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October 25, 2012

Do You Really Believe God Loves You?

Keri Wyatt Kent’s new book, Deeply Loved, helps women experience how much they are valued.

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Keri Wyatt Kent is a student of the Word and a champion for women, which turns out to be a great combination in her new book, Deeply Loved (Abingdon Press). Using the gospel stories of Jesus, Keri guides us through 40 days of creating space “for Jesus to show up and love you.” And who wouldn’t want that?

Each day begins with a Bible verse and a vignette of how Keri has observed that truth in her or someone else’s life. If it stopped there, it wouldn’t be much different from most devotional books. What makes her book distinct, however, is the “Presence Practice” she concludes each day with.

For example, the first day is titled, “An Only Child.” She quotes Jesus in Matthew 28:20 (CEB): “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” She then tells the story of a foster child who is learning for the first time that Jesus loves him, and smoothly transitions into the fact that Jesus loves us, too, quoting Augustine: “God loves each of us like an only child.”

Keri then admits that most of us don’t feel God’s love—and therein lies the problem. So in the “Presence Practice” section at the end of the first day’s devotional, she challenges us to “take some time to sit quietly. Invite Jesus to be with you as you let your mind and heart settle down. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths just to slow your body down.”

I did—and recognized that if I practiced just that part each day, I would begin to experience God’s presence more.

She further challenges us to look at where our ideas of God come from, and to consider what lies or misconceptions may cloud our perception of God’s love for us. After we’ve identified those falsehoods, Keri encourages us to replace such lies with the truth of God’s love. She concludes the first day with an encouragement to go through the day thinking of God looking at you with love and delight.

After putting day one of her challenge into practice, I found that I often determine the state of my relationship with God by how well my circumstances are going. When something bad happens to me, I feel punished rather than loved; I become suspicious that I did something to displease God, and have to bear unpleasant consequences as a result. This is clearly a lie and misperception of who God really is, as he’s usually trying to accomplish something in me through my circumstances.

So after looking at the unpleasant circumstances I’m currently experiencing, I refuted the idea of punishment, because after prayerful consideration, I could not pinpoint any disobedience that God wanted me to repent of. Instead, I chose to bask in his love in spite of my circumstances. As Keri urged, I went through my day thinking of God looking at me with love and delight.

This changed everything. My difficult circumstances became a way to experience a renewed sense of God’s love for me rather than a tool of correction.

Clearly, Keri hopes that after spending 40 days with her book, Jesus’ love will become a palpable reality in your daily life. I’m going to take her challenge, and see where it takes me—feel free to join me on the journey.

In what ways have you experienced God’s love? What have you learned about God and yourself through that experience?

JoHannah Reardon is managing editor of ChristianBibleStudies.com. She blogs at johannahreardon.com and is the author of seven fictional books and a family devotional guide.

Related Tags: acceptance, attitude, compassion, deeply loved, keri wyatt kent, love

Comments

everything on earth and in heaven can change but God's love remain unchanged as God Himself

I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I'll love to read your next post too.

JoHannah and TCW, thanks for the great review. My prayer is that people who are spiritually lonely, hungry for affirmation, would find it in Jesus. The book is a tool to help them do that. I appreciate you taking the time to read and review it!

I think placing feelings first can be the problem...the cart before the horse. I choose to start with what I KNOW is true about God, about my circumstances, as we are encouraged to do in Philippians 4, "whatever things are true...THINK on these things." When we think correctly, feelings will follow. Allowing feelings to lead us may guide us to false ideas, impressions. The breathing exercises etc may help relax us, but Scripture says "be still and KNOW that I am God," not be still and FEEL. I am loved by God, God's word assures me of this and I choose to believe and know this as fact. This factual knowledge provides me with solid unshakeable foundation on those days when I do not feel his love in or out of the tub!

In response to Jan's post above—I know a lot of "Christians" who have what is called "The 12 inch problem": They have a lot of head knowledge about God, go to church, recite rote prayers and repeat scriptural readings, and all that head stuff never makes it down the 12 inches to their heart. They never experience God's amazing love and forgiveness, like that of David in the Psalms, of Paul who rhapsodizes about experiencing the height and width and depth of God's love. I love studying and thinking about the Bible, and it has been proved to me over and over that when I am immersed in God's word, my feelings are informed by those words and I can be confident that when I then take the time to experience God's love into the core of my being, I will not be lead into "false ideas and impressions." That's the purpose of the unshakeable foundation of the Word: it can be completely trusted to withstand whatever life throws at us, and I can freely experience an amazing love connection with God regardless of my circumstances and emotions. I think that's what Keri is helping us to do so well in this book.

Well said Terri. The 12 inch problem becomes the rule® when left uncontested, and a joy sapping dictator to boot. I look forward to delving deep into this book!

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