For Those Struggling This Father’s Day–Finding Then Living as a Godly Example

Image of woman staring out the window

Image by Caleb George on Unsplash

Our family’s brief venture into fostering resulted in colossal failure. Daily, we felt ill-equipped and overwhelmed. We’d gone into the endeavor with such hopes. We’d reveal Christ, bring healing, and ultimately point every kiddo that came into our home to eternal life.

We didn’t do any of that, at least, not nearly as consistently as we would’ve liked. In fact, there were many times we were anything but Christ-like. One thing I’m certain we succeeded in–we demonstrated what a healthy (albeit far from perfect) marriage and family looked like.

We all need godly examples. We can all set godly examples, as my guest, June Foster, reveals in her post below. As you read it, consider mentors, whether intentional or coincidental, God has placed in your life along with whom you can be a role model to.

Faithful Fathers by June Foster.

Father’s Day is just a few days away. No doubt you’ll honor your godly parent who’s always been there for you. Right? No, you say? My father beat me or left me when I was three. Then this post is for you!

Don Wildmon is the founder of American Family Association. His son Tim and grandson Wesley run the ministry today. In the June 2018 AFA Journal, there’s an encouraging story about how Tim learned to father his children because he had a godly example. He says the number one thing that affected his attitude was the way his father treated his mother.

husband and wife

Image by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

God’s ideal plan for families in raising their children is by parental example.

But wait. I know so many men and women who never had the privilege or opportunity to be nurtured by a Christian father. They only saw drunkenness, heard foul language, or witnessed abuse in their homes. And they grew up with bitterness and hate. What about those guys? Does God still loves them?

Let me tell you about one such person. His father beat and abused his mother then left her and five siblings when he was twelve to fend for themselves in financial trouble.

This young man hurt but as a young adult found a “friend.” Alcohol. This “friend” soothed his bitterness for years. But this “friend” was fickle. The morning after the binge, the hurt and pain always returned, and he had to imbibe all over again.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Eventually, this man discovered another Father. The Lord God. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually God showed him who He was. How much He loved him.

Today, this man has no more need to numb the pain of rejection from his earthly father because he’s found another Dad. Hallelujah.

I praise God for the Wildmon family, but if you grew up without that example, take heart.

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9, ESV).

For those of you struggling this Father’s Day, can you allow God to replace the earthly father you never had? He will never leave nor forsake you. (Heb. 13:5) For those of you with amazing fathers, what can you do this week to provide the same type of godly example to those within your sphere of influence? And to all of us, this weekend, as we celebrate the men God has placed in our lives (or perhaps, for those who are mourning the fathers they lost or never had), may we take time to draw near to our Heavenly Father.

Before you go, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter! You’ll receive great, inspirational content sent directly to your inbox each quarter. (You should also receive a free, 36-lesson study in ebook form, so please contact me through this site if you do not.)

Speaking of relationships, and potentially hurtful ones, make sure to pop on over to Wholly Loved Ministries’ site to watch my short devotional video on moving past rejection. You can find it HERE. And for those interested in my latest release, Dancing in the Rain, make sure to check out the latest reviews HERE.

Get to know June!

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. Her characters find themselves in tough situations but overcome through God’s power and the Word. She writes edgy topics wrapped in a good story. To date, she’s seen seventeen contemporary romances and several short stories published. Find June online at junefoster.com.

Check out her latest release, a Home For Fritz!

All Brooke Cantrell wants is two weeks to live Brooke Radcliff’s life. But the one person who knows the truth resides in the room next to hers at Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch. When Brooke falls in love with the handsome wrangler who works on the ranch, will her employer’s daughter tell him the truth Brooke hides?

Garrett Bowman has finally found peace under Wyoming skies at Sunrise Peaks Guest Ranch. Never again will he return to the demanding corporate life in Seattle, Washington. But will the guests recognize him from the incriminating newspaper and magazine articles eighteen months ago?

When Garrett’s dog, Fritz, is in grave danger, an intriguing guest helps Garrett get his golden doodle to the vet. As Fritz heals, he whines and begs until he can lay his head in Brooke Radcliff’s comfortable lap. Fritz has fallen in love, but so has Garrett.

If Garrett discovers Brook’s secret, will he walk away from her?

If Brooke learns Garrett’s true identify, will she turn from him like all the others?

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The Power of a Life Lived Well

Quote with background image of a strong woman

When all the violence, uncertainty, and hatred in the world bombards me, I have to remind myself I’m much more than a hopeless bystander. I possess great power—the power to impact lives, perhaps even entire communities, for good.

Do you remember the Saved by the Bell Days? When cartoons weren’t filled with sexual innuendo? When school shootings didn’t occur daily and parents’ concerns centered on their child’s grades and not whether they’d make it home alive.

Increasingly, this is the environment we live in, that my daughter is growing up in, and watching it all unfold, I can easily become paralyzed. I can believe the lie that our world is beyond hope and my choices don’t matter, not in the overall scheme of things.

But then I read about King Josiah, a young man who, upon discovering God’s forgotten law during a time of rampant and widespread idolatry, instituted complete and instant reform. (2 Kings 23:1-20) He burned altars erected for the Amorite and Moabite gods, annihilated pagan priests, and initiated a widespread return to godly living.

This took courage, perseverance, passion, and conviction—the kind that motivates one from merely seeing a problem to actually taking steps toward solving it.

Granted, as king, Josiah had much more power and influence than you and I, but no matter where we live or whom we encounter, we still have influence—and the power of the risen Savior residing within. So, in that sense, we actually have more power than an earthly, albeit godly, ancient king.

We know this intellectually, but I think sometimes we forget, or maybe we think, because we don’t always see the impact of our actions, that they have little effect. But God’s word says differently. Scripture promises every time I tear down idols in my heart and set it firmly on the things of God, more of the Holy Spirit’s power is unleashed in me. Whenever I choose love over hate, sacrifice and generosity over selfishness, and obedience over rebellion, God’s glory is revealed in me.

Through obedience, my life shines like a bright light or star in a culture of darkness, hatred, and pain. quote image with candles in the dark(Phil. 2:15) We likely will never physically tear down idols and pagan altars, like Josiah did, but each day, as we live for Jesus, our actions are tearing down strongholds. With each kind act offered, word of truth spoken, and life touched, we’re sending out ripples of hope and life that miraculously extend beyond us, our neighborhood, and even our generation.

Never underestimate the power of a life lived well.

How an OCD Christian Grabs Hold of Peace

woman lying in bed

Image by MMPR on Unsplash

My obsessive, OCD mind tends to latch on to the frightening, the hard, the disappointing. The offensive or unkind. And the more I fuel negative thinking, the more miserable, anxious, and insecure I become.

How can I have the peace of God if I’m constantly stressing over what ifs or rehashing old hurts?

The night before He was to die, knowing the grief and terror His disciples would soon experience, Jesus gathered them together and made some horrific predictions:

I’m going to leave you.

The world’s going to hate you.

You’ll be imprisoned and expelled from your faith community.

In man’s misguided zeal for God, they’ll seek to execute you.

And perhaps the most difficult to hear of all: In your darkest hour, All of you will abandon Me.

But sandwiched in the middle of this frightful news, He said, in essence, “I’m leaving you with a gift—verse image John 14:27peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you is a gift the world cannot give.” His next statement must have felt incredibly frustrating: “So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

As if it were that easy. As if one could simply decide, once and for all, to squelch their anxiety regarding a situation, and viola, all is well and joy follows.

My husband’s made countless similar statements:

Relax, Jen.

Let it go.

Chill.

If you’re female, you know precisely how effective such suggestions can be. And yet, Jesus isn’t my husband. He’s my Creator, my Savior, my Lord, so when He tells His followers, which includes us, to do something, we’d be wise to listen. He wasn’t the type to offer empty platitudes.

So was he speaking to men, then? When a man’s worried about something, they simply grab the remote, plop on the couch, and lose themselves in the football game, all concerns forgotten.

When we women grow concerned about something, watch out.

But … it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to live enslaved to fear.

In Christ, we have everything we need to live—and think—victoriously, in a way that reveals His power within us. But that doesn’t mean it won’t take determined effort and practice as we learn to toss out negative thinking, whatever its root, and fix our thoughts on those things that are good, true, admirable, and worthy of respect.

I’ve found I can’t do both. I can’t simultaneously obsess on the hard or the frightening and the truths of Scripture. At each moment, we’re entertaining one or the other. The challenge, then, is to do all we can, intentionally, to starve one type of thinking while feeding the other until our thoughts consistently mirror Christ’s.

That, my friends, is when we begin to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.

In the middle of our most anxious moments, we can stop whatever we’re doing to:

  • I’ve found it especially to praise God for all His attributes. “Lord, You’re all powerful, all loving, all knowing. You’re faithful and attentive.”
  • There’s something about praise music that stills my heart and calms my soul.
  • Recite truth. There’s power in God’s word. In fact, of all the spiritual weapons listed in Ephesians 6:10-18, Scripture is our only offensive weapon. All the other weapons are defensive.
  • Engage in something positive. Though my brain isn’t easy to distract, finding something active to do, like vacuuming, going for a walk, or purging the coat closet helps.

Let’s talk about this! When anxiety or fear hits, do you tend to obsess over that thing or turn to God? What are some tools you’ve found that help you move from fear to faith? Do you have any favorite Scriptures you rely on? Share your thoughts, examples, and suggestions with us in the comments below, because this is an area we all can grow stronger in!

I also encourage you to engage with Wholly Loved’s Facebook page as we’ve been talking about ways to break free from fear. And make sure to check out one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences where you’ll learn how to break free from the shackles of fear to live in freedom. Find out more HERE.

And before you go, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, recipes, devotions, and more! You can sign up HERE.

Using Truth to Expel Fear

verse image Isaiah

We can cower to fear or stand firm on God’s truth.

I met today’s guest about a month ago at a writing conference, and we connected relatively quickly. Working on final edits for Dancing in the Rain, a novel with a blind main character attempting to navigate her way to independence (and being a woman, as grown as I am, who’s afraid of the dark, uncertainty, and change), I had recently begun to see my world differently, as the sight-impaired might. And I marveled at the strength one like Loni and Jena Fellers must have to not only survive in this busy, chaotic, rapid-paced world, but thrive and fully live for Jesus, no matter the challenges.

So, I asked Jena, a woman who’s done just that, if she’d share her thoughts on fear. I know you’ll be as encouraged as I was.

But first, I need to share a new law or requirement bloggers have encountered–one I’m still attempting to figure out. I imagine this is to counter spamming and intended to protect all of you. You can read more HERE, but if I understand correctly, I need to send all my subscribers a message re-inviting them to subscribe and letting them know precisely how their information will be used. (In other words, that by subscribing to my blog, you will receive blog posts–and your info will not be used for anything else.) My brain is still trying to process it all, but apparently, I must be in full compliance within 3 days. Prayers appreciated!

Now for today’s inspirational message:

How Truth Expels Fear

by Jena Fellers

“Mommy, there’s a monster in my closet!”

Fear seizes us at a young age. It first invaded mankind in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command  by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Their eyes were opened to good and, evil. . .raising a new awareness. Afraid of God, they hid. (Genesis 3)

Ever since, the devil has put many fears in man’s mind:

* loneliness and abandonment
* spiders, snakes, and mice
* darkness
* accidents,  and natural disasters
* failure, or success
* death, or losses
* inadequacies

Fears will come, but God gave us a tool to defeat it–His Word. With Scripture, fear can flee as fast as lightening bolts strike.

God’s Word worked for me back in college. I suffered from night blindness and tunnel vision, courtesy of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Knowing His protective power from reading the Bible comforted me. I could stroll alone after night classes without fearing muggers, sexual predators, or stray animals.

The funny thing is, nothing scared me, but it’s close relative, worry, consumed me. I felt anxious about:
* passing tests
* hiring assistants
* money
* accessibility  to courses
* housing

I learned worry is the opposite of faith and didn’t want to disappoint my Heavenly Father by not trusting Him. Proverbs 3 :5 tells us to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.Image of man reading his Bible

Phil. 4:6 boldly states “Do not be anxious in anything…” In other words, we shouldn’t worry or be afraid. Those emotions steal God’s peace.

Years later, after losing all sight, I put this concept of trusting deeply in God and His Word into practice. On a Sunday evening, a storm blew in from nowhere.

The sunlight peered through our country home  windows as the television announced a severe thunderstorm warning. My pastor husband chose to hold evening services since it should miss us.

Hail soon pounded our van. On the ride (over the phone), I attempted to calm family members who were afraid it was a tornado; not a thunderstorm. I was oblivious a rope-like tornado had started playing chicken with our van.

Realization dawned as Steve whipped in our church parking lot, told our daughter to run inside, grabbed me, and promptly laid me down next to the external wall. We prayed as his body covered mine, and the tornado struck the opposite side, spraying debris all around us.

I was amazed at the overwhelming peace I felt, especially learning the reason we stayed outside was because the wind had hurled a board directly at my head.

When praying, I focused on asking God for help, and peace. I concentrated on placing my complete verse image for 2 Tim 1:7trust in Him, regardless of the outcome. Trust is faith. It also helped knowing fear doesn’t come from God, but from satan. “For God gave us a  spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).

We don’t have to live enslaved to fearful thinking. According to Romans 12:2, we can renew our mind, and Phil. 4:8 tells us how.

Next time fear’s symptoms arise (nausea, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, anger, or light-headedness), choose to stand on the truth of God’s Word. If you’re stubborn like me, then ask yourself whose report will you believe? You’re either believing a lie or God’s truth. Will you believe the lie trapped in your mind, or God’s Word?

We have the power to take every fearful thought captive, lock it up, and throw away the key. The choice is ours.

Let’s talk about this! What fears haunt you, and how do you fight it? What other verses are helpful

Get to Know Jena!

Jena Fellers walks by faith; not by sight. . . physically, and spiritually. Three adult children and four Author photo of Jena Fellersgrandchildren fill her with joy. Serving alongside her husband, they have pastored Trinity Worship
Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas for twenty years. Having little to no vision hasn’t stopped her. They founded Word in Action Ministries in 2009. It rebuilds lives through feeding and more.. This year marks their millionth meal served – all without knowing where money, or  help, would come. God truly provides.

Jena plays her flute on the praise and worship team, and teaches Children’s  Church and Sunday school. Thanks to an affordable screen reader, Jena now pursues writing. She loves to  excite, educate, and encourage others to follow Christ a little closer through speaking and blogging. Her first book, “Faith Footprints” is underway.

Visit her website HERE, follow her on Facebook HERE, and check out her ministry (cofounded) HERE.

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For those who are local, make sure to join us for Wholly Loved’s next Bold and Brave Conference on June 23rd in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can find out more and register HERE.

Before you go, if you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I encourage you to do so.

Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox, and a thank you gift–a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

I also encourage you to sign up for Wholly Loved’s free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month.You can do that HERE 

Speaking of freedom, I also invite you to read my latest Crosswalk article on 10 prayers that can help transform your finances. You can read it HERE.

I also invite you to visit Wholly Loved’s website to read about those fears that creep up on us and how we can fight them. You can do that HERE.

For the Joy That’s Coming

Image by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

I’m not a fan of long car rides filled with squished and soggy sandwiches that fell to the bottom of our cooler. I never enjoyed listening to our daughter ask, a thousand times: “Are we there yet?” And I don’t like traffic or long stretches of highway with no rest areas in sight.

And yet, our family has intentionally engaged in numerous road trips. The most memorable, and miserable, was when our daughter was twelve. The day before we left, I took her to the orthodontist to receive braces and a contraption called a mara designed to help her lower jaw, which wasn’t growing, catch up with her upper jaw.

The orthodontist warned us she’d be uncomfortable for a day or two, but nothing she couldn’t handle with a steady dose of Motrin. And perhaps that would’ve been true, had she not made a face-plant into the asphalt during recess that very afternoon.

I cleaned her up, gave her some Motrin and a smoothie, and sent her to bed.

The next morning, hours before the sun rose, I loaded our van with snacks, drinks, suitcases, and water toys—everything we’d need for a wonderful Florida vacation. Then, ready to embark on a long-anticipated trip, I dashed inside and upstairs to wake our daughter. (My husband was meeting us there by plane.)

Leaning over her bed, I gentle nudged her. “Sweetie, it’s time,” I said in that sing-songy voice every parent gets when waking their child for their first ever Disney World vacation.

She moaned and rolled over.

And I blinked and stepped back.

Her face! It was swollen, her lips, also swollen, were horribly scabbed, and I hated to think what the inside of her cheeks might look like.

It was obvious she was in pain, and we had a 1,237-mile drive ahead of us—with nothing to distract her from her throbbing face. Stuck in a vehicle for twenty-four hours, not including stops, would be difficult for any fifth grader. But one with a swollen, sore, and bloodied mouth?

And yet, neither of us considered, for an instant, not going.

Why? Because we knew the fun that awaited her would make all her discomfort worth it. Would perhaps even make her forget her pain entirely.

I believe this was the same understanding Paul, the author of Philippians, had, as he sat in a prison cell, waiting to learn, post-trial, whether he’d be allowed to live or die. He knew the glorious future that lay ahead, not just for himself, but for all who believed in Christ. This is why he could say, without hypocrisy, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1, ESV).

A young girl’s trip to Disneyland, sore mouth or not, might seem an insufficient comparison to the persecution Paul suffered and his hope of heaven. And yet, to a child, Disneyland is about as big as it gets, and the pain our daughter endured was significant enough.

But not so significant that it hindered her joy and anticipation of what was to come.

Life is full of frustrations, disappointments, and difficulties. Sometimes our pain is transient, like my daughter’s was. But for others, like those dealing with chronic illness or depression, it can feel like the darkness will never end.

And yet, Disneyland is coming. That is where our hope lies, when we stand before our Savior, enveloped in His love—in heaven, when He’s made all things right and all pain nonexistent.

On our darkest nights, when the road ahead feels steep and long, may we intentionally turn our eyes off of the struggle and instead onto what we know lies ahead.

Before you go, if you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I encourage you to do so.

Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox along with a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

I also encourage you to sign up for Wholly Loved’s free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month.You can do that HERE 

Avoiding in Your Face Evangelism

We’re often called weird, intolerant, and out of touch. We long to share words of life with others, to point them to the only source of hope, but our fear of rejection or backlash can hold us back. Stepping out with courage and intentionality can be extra hard for the shy introverts. But though it is important to boldly speak truth when God directs, regardless of what we do or don’t say, the gospel shines through. Or, as Jodie Wolfe explains, at least, it should.

Avoiding in-Your-Face Evangelism

by Jodie Wolfe

 

 I’m not an ‘in-your-face type’ of gal but chances are that phrase immediately stirred mental images of some folks you’ve come across. When I was in college, I was part of the Evangelism Team of our Christian Fellowship group. Not an easy thing for a timid introvert like me. After athletic events, our team handed out tracts and talked to people about how they could be assured of where they spent eternity.

My heart pounded, palms sweated, and most times I felt sick. It probably wasn’t encouraging to see a nervous girl, shaking and pale, talking to you about heaven. (Chuckle.) Since then, I’ve learned there are many ways to point to God. Not that we shouldn’t be bold when God asks, but it’s okay to be who He created us to be too. In fact, I think sometimes our faith shines through most clearly when we authentically share the hope of Christ.

I love the way Scripture talks about having a quiet or gentle spirit. Here are two of my favorite passages:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your woman sitting outside with text from 1 Peter 3 verses 3 and 4adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV).

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” ( 1 Timothy 2:1-4, ESV).

I firmly believe that I can point others to Christ through a quiet, meek spirit that hopefully shows God working through my life. I’m not afraid to share about my faith online or to say something when prompted. For me though, I think my greatest witness comes from how I live my life each day. My actions say so much more about how I respond when faced with difficulty. What are the first words out of my mouth when I’m mad, upset, or happy? Does my conduct show what is in my heart and point to a power within that’s made perfect in my weakness?

I have to ask myself, am I being an ‘in-your-face’ Christian, or am I living a quiet, meek life that points others to Him?

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Let’s talk about this! We are each intentionally unique–by God’s design. We each have a glorious purpose–to know God and make Him known. When under Christ’s lordship, our uniqueness feeds directly into our purpose, meaning, God can use us as we are, whether we’re eloquent or stumble over our words, are outgoing or shy, creative or analytical. We are each imago dei, and as such, reveal Christ. What are your thoughts regarding Jodie’s post? Do you agree with her statement that a life lived well is the most powerful proclamation of the gospel we can give? When have you seen this to be true?

Before you go, if you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I encourage you to do so.

Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox along with a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

I also encourage you to sign up for Wholly Loved’s free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month.You can do that HERE 

Get to know Jodie!

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at http://www.jodiewolfe.com.

Visit her online:

At her website, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Check out her latest release, To Claim Her Heart:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

Those Hidden, Seemingly Innocuous Sins

Man with fingers crossed behind his backWhen do you find it most difficult to live with integrity? And where’s the line? Do you view some behaviors, like “borrowing” a hand towel from the hotel room or perhaps snatching a few boxes of staples from work, as being harmless? What if the drive through cashier accidentally gave you $10 extra change? Would you count that a blessing, or would your heart prick, motivating you to turn back and around and rectify the error?

My guest today shares a time when she was confronted with just such an instance, one that, depending on her response, challenged her convenience. Read on to see what God showed her through this experience.

Are Half-truths Really a Big Deal?

by Lori Closter

Maybe no one’s watching … but small sins matter.

We’re loading groceries into our car in the parking lot and, as the cart empties, see a small bar of soap. Or a jar of salsa or bag of M&M’s. Something small and alone, unbagged, that we unknowingly smuggled out of the store. And it’s pouring out or freezing or a heat wave, Baby cryingand our toddler’s still screaming for an Oreo or, if we’re older, our bad hip is whining because we did all that raking this morning when we knew better.

Whatever the circumstance, the store looks a mile away, and a molehill resembles a mountain.

What to do? Leave it in the cart, in the cart-return “garage”? Hand it off to the employee conflating those carts into a train to trundle back to the store, and hope s/he’s honest? Or—do the right thing, because God is always watching?

We all know the answer: Do not steal is one of The Ten Commandments. But does honesty really matter in trivial things?

A pastor was once given far too much change from his bus fare and, after some internal struggle due to the inconvenience involved, returned the correct amount to the driver. To his astonishment, the driver grinned and said something like, “Thanks, pastor. I’ll see you at church on Sunday. I just wanted to know if you were for real.” A soul saved?

The rewards for honesty aren’t always so clear-cut. My husband and I once drove back to a home improvement store to correct a $1,100 mistake. Somehow, we’d gotten a free generator. When we pointed out the error, the salesclerk completed the transaction without batting an eye. We were indignant afterward. Shouldn’t our honesty have been acknowledged, maybe even rewarded, as people are who turn in lost wallets to the police? At the very least, we felt we deserved a letter of appreciation from the store headquarters.

Image of woman looking out the window with the text of Luke 17:10Scripture addresses this too, in an illustration of an employer who’d assigned his servant a task. “Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10, ESV).

No one may seem to be watching. But God is. The day I found the unbagged item in my cart, I did go back. I received no discount or reward (unless you count the surprised look on the face of the customer service employee), but knew I’d kept a “clean slate” or more accurately, heart, before the Lord. “Virtue is its own reward,” John Henry Newman said, and each step on our faith walk strengthens us for the challenges ahead.

If we search our hearts, do we find tiny sins whose unanticipated consequences could damage others? Do half-truths or unkind words tarnish our “light”? Do we drive as if a two-foot high Christian fish symbol were glued to our car? (Ouch!)

Your turn …

Get to Know Lori!

Lori Closter's author photoLori Closter is an assistant pastor’s wife in the spiritually dark Northeast, a mom, and a grammy. Educated at Cornell and Temple Universities, early on Lori wrote non-fiction and worked on educational films made for National Geographic. She then became a Christian, married, and homeschooled her children for many years. During that time, she felt led to study fiction writing and published three stories (one in the teen mag Brio) and a humorous poem that appeared without her knowledge under the byline of the narrator—a goat. Lori kept writing until she dreamed she was showing a film without a take-up reel, and film was spooling all over the floor. She felt God was making a point and is currently (finally) seeking an agent for her mature YA novel, a 2017 Genesis semi-finalist. Her story collection, Riding the Elephant, is also entered in several contests. Lori prays her writing will not only bless Christians, but find its way, like the Apostle Paul, to beyond “where Christ has already been named” (Rom 15:20), bringing hope to the lost. Contact her at Lori@LoriCloster.com or on Facebook if you’d like to be kept posted!

(Note: the novel title is withheld to comply with 2018 Genesis rules. Any YA judges, please do not visit the website now.)