the Bible to review for B&H Publishing by FrontGate Media. While they gave me the Bible all my thoughts and opinions are my own.

What I know

The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, 66 artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.

What I think

Prior to receiving this Bible, I was very curious about it. Throughout the past few weeks, I have tried to answer the questions I had asked myself.

I knew it was very pretty, but how would I categorize it? Is it a journal Bible to study and use the extra wide margins to express creative worship? Is it a study Bible to deepen my understanding of the time, space, and culture surrounding the events of the Bible? Is it a devotional Bible that has unique story perspectives to teach certain truths?

As I unwrapped its packaging, I started to discover that this was all three.

As I did a more thorough search I found that it was not trying to be all things to all people at the expense of excellence. While I am usually for keeping things simple I found that the diversity was very balanced.

I also found myself questioning the new version of the Bible. I think that we always need to be careful when handling the word of God especially when it is being translated or transliterated.

Over the past several weeks I have used this new version in church and in Bible study. I have compared it very closely with the ESV, NASB, and LEB versions of the Bible. I even did a comparative study of 1 John.

I found the translation very close in meaning to all three versions I use on a regular basis. This may not become your favorite version because it is better than the version you use, but it will not make you shudder when contrasting other versions.

I have seen versions of the Bible that almost change the meaning when translated differently. I am no scholar, but I find the new CSB version easy to read without losing the agreed-upon meaning of most theologians.

I found both the diversity of the style and the choice of the text to be refreshingly challenging.

What I get to share

The exciting part of this review is that I get to share a chance for you to win one of seven copies that B&H Publishing and FrontGate Media is giving away. Merry Christmas, right?

Go HERE for your chance to win. Seven winners will be selected on December 10th.

Or don’t risk the chance and get one for yourself HERE.

I was so excited to be able to say that I can recommend this as a great version for new and seasoned believers alike.

I pray you receive a renewed passion for the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ this season. This new Bible might be one of the sparks for you or someone you love (it would be an amazing addition under the tree).

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Keep my eyes high, Lord Jesus

I am still waiting.

This week a friend sold her house and last week another closed on hers.

It’s so hard. I want it to be over. I want it to be resolved. It feels like I have carried extra weight for a year.

I have obeyed and now I am waiting for God to come through on His end.

The length of my wait has caused my eyes to settle on the object of my waiting often. All of the sudden I am trying to connive God into ways he can fulfill His promise.

I am obsessing with this house or that one. I am thinking that maybe God has waited so that He can be the answer to someone else’s prayer, too. I keep trying to make sure one more thing is cleaned or organized, one more smell is right, or one more pillow is perfectly placed. I am trying to pray enough, be content enough, and be faithful enough.

The reality is that when God starts something he is going to finish it. He will finish it His way and in His plan.

The truth is that when God makes a promise, I cannot sabotage it. I am not that powerful.

But the real regret will be missing the relationship when I look at the object of my waiting longer than I look at the person of my faith.

Because when my house sells, I will still want Jesus more.

When He does His part and the object of my waiting is fulfilled, the Person of my faith will still be who I need.

A new house in a new community and closer to the things we visit on our weekly routine will be useless unless they are filled with Christ.

All the things that I want pale in comparison to the deep soul desire I have for Jesus. It won’t change. It won’t go away. I will always be His and always want Him.

SO I pray that I will be able to keep raising my eyes from the things to the person. I pray that Jesus will be all that I need and want.

In the end, I won’t want his stuff without his presence anyway.

Keep my eyes high, Lord Jesus.

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I could have been Joe Holcombe and I wouldn’t change it

Please understand that I will never pretend to know what the families of the Texas shooting are going through this week.

But I could have been Joe Holcombe.

He lost eight family members to senseless violence.

I don’t make that comparison lightly.

I have stood at a triple funeral of family members as the result of violence. I have heard the trite platitudes as if ANYTHING someone could say would patch the hole gaping in my heart.

But I have to say this.

My family is also the church. If circumstances were different and we lived in a tiny town together, we would have all been in church together last Sunday morning. In actuality, we were still gathered in churches across my city and our nation.

But if we all lived in a tiny Texas town, we would have all been in our spots on the pew or covered chair.

We wouldn’t be there out of obligation; we would be there out of freedom. Because JESUS radically changed us, we would have no other priority than spending a morning worshipping him.

Because in my family Jesus saves:
He saved the racist.
He saved the manipulator.
He saved the divorced.
He saved the prisoner.
He saved the druggie.
He saved the self-righteous.
He saved the bitter.
He saved the liar.
He saved the abused.
He saved the cultist.
He saved the rebel.
He saved the drinker.
He saved the burden carrier.
He saved the harsh father.
He saved the cheated.
He saved the helpless, hopeless, and heartless.

He has saved nearly every one of my family members.

And we didn’t do it to join a church, we did it to be made new.

I have sat at more than one funeral and texted some of the sinners on that list and thanked them for following Jesus.

It is their faith in Jesus that gives me hope. Our trust is in the one who has the power to lacerate death back. It is the only hope we have when we face the unimaginable.

I think this is a touch of what Paul was saying in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 when He said we would grieve differently.

NOW, hear me clearly. Paul does not say we will not grieve. He says we’ll grieve WITH HOPE.

In fact, I would argue that a life fully lived for Jesus will have accomplished its purpose and can and should leave a hole.

I would cry maybe all of the rest of my days if I was truly in the shoes of Joe Holcombe. But I can tell you from experience that I have stood beside the caskets of those who have left me with hope, and I have stood beside those that have not. I handle saying goodbye to those who leave me with hope much better.

So I can’t help but ask. Will you leave others with that hope?

I am serious when I say… MESSAGE ME or email me at christina@christinakhanagov.com. I would love to share how you can leave that hope with your friends and family. I could tell you about how Jesus makes all the sinners in my family brand new, and that he can make you new, too.

Because it could have been my family Sunday morning, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Like Cornelius

I met Cornelius in a chapel in the North Carolina mountains.

Cornelius is who I hope to be one day.

Let me tell you exactly how we crossed paths.

This year for our 15th anniversary WK and headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We had the “honeymoon” that we only could have dreamed of when we stayed in that condo in Hawaii.

We did all kinds of things and, after over a year of running off my feet, I relaxed.

For a whole week I enjoyed the days, the luxury, and the company. I inhaled deeply the grace and extravagance of God and my husband, and exhaled the feelings of unworthiness and idleness.

We hiked trails to see waterfalls. We toured our historical hotel. We drove in the rain for part of Blue Ridge parkway as the steam from the rain filled the valley. We drove with our (rented) top down through the tallest trees this Oklahoma girl has ever seen.

We explored the grounds of the Biltmore Estate thanks to a long time family friend’s generosity. We had several extra courses the night of our anniversary because another friend’s cousin owned a fabulous restaurant. We had cocktail hour (that I called “snackers” because I ain’t a cocktail girl) and spa time at our hotel each night.

I was in heaven.

But it was on the day that we went to the Billy Graham Conference Center that I met Cornelius.

The Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains holds about 1200 acres used by Billy Graham as personal retreat and training for Christians across the nation.

We were touring the chapel there and met several volunteers along the way. They were all very knowledgable and helpful. As we went into the main chapel area that had a pulpit transplanted there that was hundreds of years old (complete with it’s original candelabra for evening sermons), Barbara and Cornelius met us to tell of the place.

They took their time telling us all about the influence Ruth Graham had on the design and construction of the chapel.

They were a sweet couple, but here’s what will always stick out to me.

Cornelius hobbled along with the aid of a walker. His body was extremely frail. He drooled a little when he talked.

Now… Why on earth would I want to be like that?

Because his eyes lit up when he talked (ok, yelled… he was pretty deaf too) about Jesus. His step seemed lighter as he quoted Ruth and Billy’s favorite verses respectively.

He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16 when Paul says, “Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Longevity runs in my family. By the time my race is run, I may find myself watching my outer body waste away.

But here is what I pray. I pray that my unstable legs will still follow Jesus. I pray that my eyes still light up when they see his work. I pray that my drooling mouth keeps speaking his praise.

I refuse to ask God for less than more of him when then there is less off me.

One day soon Cornelius will see Jesus face to face. He will stand straighter than he did as a boy. He will run faster than he has in years. He will have a new body, but he will have the same Jesus.

Until then I pray that both Cornelius and I grow closer to the only One who gives drooling lips the ability to praise.

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