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  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

Last year, I decided I wanted to read more. I made a goal to read 24 books--at least two a month seemed doable. A friend told me about GoodReads, which is a website and an app you can put on your phone to help keep track of what you're reading, what you'd like to read, and what you want to read in the future. My favorite part is seeing what my friends are reading and what they like about particular books. By the end of December, I was shocked to count up my stack and realized I had read 36 in total!

2018 was in many ways a year of discovery for me. After months of prayer and preparation, I made a big transition in my life which resulted in some time off over the summer. That helped open up my schedule to include some more reading, of course, but it also gave me some time to experiment in the types of books I read. I read physical books at home, scrolled through digital books while waiting in lines and listened to audio books while I cleaned house or commuted to meetings. I read multiple books at the same time, jumping from productivity to murder mysteries and then to spiritual development--sometimes all in the same day!

This year, my goal is to hit 36 again, but I'm secretly hoping to surpass it. I love to read, but now that my schedule is filling up again, I have to intentionally carve out the time to do so. Here's a glimpse at some of what I read last year that I feel made the biggest impact at that moment in my life. Click on the gallery read a few brief thoughts on each:

I hope this helps you get started on a new reading goal! You can find all of these books on Amazon or at a bookseller near you. Comment below and let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought, and leave a book suggestion while you're at it!


  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

The first day at a new job.

The first day of the new year.

The first fresh cup of coffee in the morning.

The first blank page in a new journal.

The first words in Scripture...

"In the beginning..."

Genesis 1:1

There is so much potential in a moment that marks the start of something new. When January comes, we determine we are going to be different this year. Lose weight, get out of debt, work less, play different.

Every year, I crack open the front cover of my Bible and open it to the first chapter of the first book and begin to read it all over again. Genesis marks the beginning of everything we see, hear, smell, taste, feel. It's the story of how our world was created, how God formed each thing with care down to the finest detail. It's the story of how man and woman were formed. It's the first beginning.

But it's also the first end.

We don't get too far into this idyllic setting before everything gets messed up. Something tragic happens that sets the course of human history in a seemingly irreversible spiral towards pain, destruction and chaos for generations to come (Genesis 3).

It's why we have a love/hate relationship with new beginnings. Every year we crave change. We crave another chance at a better life. We crave a new beginning. And every year, over the course of time, we know these lofty goals we have set for ourselves are never going to last, and soon we're right back in our old ways. We'll never be perfect...on our own.

Let's look at those words again...but this time in the New Testament:

"In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:1-5

In this passage, the "Word" is referring to God's powerful ability to speak things into existence, from creation to revelation and salvation. In the New Testament, Jesus is the personification of that "Word". Jesus wasn't created as a back-up plan--He is God and always existed. And He is the last "new beginning" we'll ever need.

He gives life. John 3:16

His light shines in the darkness--and the darkness will never snuff it out. John 1:5

In Him all things are made new. Revelation 21:5

When we give our lives over to Him, we are made into a new creation--a masterpiece (no weight loss supplements needed). 2 Corinthians 5:17 & Ephesians 2:10

This year, let's ditch our list of New Year's Resolutions and instead commit to the one New Beginning that is guaranteed to last for all eternity. Let's commit to becoming closer to Jesus.

It's a chance to do things differently, to do things better...once and for all.

  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

This is the final post in a series on how to spot sneaky selfishness before it stops you (read the first post here). We talked about sneaky selfishness number one: The thought that "I am not enough" (read that post here) and then last week, we talked about sneaky selfishness number two: The thought that "It all depends on me" (read that post here).

Today we hit a difficult one. Even if we can stop thinking everything depends on us, and even if we can stop believing the lie that we are somehow not enough, we often let this stop us in our tracks: I can never forgive myself for _____________ (fill in the blank). We feel that because of something we did or said, we don’t deserve to live in victory--we feel disqualified--so we continually beat ourselves up over something that happened in the past.

Forgiveness is foundational to Christianity. In fact, Scripture requires two kinds of forgiveness: Christ forgives us when we hurt Him and we are told to forgive others when they hurt us. But nowhere does it mention that we need to forgive ourselves. The truth is, you really can’t forgive yourself—not because what you did is unforgivable, but because you don’t have the authority to forgive yourself.

The only way to atone for sin is death. In Old Testament times, this was done through the sacrifice of a spotless, perfect lamb. But then God sent THE Spotless, Perfect Lamb: His Son, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross and rose again for my sins and for your sins. Jesus forgives me the minute I ask for it. I DIDN’T die on the cross for my sins. Therefore, the responsibility to extend forgiveness to me is not mine. If I can't forgive myself, but Jesus already did, am I asserting my own authority above Jesus'? Can you see how this is a sneaky form of selfishness? There is no way you would be so arrogant as to place your own judgement above that of Jesus…right?

I know the sight of those black & white words may look harsh, but please go back and re-read them in the most loving voice you can imagine. I wish I could sit face to face with you and tell you this in person, because I know my point can easily be lost in a misinterpretation of text-tone. By mistakenly believing that you are responsible for forgiving yourself when Jesus has already done that for you, you are trapped in a sneaky form of selfishness. It's hard to hear that, but it's true--and I need you to hear it because much like viewing the behind-the-scenes of an optical illusion, once you see the truth of this, you'll be free from the lie once and for all!

So, stop trying to forgive yourself.

Take a deep breath in.

Now let it out.

All of those mistakes and wrong choices you made are redeemed through Christ, and He wants to use you to help others who are trapped in that very thing, and guide them towards freedom! Instead of letting shame hold you back from the important work God needs you to do, thank God that He has forgiven you and commit to move on from the past and walk forward in victory!

This life you've been given is a gift. But it's not about you.

I hope through this series you have learned that one key to living a life of victory is knowing the difference between humility and insecurity. Next time you begin to doubt who you are and what you are capable of doing, remember that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in you, and the God that lives in you is bigger than the world you live in.

It's not about you--it's about God and how He plans to use the gifts and talents He placed in you to make an eternal impact in the lives around you. When we let our insecurities stop us from doing that, we are being selfish.

Time is running out—one way or another, we are going to see Jesus again soon. It’s been 2000 years since Christ had the victory over sin and the grave, and it may be another 2000 years before Christ’s return to this earth, but you and I don’t have that long—someday we will meet our own end. When that day comes, I want to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Insecurity keeps us focused more on ourselves and our lack than on what God wants us to do for Him through His abundance. We all should aim to be humble, but none of us want to be selfish. When we doubt ourselves, we doubt God. So today I challenge you...get over yourself!

#victory #insecurity

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