Faith, security

An Emergency Responder Who Will Never Leave

Have you ever witnessed a near-death experience? Watched someone deliver CPR to a lifeless body? Or administered the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim? In our scariest moments, we need to know our God is also a very real and present Father.

Once a large, chalky pill got lodged in my throat. My lungs burned for air. It was terrifying. I was in the bedroom by myself, and I couldn’t scream for help, much less breathe. I began to knock on my stomach while bent over and, with everything in me, force out a cough, even just a tiny one.

Praise God, my meager efforts to dislodge the medication worked. By the time the pill hit the floor and I took a reviving breath, tears already flowed down my face. I was relieved yet shaken by the knowledge that I’d almost, very truly, died. I started thanking God at once because my paltry efforts while the pill obstructed my oxygen couldn’t have worked on their own. He saved me.

This experience had me contemplating salvation. Through Christ, God rescued us from death and brought us spiritual life. Wow! It’s almost unfathomable that the God of the universe took us from hopelessly lost in sin to eternally safe in Christ.

Girl with lit heart

Unlike an emergency responder, God doesn’t save us and return to the fire station. Click To Tweet

But what’s more, unlike an emergency responder, God doesn’t save us and return to the fire station. Instead, He welcomes us into His family and adopts us as His children, making us heirs to His royal and eternal Kingdom. Do you see how deeply God loves us? 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I love that the translation adds the exclamation marks. It makes me want to shout to the hills! We are children of God!

On Father’s Day, we’ll honor dads for all they do for their children. Fatherhood can enable men, who were once immature and selfish, to lavish complete devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, and unconditional love on their children. But even their best efforts can fail.Fatherhood can enable men, who were once immature and selfish, to lavish complete devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, and unconditional love on their children. But even their best efforts can fail. Click To Tweet

If your earthly father has ever disappointed, hurt, or abandoned you, this can leave a deep and painful wound. But there’s One who will always cherish you. Our Father in Heaven goes above and beyond the call of duty. He isn’t simply an emergency responder who moves on after the saving is done. Nope. He never leaves us, nor will He ever fail, injure, or disappoint us. He is fully devoted to us in the good days or the bad.Our Father in Heaven goes above and beyond the call of duty. He isn’t simply an emergency responder who moves on after the saving is done. Click To Tweet

I hope this Father’s Day is a little sweeter as you reflect on your Heavenly Father’s perfect love for you. Take time to thank the One who rescued you and calls you His precious child.

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surrender

Letting Jesus Be Your King

kristenquote1-apr15-fbThe guitarist started to strum the background music. The pastor was closing the first message of the conference on Lordship—surrendering full control of your life to God. I’d zoned in and out the whole time. I knew the information already. I’d been doing the Christian walk for over half my life. I’d worked through the study and attended the same conference before. In fact, I’d taught at it.

So, my mind wandered. God had been Lord over my life for a long time…or had He?

I caught something he said along the lines of, “Maybe you’ve surrendered some of your life to Jesus, but not all of it. Maybe you’ve yet to trust Him with your family, or your marriage, or maybe your career. Maybe today you need to fully give Him all of it, not just certain parts.”

Tears flowed. I’d been really good at relinquishing my family and marriage to Him, but it hit me then that I’d held on to my career with a death grip. When it came to my writing profession, I didn’t fully believe He could keep His promises. I still tried to forge my way, relying on my strength to propel my career to another level, a bigger platform, and to an income-producing job my family could count on.

How could I have missed this? I told Jesus often I believed His Word and the promises He’d spoken to me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t.

Moments after my realization, it was prayer time, and I knew I needed it. I hadto surrender my career to His Lordship, to allow Him to be my King in all things. I went to my conference prayer partner and could barely spit out that I needed to relinquish my career to Jesus, and she started to pray.

There, in the quiet presence of God, words poured out, then she said, “God, You will use her writing for You. She will pen Your words for all to read.”

Here’s the kicker. I hadn’t told her anything about me. She didn’t know I was a writer. But that didn’t stop God from using her to speak promises over me once again. He is thatfaithful. Even in my weakness, He was there, waiting to bless and love on me.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.” In fact, a version of this verse is found in all four Gospels, and in two of them more than once, making no other saying more emphasized by Jesus. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; John 12:25) God needed me to get this Truth.

When we take up our cross & surrender our whole life to God, He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. Click To TweetWhen we hold tightly to parts of our life in an effort to make our own plans happen, we inevitably fail at all we’ve strived for. But it is when we take up our cross (v.23) and surrender our whole life to God, that He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. This is not a life without problems, but one full of peace in the circumstances because He’s on our side, leading the way like only a King of Kings can.
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Months later, I find that my mind doesn’t drift to the “what ifs” or “whys.” I don’t dwell on if one of my novels will be published, or how and if my platform will grow. I just take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Living without the weight of anxiety and fear has blessed me with a worry-less attitude, a joyful spirit to love my family, and a fresh mind to write those words God needs me to pen.I take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Click To Tweet

Maybe you find yourself as I did, having given Him control over only parts of your life but not the whole? Or maybe you’re needing to submit it all to Jesus? You can do so easily. Pray earnestly to Him. Repent for not giving Him your entire life and begin today a new path following your King.

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts in the comments below, or join the conversation on social media!

freedom, Relationships

The Self-Sufficiency Façade

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“What do I need you for?”

I said those words.

To my husband.

It was the worst thing I’d ever said to him. And it haunts me to this day.

Our marriage was in trouble. Our daughter was a toddler. I was earning six figures working full time, and felt I largely parented alone. My marriage was absent of good communication and growing in resentment. I was a mess emotionally, and probably lacking many hours of sleep. So, I felt compelled to utter those hurtful words; I could juggle it all by myself. I was independent and strong. I didn’t need him.

Of course, that wasn’t true, because being independent also meant I was alone. And self-sufficiency—being able to provide for my needs on my own—is a façade that I’d naively fallen for. I needed my husband like I needed oxygen, and I also needed God.

But I wasn’t humble enough to see that.

I had to accept my desperate need for God’s intervention. Only He could teach me how to love well. He could fill me up so I could demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to my spouse: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

By God’s grace, we’ve been married fifteen years now and that toddler is fourteen. I found my way through my independent and self-sustaining mindset. With a humble attitude, I accepted my need for my husband and strived for our marriage to get better.

But I also sought Jesus, and thankfully, my husband turned to Him too. This journey together hasn’t made our marriage perfect, full of only joy and peace without impatience or irritations, but it got us committed to the same things—God and each other.

I found out then that I will never not need Jesus.I will never not need Jesus. Click To Tweet My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1). And even when times are good, as heirs with Christ and having the Holy Spirit, we find our joy in Him (Romans 14:17). When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. Click To Tweet

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When we think we can do all on our own, we’re leaving out the biggest Helper of all. Turn to Him and surrender today so you can be free of the stressful drive to be self-sufficient.

Let’s talk about this! Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Click To Tweet

 

Prayer

Praying When Hate or Trials Get in the Way

 

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Hate is a word I never use unless I’m talking about cancer.

It’s a festering, growing batch of cells that leads to sickness and destruction in one’s body. When it attacks someone you love, everything within you rages and aches.

I detest the joy cancer steals, and the life it tries to take. I abhor its effect on families and the financial stress it creates. I especially hate the physical pain it causes and how it can trigger a wavering faith.

I wish it didn’t exist.

But it does. So my hatred is an ill use of my time. And, therefore, I avert my focus from disdain back to what I love— Jesus and my family. Yes, my little sister has cancer, but I choose to concentrate on my adoration of Him and her.

Watching someone I love endure pain erodes my heart a little each day, leaving me on the verge of tears constantly. But as I concentrate on Jesus, the Healer, and my love for my sister, I can rebuild some of that erosion.Watching someone I love endure pain erodes my heart, but as I concentrate on Jesus, the Healer, I can rebuild some of that erosion. Click To Tweet

Although to be frank, praying in the midst of heartache, no matter what kind, is challenging. I’ve counseled many to remember that God is good and loving and kind. But what good is there in this disease? Or maybe you’re asking, “What good is there in losing a loved one?” Or a marriage? Or a career?

My limited, human viewpoint has a hard time seeing through the cloud of grief. Sure, I notice droplets of joy along the way— a new medicine working, a successful surgery, a clearheaded afternoon— but the hardships remain.

So what can we do when we’re feeble and frail? KristenPrayerQuote1

We remember the Holy Spirit is interceding for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

These are heavy verses, so let’s break them down.

When we’re physically tired and spiritually drained, when we have no idea what to ask God for, or when anger confuses our judgment, we can count on the Holy Spirit for help. Click To TweetWhen we’re physically tired and spiritually drained, when we have no idea what to ask God for, or when anger confuses our judgment, we can count on the Holy Spirit for help. He’s our Advocate (John 14:26 & 15:26), who speaks to God on our behalf, and since the Holy Spirit is God living in us, who understands all things, He knows exactly how to pray for our situation. He will and can only plead for us according to the will of God. And since God is fully good and perfect, His will is also good for all.

I’ve sobbed to God with misplaced words and disjointed thoughts, finally crying out, “God, You know! You know!” He understands “what we ought to pray for”, and immediately does.

If you’re up against trials, a confusing path, or a hatred you can’t get past, drop to your knees and ask the Holy Spirit to “groan” on your behalf. Jesus knows what you and your loved ones need. Trust Him to get you through your battle.

Let’s talk about this! When has it been hard for you to pray? Share your thoughts in the comments below, so we can learn from and encourage each other.When has it been hard for you to pray? Share your thoughts, so we can learn from and encourage each other. Click To Tweet And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Relationships

Our Innate Need for Community

Quote from Rick Warren with background of friends

God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, and I’m not going to disappoint Him.”

That’s a powerful quote from my grandmother, something she said to my mother when she was a child. They apply, among other things, to how we do life with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God made us to come together and worship Him. Scripture reveals the importance of church community on every page! God wants us to live together and learn from, as well as teach, one another.

Christ-centered relationships, together in a community or church, were instituted by God.

Jesus is the foundation of church. (1 Peter2:5-7)

Paul helped spread it. (Acts 9:20)

And intended for us to continue it.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, He longs for us to do more than simply set foot inside a building, commonly known as a church, to worship Him on Christmas and Easter. Or, maybe, to do more than never set foot in one at all.

Let me be clear in how I define church. It’s a group of believers in an environment who seek to grow in their relationship with, and their understanding of, Jesus through many ways including music, prayer, discussion, and/or listening to a message.

This can be a small group held in a home or coffee shop, or a formal service in a traditional or contemporary setting. It can take place in a small or stadium-sized space, or any time and any day. Scripture shows church as place where people are gathered together to praise and learn about God.

Notice the use of we, us, and our in these verses:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [heaven], let us be thankful, and so worship God with acceptable reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …” (Psalm 95:6).

According to the gospels, Jesus gave sermons to thousands. He allowed groups to gather around Him as He revealed Scripture. I’m sure these people grew stronger in their faith and leaned on each other in hard times—like when their very lives were threatened after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, the accepted writer of two-thirds of the New Kristen speaker image and quoteTestament, elaborated on this, mostly in letters he wrote to churches. He loved to use phrases like, “Brothers and sisters” and “Dear Friends” when addressing first century believers. In Acts 9:15, we’re told he wanted his ministry companions to join him as soon as possible. They, his friends, were needed by the great Apostle. In Acts 2:42-47 we read an account of some of the first groups of Christians, known as a fellowship of believers.

The question is why? Why is doing ministry together better? I believe God uses us to help and grow each other. To pray for, meet a need for, to celebrate an answered prayer with one another.

God designed us to live in community, to never be alone, as my grandmother might say, in our journey on earth and with Him. In order to live this out, and using the Bible as our example, we must prioritize our time with other believers. We must walk alongside them and help each other worship Jesus and learn about Him.

Where do you stand? Are you heeding God’s call to remain connected with other Christians?

We’ve found, often it’s our fear of rejection that isolates us from each other. But God didn’t create us to live in fear! In Christ, He’s given us everything we need to live Bold and Brave! Join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences to gain tools that will help you develop deep community and walk in freedom. Find our more HERE.

Want us to come to you? Contact us HERE to find out about hosting your own Wholly Loved event or inviting one of our speakers to join you for your next women’s event.

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related resource: Included in Christ: Living a New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman