The Cost of Pride

Quote pulled from text on gradiant backgroundI might be the proudest person I know. I like to believe I’m right, that I know how to fix every situation and am the perfect person to do so, of course. I want others to think I’m smart, important, talented, successful. But I was called to so much more!

Whenever I give in to pride, I place myself in direct opposition to God and His purposes. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (NIV). That’s a strong statement! The word our Bibles translate as opposes, antitassó in the original Greek, means to square off,” “reject the whole arrangement,” and “is used in antiquity of organized resistance, like an army assuming a specific battle-array position to resist in “full alignment”; to disagree (oppose) intensely.]*”

Whatever my pride fights for, whatever I think I might gain in feeding it, that thing can never be worth the cost.

I cannot live for Christ and myself. I cannot build His church while chasing my agenda.

Self-love nearly destroyed my marriage. It told me my way was best, my needs and comfort most important. Oh, the damage my husband and I created, the trust we weakened, through our constant fight for self. But then God began to shift our hearts and our thoughts until they more closely aligned with His. He showed us, while pride creates ever-increasing dysfunction, mutual submission and humility lead to relational health.

This, Scripture says, is how we are to interact with one another:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
rather, He made Himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8, NIV).

But Christ’s motivation wasn’t lowliness for lowliness’s sake. Love, for you and I, drove Him to the cross. Nor did He fail to grasp His true worth. Not once did He think, “I am nothing, worth nothing.” Rather, His unshakable, certain identity enabled Him to so humbly die. He knew precisely who He was. His value wasn’t dependent on how others viewed Him, how prestigious He appeared, or the societal successes He achieved. Those standards were far too insufficient, too inferior, to ever encapsulate Christ. He was, and is, God’s Son, matchless in wisdom and power, the Savior to whom, one day, all knees will bow.

Similarly, God doesn’t ask us to humble ourselves to bend our backs. Instead, He knows where our gaze most naturally lies and also where it leads. We focus on ourselves, to our own demise. Our pride leads us into arguments, division, isolation, and defeat. It causes us to rely on ourselves, elevating our wisdom and strength above Christ’s, and thus to drift further and further from the only One with the power to save. And so, He bids us to die, so that in Him, we might truly live, unhindered, totally free, anchored secure in who we are and who we belong to.

In Christ, we’re chosen, redeemed, and empowered children of God, people of incomprehensible worth. How could we possibly seek alternative ways to define ourselves? By success? That fades, and rises and falls with man’s ever-changing standards. By our relationships with sinful and often fickle man? By our intelligence, which so often is challenged by the next idea or well-crafted argument? All of those things are far too insufficient, inferior, to encapsulate our worth and drive our actions.

When our identity is moored in Christ, however, our feet and our hearts remain firm, confident; Quote from post with gradiant backgroundwe’re empowered to love fully, as we are fully loved. Strengthened for humility, we begin to realize it is pride that is true weakness and our greatest deception.

Love, Christ’s love, soaked deep into every crevice, truly does set us free, enabling us to live and love as we were intended: free of fear, free of striving, of record keeping and conniving. This doesn’t mean we allow abuse, for love never tolerates disease. Rather, we speak truth, seek health, and the authority of Christ, our humble yet victorious Savior, over all, ourselves included.

Humility may appear to bend us low, but in reality, it elevates us to our rightful place—secure, for eternity, in our Savior’s love—the One who knows us, chose us, and calls us to greatness, not by man’s deceived and subjective standards, but His.

*Taken from Biblehub.com, 498. Antitassó, Copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.

And THAYER’S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com

Scripture taken from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Additional resources:

Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride by Fabienne Harford

Humility by Andrew Murray

On a different topic, I encourage you to read my latest article on iBelieve: How to Have Conversations With Difficult People.

Make sure to connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instagram.

Find her latest release, Building a Family, HERE.

cover image for Building a FamilyCreating a circle of love together…

Can love for two little matchmakers unite their reluctant hearts?

Worried that Noah Williams is still the reckless bull rider she remembers, Kayla Fisher is convinced he isn’t the right person to care for their orphaned niece and nephew. Now she’s back home, determined to fight for custody. But Noah is a changed man, and he intends to prove it. When Noah and Kayla start falling for each other, could raising the children together be the perfect solution?

Listen to her latest podcast episode, the Courage to Fight Against Fear, HERE.

Blessed Obedience –– Guest Post

If God told us ahead of time, where our steps of obedience would lead, I’m certain we’d surrender to His leading. Well, assuming everything turned out as we hoped. But then, therein lies the problem, right? We know God is good, loving, faithful, and true, and we know He will ultimately work all things out for our good, if not today, then in heaven. But what if the journey He calls us to between now and then is hard quote on obedience pulled from post with a sunset backgroundand painful? Does that question ever hinder your response? It has mine. But perhaps there’s a more important question we need to ask: what if, in our disobedience, we miss something amazing and life-changing? What if we miss the very thing God created us for?

Blessed Obedience
By Martha Rogers

“You need a change!” I slammed my notebook on my desk and plopped into my chair. One more confrontation with a principal about something over which I had no control led me to this angry comment. I didn’t realize the impact those words would have on life or where they would eventually lead me.

I taught at a public high school and loved teaching, but the principal’s temperament and his behavior with another teacher troubled me. In addition, my responsibilities with school and family gave me no time to pursue my ultimate dream of being a published writer. As I prayed about the situation, God confirmed my thoughts. “Yes, you need a change.” The words were as clear as if He sat next to me.

Our church had opened a private school for students from preschool to high school, and I thought about teaching there, but it would mean a cut in pay whereas transferring to another school in the district or going to another district wouldn’t.

With more prayer for guidance, the Lord tugged on my heart and pulled me toward the private school. I still held doubts, but after more prayer, I could no longer deny the call God laid on my heart. In 1981, I obeyed, applied at the private school, was accepted, and resigned my position in the public school.

At the time, I didn’t think of it as obedience. Instead, I saw the opportunity to get out of an unpleasant non-Christian environment. I loved the new school and the people there. The teachers became good friends who were willing to help each other and pray for each other. The teenage students I taught were typical teens with all different behaviors and attitudes, but for the most part easy to teach. I even had time to begin work on a novel I had in my head and wanted to write.

A few months ago, our First Place 4 Health group began a study called, Seek God First. One of the lessons was on obedience. On one day, the writer discussed the blessings and the rewards of obedience. She asked the question, “Has there been a time in your life when you were obedient to something God spoke to about?” That question took me back to God’s direction to change schools. As I looked at my life since that spring of 1981, I began to see that if I had not followed His direction in obedience, I would have missed so much He had planned for my life.

I had the opportunity to go back to college and earn my MEd in Curriculum with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I thought seventh and ninth grade English and loved it. However, after ten years, a new headmaster came in and told me, along with a number of other teachers, that our contracts would not be renewed.

Although I was able to procure a college teaching position because of my graduate degree, I held disappointment and resentment against God in my heart for a year. During that year God brought circumstances into my life I couldn’t have handled if I’d still been teaching full time. Once again God spoke to my heart and I realized I’d been grieving the Holy Spirit while being in the exact place God needed me to be at that time.

I released my resentment and prayed for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do and where He wanted me to go. He started me on the next part of the journey which would take me through major ups and downs until I finally reached where God wanted me to be.

While teaching at the college level, I worked on my novel, joined writing groups and attended writing woman writingconferences. I also battled breast cancer, but continued to write and teach as I went into remission. When the cancer returned, I sensed God wanted me to retire. I did and went through more treatment, and the cancer was healed.

Now I had the time to work on the novel, attend more writing conferences, and become more active in a local and national writing group. I met other wonderful authors and the woman who became my literary agent. I also had several magazine articles published, and stories selected for various compilations.

In 2009, another ten years after retirement, I received my first contract for a historical novel that led to six books in that series and two more four book series. In the next ten years I went on to publish over fifty novels and novellas.

If I hadn’t obeyed, I wouldn’t have had the time to return to school and earn my master’s degree. Without that degree, I wouldn’t have been able to teach at the college level when God took me from the private school. Then God gave me the time to work on my writing and attend conferences and to move forward.

Now, almost forty years later, I sit at my computer pounding out words in fulfillment of a dream I had as a child. God fulfilled my dream because I chose obedience to His call no matter where it led.

Let’s talk about this! Has there been a time when you went ahead with plans of your own without truly asking God what He wanted you to do? What was the result?

Why is it sometimes so hard for us to listen to what we know is right, but our hearts rebel against doing it?

Get to know Martha!

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published author from Realms Fiction of Charisma Media Martha Roger's Headshotand Winged Publications. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009. She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. ACFW awarded her the Volunteer of the Year in 2014. Her first electronic series from Winged Publications, Love in the Bayou City of Texas, debuted in the spring of 2015.  Martha is a frequent speaker for writing workshops and the Texas Christian Writers Conference. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their twelve grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Visit her online HERE.

Check out her latest release, Legacy of Deception:

Cover image for Legacy of DeceptionA case of mistaken identity, a long hidden family secret, a plan to take away a woman’s wealth, and a determined young woman’s plan to stop it, all lead to a family showdown when evil is uncovered and deceptions are.exposed that will change lives forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identity Theft––Combating the Fear of Insignificance: Guest Post

Quote from Tim Keller on Identity

Can you imagine the confidence and impact we’d have, the “offense” we’d avoid, the ministries we’d launch and opportunities we’d embrace, if we learned to live in who we really are? Who God says we are? And if we fully grew in to all He created us to be?

I’m pretty sure we all struggle in this area. I have moments of living fully anchored in Christ and others where I give other people’s voice and opinions way too much weight. Perhaps you can relate? My guest today, Caroline Powers, can. Read more to see how a shift of roles revealed a much deeper hole God wanted to fill, and consider how He might want to do the same for you.

Identity Theft: Combating the Fear of Insignificance

By Caroline Powers

Something was wrong with my life, but I had no idea what it was. I was thirty years old and the mother of a precious eleven-month-old son. My husband of eight years and I were returning from a Christmas visit with friends when I confessed. “I don’t know who I am. I feel like a hollow center surrounded by mirrors that reflect back to people the image they expect to see.”

At a time when I might have been enjoying our life, I felt only emptiness. We both had careers, we didn’t fight or treat each other badly, but my husband must have been feeling unsatisfied as well, because by the next Christmas he had moved out and was in another relationship. My heart was shattered by his betrayal, but the message my heart received from this was worse. If I meant nothing to the one person who supposedly loved me, I must be insignificant. The person I am must not matter at all.

Years later, I understand that fear of being an insignificant person drove me to perform for others. But even success left me feeling hollow because my achievements were a facade to hide behind. No matter how much I might impress someone, my true lack of self-worth remained untouched.

Whether our needs were neglected, or we’ve had hurtful, bad experiences, life sends messages about our worth. Without a secure foundation those experiences can come to define us. In the absence of truth, we conclude that our needs are trivial, our wants must be wrong, and that we ourselves are so flawed that we are not important. This is what happened to me.

Once my heart adopted the “insignificant” label, it was as if I put on glasses and interpreted everything through that lens. Before my life could change, I needed to take my filters off and learn the truth.

Psalm 139:13-14 assures us that God created our inmost being. He knit each of us together in a fearful and wonderful way (NIV). He gave us certain genes. He caused our birth into a family, a country in the world, and a time in history. None of those things were up to us, but they provide the set-up for our journey. Our very uniqueness makes us significant. Because each person originates from God, people do not define us. Only God has the authority to define and assign our significance.  And no one can take our place in God’s plan.

Verses 16-17 continue, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The Amplified Bible says, “the days that were appointed for me” and King James uses the word, “fashioned.”  From this we know that God continues to order our days and sovereignly oversee each one. So, whether our lives appear to be convoluted and messy or focused and right on track, one thing they cannot be, and we cannot be, is insignificant.

Our significance is also found in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61 when he began his earthly ministry by declaring that he was sent to bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives. (61:1). His earthly life ended on a cross where he took our sins into himself and died. But God raised him, and our sins were left in his grave. We gain a new life by faith in Christ. You and I may feel helpless, even hopeless, and unworthy at times, but considering the lengths Jesus went to, we are never insignificant.

Receiving Christ exposed my fear of insignificance as a lie. Now, I am guided by the truth that I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the works He prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Are there labels you need to reject and filters you need to remove? I encourage you to spend some time with Psalm 139, Isaiah 61, and other Scriptures. Compare God’s picture of you with the one you would paint of yourself.

Let’s talk about this! Where do you need to agree with God to conquer your fear insignificance? Share your thoughts and examples in the comments below.

Get to Know Caroline:

Caroline's author photoCaroline is the unpublished writer of a novel that speaks to the themes of grief, identity, and significance. For writing, she draws on her own experience as well as those gained serving in healing prayer ministry for individuals with emotional issues in her church. She became a Christian through the trauma of her divorce and has been remarried for thirty-five years. God has given her a daughter, two stepsons and four grandchildren in addition to the son she had before. Each of her children is unique. They are in various stages of faith in God and understanding their value to Him and other people. She prays for them daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more encouragement on resting in your Christ-given significance, make sure to check out my Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled Moving Past the Fear of Insignificance. Find it HERE.Faith Over Fear podcast episode logo

 

 

 

When God Speaks––Where Obedience Can Lead

Quote on following God's plan by Francis Chan

We’ve all sensed God nudging us to do something that appeared to make no sense. Maybe we sensed Him to pray for a stranger, speak certain words to a friend, or step into an area that you feel countless others in your circle would be more qualified for.

How do you respond in those situations? When you sense that nudge into the unknown, what fears most often hold you back? That you’ll fail? That you’ll embarrass yourself? That you’ll be misjudged or misunderstood? That you’ve heard God wrong and therefore will be venturing forward alone?

Years ago, after Wholly Loved’s first women’s conference, a woman approached me. Standing in that busy and noisy atrium, though I struggled to understand her words, her eyes and voice carried an unmistakable intensity. God had gripped her heart that day and planted within her the first seeds of her assignment. He wanted her to speak for Him.

But here’s the thing. At the time, she could barely speak. She’d suffered two back-to-back strokes less than a year prior, strokes that should’ve taken her life but instead, stole her mobility and her speech. By the time of the conference, she’d relearned how to walk, but was in the midst of retraining her brain to talk. As a result, she stammered and stuttered significantly through each sentence.

God was calling this woman, who could barely get her words out that afternoon, to stand on a stage and speak for Him. Can you imagine the inner angst, the wrestling, the questions that must’ve swirled through her brain as she sat in the audience, sensing God’s call? Maybe even fighting His call? The call to speak in general, but also the call to speak to me that day? Even if she was convinced, without a doubt, that God was asking her to do both, she had to worry how I might respond. At least, I would’ve. And then, assuming I got up and began to put feet to His call, I worry I would’ve talked myself out of obedience with every step I took.

But not Sarah Conaway, tri-founder of Stromies, a ministry to stroke survivors. She rose on her less-than-Anonymous Quote on looking forward with hopesteady legs, navigated around the throng of women gathering in the atrium, waited in line to talk to me, and then looked me in the eye and boldly said, “I want to do what you do.” She wanted to share her story, to proclaim, to whomever would listen, all that God had done.

The woman who was struggling to speak and likely had moments when she wondered if she’d be able to do so coherently ever again, wanted to publicly speak for Jesus.

That was less than five years, and God has done amazing things during that time. Sarah is indeed speaking for Him. Her story has quite literally reached across the globe. Her ministry has nearly 2,500 Instagram followers and 1,300 followers on Facebook. She’s spoken at Rotary, Kiwanis clubs, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was interviewed on her local Channel 3 station, and has spoken to numerous support groups.

And all because, even when obedience made no sense, she told God yes.

What’s God asking you to do? What’s hindering your obedience? Give those fears, all of them, to God. Give Him all your doubts, then, after you’ve done so, give Him your obedience. Your surrender, trusting your faithful, loving God to lead you to His very best.

Visit Sarah’s ministry HERE and find Stromies on Facebook HERE. Watch for Jennifer Slattery’s upcoming Thriving With Chronic Illness to hear her full story and how God’s using her. If you’re sensing a nudge from God but are struggling to find the courage to move forward, make sure to listen to Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear Episode on fighting fear of failure. You can find it HERE.

For those looking for perfect, timeless Father’s Day gifts, read her latest article on iBelieve HERE.

Gut-Level Compassion

Just over a week ago, I felt a depth of grief that completely overwhelmed me and left me intensely sick to my stomach. A depth of grief I’ve only felt a total of three times in my life, and each one leveled me and stuck with me. The first was when I was praying for someone I loved who did not personally know Christ. I was standing at the island in my kitchen, in the middle of praying, and was hit with what I knew, without question, was God’s intense love and emotion for the person I was praying for. God’s heart was deeply breaking in a way I, even now, cannot verbalize.

Then, as if in confirmation, friends from across the nation began flooding my inbox, telling me they were praying for this person and giving me further insight into God’s heart and the situation. And I just stood there, in my kitchen, and sobbed––for the entire day. I couldn’t stop sobbing.

About three, maybe four years later, I felt the same depth of grief while out on a “prayer walk.” I was researching Healing Love, a book on El Salvadoran orphans. At home, I had stacks of printed documents from human rights watch groups sharing stories of generational poverty, child labor, and all the horrors involved with the coffee, sugar, and tea industry.

Mid-afternoon, unable to process what I was reading, and frankly, not wanting to, I pulled away and went for a walk. As I was returning home, about ten minutes from my house, I was hit hard by a grief that nearly buckled my knees. And in that moment, God spoke clearly to my spirit and told me that I was feeling but a fraction of what He felt, seeing all the suffering across the globe in an instant. All the deep, deep pain. Hearing billions of His children cry out to Him in desperation, wondering if their prayers have been heard.

Just over a week ago, I once again felt a depth of grief that I am completely unable to explain and that I will never forget. It leveled me, made me ill, and triggered a colitis flare that has yet to abate. I cannot possibly describe the heaviness of sorrow. I wanted to run from it, to push it away, to distract myself from it. But instead, God invited me to sit in it, and to sit in it with Him. To feel but a small taste of the deep, visceral grief He feels right now for His precious, hurting children who are crying out to Him for help, for comfort, for strength.

In James 5, writing to Christians experiencing persecution, Jesus’s half brother wrote, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (ESV).

The word our Bible’s translate as compassionate, or “full of compassion” as the NIV puts it, isn’t found anywhere else in Scripture. Translated literally, it means, “many-boweled.” The ancients considered our bowels to be the seat of our emotions, and from my experience with colitis, I fully understand why. This is how our God and Savior responds to human suffering and pain––with a gut-level, visceral compassion.

Because He is both “many-boweled” and merciful.

Merciful. The original Greek word translated here also has a depth we must not miss. Oiktirmōn is a visceral compassion and means to experience deep, deep pity,. Here’s what struck me: This word is only used twice in Scripture, in James 5:11 and also by Jesus in Luke 6:36. “You must be compassionate (oiktirmōn,” He said, “just as your Father is compassionate” (NLT)*.

Just as. To the same depth and in the same instances. Our heart, our compassion, is to mirror Christ’s, the Savior’s who loved us to the point of death. That’s how visceral, how deep His compassion for us is.

Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours.

* Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Only Objective Source of Identity

I’ve tried to define myself a lot of different ways—to nail down who I am, or at least, who I’m supposed to be. But I always came up short. Initially, I tried to prove myself through education. I’ve attended eight different colleges in five different states and have pursued—not completed, mind you, but pursued—nearly as many degrees. And though I eventually graduated with a 3.96, my academic achievements ultimately amounted to little more than marks on a page.

They didn’t fulfill or define me.

I attempted to find my identity through sports, through parenting, through marriage. But though I found momentary fulfillment, even my most precious moments could not fill up all my empty places or my God-created need for significance.

I can’t measure myself against others or by temporary goals, as lofty as they may be. God wants me to go deeper, to ground myself in that which is eternal. Unshakable.

A while back, I praised my daughter for her integrity, revealed through a series of behaviors. Her response, “You’re my mom. You have to say that.”

Though I hope my accolades have more validity than she implied, I understood her sentiment. My affirmations were subjective, because they were just that—mine. And though I believe they encouraged her, they couldn’t reach the same place within her heart that Christ’s validation could.

Scripture begins with, “In the beginning God …” That’s where we begin as well—in God. We discover our value, identity, and purpose in the One who made all things, including our beating hearts. Colossians 3:3 puts it this way, “For you died,” –to our old way of life— “and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Only God, the Creator of all things, has the authority to assign our identity and define our worth.

He says we’re treasures worth dying for. That’s an identity worth protecting.

If you struggle with feelings of insignificance, or find yourself making decisions based on a fear of insignificance, I encourage you to check out episode 6 of my Faith Over Fear Podcast: Moving Past Fear of Insignificance. You can find it HERE. Life Audio also dropped my latest episode, recorded with a friend and theologian, Dave Montoya, titled Courage to Face Our Doubts. Listen HERE.

Anchored and Secure cover imageAnd make sure to grab a copy of Wholly Loved latest devotional Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace:

Thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

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

Ordinary Conversations With Our Loving God –– Guest Post

Quote on hearing from God, Rick Warren

“I heard God tell me that just the other day.” A sentence during a seemingly normal conversation pulled me out of my reverie and I stared at the speaker. “Could she have heard from God about something as mundane about her grocery choices? That seems a bit ordinary for God to stoop to let us know about.” It made me ask the question, “How do ordinary people hear from God? How do they talk to Him?”

Hearing from God is often a Christian cliché. It is something tossed about in everyday conversation, without much to back it up within the way their daily lives were led. I looked instead at the ones that were living out Christianity in a way that was admirable, but mostly straight to talking to Him myself rather than looking to someone on earth.

I knew I could hear His voice. To myself, it was like talking to friends. But I struggled to explain it to others that did not know Him. I found referring to God as more of a friend than a father easier to handle since I Quote on Hearing From God Charles Stanleyhad grown up with a father who was not very kind the majority of the time. I didn’t want the person I knew as God to be equated with someone that I didn’t want to be like, my earthly father.

I wanted a friend instead and as I read the word of God, I saw Him through eyes that might have been different than what was taught in church. He cared about ordinary people and their ordinary lives. When I spoke with Him, I did as I would a friend throughout the day, in my head and out loud. It didn’t seem odd to me when I heard Him answering me. It was not like some booming audible voice, but instead, like a friend would speak to me.

It is hard to describe, but it is like trying to describe how you know your mom is the one talking to you. You just know. It takes practice as you slow your life down to listen for His answers and sometimes, it takes time to hear.

Have you wanted to develop a real friendship with God where you hear His voice?

Here are a few tips.

  • Practice talking to God as you would a friend
  • Tell Him ordinary things about your life
  • Give Him a chance to respond
  • Journal your talks to look back upon and see how He answered

What are some ways that you have developed your relationship with God and heard from Him? I would love to hear!

Get to Know Martha!

Martha's headshotMartha Artyomenko- Mother of four sons, business owner, homeschool mom and aspiring writer.
 She stays busy writing book reviews, working, reading, mentoring and spending time in the outdoors of Montana where she resides.
You can find her on her website HERE or connect with her on Facebook HERE.

*Note from Jennifer: God doesn’t often speak audibly. He whispers truths to our hearts and minds. To learn more about discerning God’s voice, read:

How to Discern the Voice of God by Mary Margaret

5 Questions to Know if We’re Hearing From God by Lysa Terkeurst

Hearing God’s Voice by Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Before you go, fun news! My latest novel, Building a Family, released on the 19th. Woot-woot! You can snatch a copy HERE.

When Grief Makes it Hard to Hear God

Sometimes God’s voice seems so clear. Other times, and maybe even when we are most desperate to hear God, He seems silent. When that occurs, how do we respond? While we all have different journeys, we can trust that God will speak to us, in His way and His timing. He will speak to us uniquely, knowing precisely what we need to hear. But even more than that, we can trust that He is with us and will stay with us, always. Whether we “feel” His presence or not.

His heart? To lead us back to His embrace. My guest today shares how God helped her walk through an intensely painful time and how, for a time, she nearly lost her way.

When You Can’t Hear God

By Deb Gorman

For years, I thought that believers always listened to and obeyed God, myself included. Then I grew up. The truth is that there have been shining moments in my life when God led me, I did what He said to do, and what a blessing it was—for me and those around me. But only moments. Nice. Most of my experience with Christ has been trial and error, largely because of what I call the Me Factor. There’s been too much me and not enough Jesus. My ability to hear Christ is hindered when there’s too much of me and not enough of Him.

Let me explain.

Many times, I can’t hear God’s voice—even though I read my Bible every morning, pray for myself and those around me, and serve in various capacities in my church and community.

Why do believers sometimes get to a place in life when God seems to “go dark”? When we ask, and ask, and ask again, but our asking seems to get stuck in some great void above our heads.

Is there something that can turn the God-voice-knob to “off”?

Betrayal, when not handled well, can cause our spiritual ears to stop up, and stall spiritual growth. Betrayal is what King David, ancient Israel’s second king, spoke of in Psalm 55:12-15.

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart” (ESV).

Betrayal hurts the most between people who trust each other.

Over the years, my family has experienced many—too many—forms of betrayal. I won’t go into all of it. I’m sure you have your own stories, because betrayal has been part of our DNA since the first humans, standing naked before their Creator, pointed at each other and said, “He [she] did it”. (Gen. 3:12-13)

But I will say that those of us who have experienced the betrayal of suicide carry the heaviest burden of all. This was how my sister’s suicide felt to me—like a betrayal.

We had made promises to each other as we grew into young women. We’d always be there for each other. We’d tend to our aging parents together. We’d make sure our children knew each other, grew up together, loved each other. Even though she was younger than me, I looked up to her in so many ways. She cared for people in a way that I couldn’t. I admired her and depended on her friendship.

So when my beloved only sister—three years younger than me—committed suicide in March of 1989, I felt betrayed. A young mother of two small boys, she said good-bye to her husband, drove her two boys to their schools, then drove hundreds of miles away to a motel in Montana and ended her life.

So many things happened to her family and friends in the years that followed that one horrendous decision. I venture to say that all of us, in one way or another, walked away from God for a time. Some are still walking away.

Why? Because instead of prostrating ourselves at the foot of the Cross, we employed The Me Factor and made my sister’s suicide about us. I can’t intelligently speak to what was in the rest of the family’s minds, nor can I judge them. I can only see the results—from March 25, 1989 to today. We still share a brokenness that will only be healed in His presence.

But I can say out loud what I did.

I blamed God. Sometimes I still do. But, thirty-one years of heartbreak later, I know the truth. She not only broke my heart, she broke His. He was there with her in the room as she made the decision. He stood by her. And I’m sure He wept over her body with tears I will never be able to shed in this life.

For years, I couldn’t attend church. I couldn’t explain to my children why their favorite aunt would do such a thing. I couldn’t explain why their relationship with their cousins had all but died. Every black thought that entered my head was infused with why, why, why? Her decision became the focal point of my life. And then, I became the focal point of my life. The Me Factor took over, causing me to forget about her pain that led to her decision. It was all about me.

That’s the pity of it. I allowed her betrayal to lead me to do the same to the God who loved me. The day—decades later—that I could finally say, “God did not cause this. It was the pain of this broken world that caused it” was the day that I finally walked out of the gloom, back into the light of His presence. The day IA W Tozer quote on hearing God could once again hear God’s voice.

At first, His voice was faint, like the sound of music floating on the breeze from far away. But the more I let go of The Me Factor, the stronger His message became.

His message? It was I know, Deb, I know. I know you don’t understand, but I do. I know you  walked away from Me, but I haven’t moved. I know you have many questions, and I promise, someday you will sit on My lap and ask them. And I know the answer you need most right now. She is here with Me and I’m taking care of her.

This life will always contain sorrow. How we respond will either cause growth or stunt it. We must make sure we take the pain of our sorrow to the Only One who can heal. He’s got this.

  • What can you identify in your life that causes you to not be able to hear God’s direction?
  • What keeps you from experiencing the love He wants to pour over you?
  • What keeps you stuck in a period of stagnated growth?
  • Are you willing to take your bundle of pain and lay it at His feet—and trust that He understands? That He’s got this?

Get to know Deb!

Deb Gorman's HeadshotDeb Gorman, owner of Debo Publishing, is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, cleverly disguised as a wife, mom, grandmom, and author. Her purpose is to regift the Word of God to believers and seekers everywhere, using the talent and imagination God gave her. Her prayer is that His Name would be praised and His glory would fill the earth! Visit her online at debggorman.com.

Cover image for Leaving Your LoverCheck out Deb’s book, Leaving Your Lover: They Have Left the Path of Truth:

Have you ever confronted a fork in the road of life and paused, wondering which way to go? Or maybe you took the path that seemed most logical, without much thought.

Perhaps the new direction was the correct one…but perhaps not. What do you do if you travel the wrong path? You can’t seem to retrace your steps because a sweeping crevasse looms now between the right choice and the wrong choice, one you can’t traverse without grave risk of slipping and falling into a thousand feet of sharp-edged, rocky nothingness.

Read the stories of thirteen people from the Bible who stood at the fork and made a choice. See where their journeys took them. Pause at the fork in your road and make the right decision, not just for the here and now but for future descendants—your children, grandchildren, and generations beyond, doomed to suffer the consequences of a wrong choice and who scream silently at you to go back.

And if you’re now on the wrong road, don’t believe the lie that you can’t turn back. For the first terror-filled step into the great divide will lay out a cross-shaped bridge before you, stained with holy blood—the sure road that will lead to the beginning, where you will find grace to start again.

Buy it HERE.

You might also enjoy:

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

 

Join Me on Armida Miranda’s Deeper Connection With God Podcast

Hello, friends!

A while back, a podcast host contacted me, asking me to share some of my journey with Christ and how He’s led me to experience a deeper connection with Him. And, well, I love talking about the freedom I’ve experienced through God’s grace, so I was thrilled to except the invite. I’m also giving away two Bible studies (eversions).

I do want to mention, Armida interviewed numerous guests, and I don’t know their theology or perspective so encourage you to always filter everything you hear, not just when listening to podcasts but in all of life as well, through God’s truth preserved for us in Scripture.

Here’s more information:

She is a small business owner and as a single mom, raised two young men with God by her side. She relied on the Grace and Mercy of God many times throughout her family’s journey. Needing inspiration on a daily basis she sought out friendships and connections that would encourage her relationship with God.
Her dream is to allow Christ to touch individuals by bringing spirituality instead of worldly answers for those going through personal life challenges. She has gathered these speakers, all experts in their fields, to share their personal journeys with you and how they found answers by going to our heavenly Father.
It’s no secret that we all go through trying times. Getting reminders about how He empowers us to live with purpose and walk fearlessly in faith ties this summit together.
You can count on these things to be covered in this FREE online series launching May 11th and continuing for three weeks:
  • How to connect deeper with God every minute of every day
  • How to be calm when stressful times arrive
  • How to respond, not react
  • How God restores broken lives
  • How abundant life is to the Believer
  • Examples of how people have overcome physical, emotional & mental diversity through Him
  • FREE gift from every expert
Join me by clicking on the ACCESS button below; then fill in your information and click YES, I’m in!
Updates will appear in your inbox in the next few days.
I know Armida would appreciate it if you shared this FREE series with friends, family, and co-workers.

When God Speaks–Our Role

Listening to God on image of a flower

God is always speaking to His children, always guiding us toward His very best, but sometimes His voice grows faint amid the noise and confusion all around us.

Early in my parenting days, I was probably the most insecure, and often confused, mother around. I felt bombarded by advice, warnings, and contradicting tips from so-called experts. As a result, I routinely felt overwhelmed. Initially, I tried to raise our daughter in my wisdom and strength, largely because I hadn’t learned to discern God’s voice. Therefore, I gave too much weight to the faulty and often shifting “insight” of others and falsely believed I could make sense of it all.

This characterized every area of my life, actually, and in fact, had for some time. But my so-called intellect rarely brought the results I wanted, nor did I experience the peace and confidence I craved.

Granted, I did pray. Oh, how I prayed. Only I wasn’t always alert to God’s answers—in part because I rarely sat still long enough to hear Him. And when I did, though my heart initially pricked with the confidence and assurance that can only come from God, shortly after “common sense” or popular opinion overshadowed His perfect wisdom.

I often resembled a woman caught on an inflatable in the middle of the tumultuous ocean. James, Jesus’s brother, describes this scenario in James 1:5-8, and while he was speaking specifically on how we as believers ought to handle life’s difficulties, the principles he reveals apply to all of life.

James begins by encouraging us to seek God’s guidance, saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV)

This brings me such comfort because it tells me, in effect, that God doesn’t expect me to know it all. He doesn’t expect me to have life all figured out, or even to know His will perfectly. Rather, He expects me to seek Him, and when I do, no matter the question, no matter the struggle, He responds with grace.

And yet, responsibility comes with this access and invitation, for he goes on to say in verse 6, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,” hold tight to what God tells you, “because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When we doubt the very truths God Himself deposits into our souls, our thoughts become divided and disordered and we become unstable, pushed and pulled in whatever direction feels strongest or screams loudest. What an unsettling, if not terrifying, place to be!

Have you ever tried to swim or paddle in choppy water? I have, and it’s exhausting and defeating. For every stroke forward, the waves pull you two strokes back, then shove you to the right, then the left. Without a bright buoy to mark one’s course, it’s easy to get turned around completely and find yourself, hours of intense physical labor later, a long way from where you need to be.

A few years ago, our family vacationed to Hawaii. One afternoon, my daughter and I went paddle boarding in the ocean—over jagged Prayer for a listening ear on pink backgroundbalsamic rock and in waters where sharks truly do lurk. Close to the shore, I felt no danger, and so I relaxed and allowed the current to gently carry me farther out to sea. At some point, I became more alert to my surroundings and realized how far I’d drifted. The people on the beach looked so small and the water surrounding me so vast and deep!

I felt vulnerable, to say the least, and so I began hurriedly paddling back, but no matter how fast and hard I paddled against the waves, I didn’t seem to get anywhere. I only grew more tired, and certainly more frightened.

Praise God, I did indeed make it back, but that experience painted a vivid reminder of what life feels like when we’re not anchored to Christ and His truth. We’re unstable and unsettled, pinged from one philosophy or decision to the next.

Praise God there’s always grace, but life’s hard enough, y’all, without wasting time and energy heading away from our finish line and all the great things God has in store for us. We can trust Him to lead us toward His very best at every moment. But we must trust—trust that He will indeed guide us in His way and His perfect timing. And trust that His ways truly all best.

That’s not to say we’ll never experience doubt, but when we do, may we bring our questions and uncertainties to the One with all the answers. And when He speaks, we must choose to believe what He says, or soon we’ll discover we’re on treading aimlessly against life’s tumultuous waves.

What is God saying to you lately? How can you hold tight to the truths He’s already given you? How can you move forward in faith?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

Catch my Faith Over Fear podcast HERE.

Snatch my next release, Building a Family, HERE.

And find inspirational messages from my ministry team members HERE.

Additional resources:

The Divine Dance by Jennifer Slattery

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Discerning the Voice of God Bible reading plan by Priscilla Shirer

Also, don’t forget about our online book discussion this evening at 7pm CDT! We’re working through Breaking Free from Fear by MariaBook discussion invite Furlough. Contact me HERE for more information on how you can join us.

I also invite you to join Wholly Loved‘s private online Facebook community, a safe and encouraging place to share your struggles, fears, celebrations, and prayer requests. Find us HERE. And make sure to participate in our #freedomchallenge! All participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win all THIS.

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™