Woman standing on a country road with quote pulled from post.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s this: Life will be tough, and you can’t plan for everything. We can wear ourselves out trying, fill our brains with all sorts of information we hope will help us stand firm through the next recession or global pandemic. Or we can travel light and alert, releasing our fear and expectations, with our arms linked and our hearts set on Christ. 

That’s the only way we can truly run this race well, and we’ll need God’s help to do so. May He inform our prayers and our steps. 

Like many of you, I’m anticipating a busy fall, and honestly, I’m feeling a bit nervous. I know God is leading me and more than sufficient for all I and my team might need. But I also know I’m going to be more dependent on Him, and potentially, others, than ever before. I know, if He doesn’t “come through” I’ll fail, in so many areas. 

And yet, I’m determined not to evaluate my time and assignments through my abilities and limited perspective. Instead, I’m trusting God to lead me step by step and to give me all that I need.

He’s been so faithful. Each morning, as I open my Bible, He lovingly, gently, speaks to my soul, encouraging and preparing me for all that’s ahead. Alerting me to challenges, those obstacles and storms I can’t yet see but He can. 

In response, He urges me to unite myself with His mission-minded children, and to pray, as He instructed His disciples when He sent them out in pairs to preach His truth. 

Scripture says, “Now after this,” likely referring to when He sent out the 12 in the chapter prior, “the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one along the way’” (Luke 10:1-4, NASB).

Jesus wanted His disciples to travel light and to remain dependent on Him, but He didn’t want them to journey alone. Not only did He pair them up, thus providing them with the support they’d need to stand confident and firm when surrounded by “wolves.” But He also told them to ask God to raise others up to help further His mission.

Women friends with quote from post

I was struck by how often I get this backwards. When I see a large assignment, I tend to take off running, recruiting people to help along the way. But notice, Jesus told His disciples to pray first, and not just to pray but to “plead” with God that He would raise up allies and coworkers. This reminds me of the importance of the mission and how much I need co-laborers. I’m to pray for them with the desperation as if I was praying for myself. 

I’m left wrestling with this: When was the last time I felt that level of urgency for those who don’t know Jesus? 

When did I last surround myself with those brought to tears over the condition of someone’s soul? 

How might you answer those same questions?

Lord, help us to live with deeper dependence. Dependence on You and one another, because we know this mission of breaking through darkness with light is too big and too important for us to race forward alone. Touch our heart afresh. Draw us so close to Yourself that our hearts and prayers resembles Yours. And raise up Your children. Ignite our souls, link our arms, and mobilize our feet.  

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

And check out the latest Faith Over Fear podcast:

The Courage to Speak Truth – Ep. 76 Faith Over Fear

Our world has become increasingly angry, argumentative, and hostile to the gospel and biblical truth. Unfortunately, the church is, in part, to blame; we’ve become more known for what we’re against than for what we are for. But we mustn’t let the hateful misrepresentation of Christ silence our voice. People need the hope and power of Christ now more than ever. In this episode Jennifer Slattery and Ava Pennington discuss ways to increase our courage while simultaneously upping our truth and grace. Find Ava Pennington at: https://www.AvaPennington.com https://www.facebook.com/AvaPennington.AuthorPage https://www.instagram.com/avapennington3/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Group Discussion Questions: 1. What encouraged you most during today’s episode? 2. What are some emotions you would have struggled with, had you been in Timothy’s position? 3. What emotions arise when you consider initiating spiritual conversations with others? 4. When do you find it most challenging to share your faith? 5. Why is it important to remind ourselves of our calling (whether that’s in a particular role or the general call to share Christ with others) during times of opposition? 6. What are some ways you can “fan” your gift “into flame”? 7. How can asking questions help reduce our listener’s defenses? 8. Why is it important to balance truth with clearly revealed grace? 9. Consider a time when someone came at you with grace-less truth. How did you respond and why? 10. Consider a time when someone spoke truth to you in a gentle and grace-filled way. How did you respond and why? 11. Why is it important to establish a relationship with someone before attempting to speak truth into their life? 12. What is one action step God might be wanting you to take this week? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. The Courage to Speak Truth – Ep. 76
  2. The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75
  3. Introducing: Reframed The Power of Perspective
  4. Healing from Religious Abuse (with Philip Yancey) – Ep. 74
  5. The Courage to Seek Counseling – Ep. 73

Woman in yellow sun dress jumping.

How salty are you? When people encounter you, when they view your actions and your relationships, do they walk away intrigued? Maybe even enticed to experience the life you have? Or do they sputter and spit, thinking, “Man, I do not want more of that”?

My family and anyone who’s ever visited my house for dinner will be the first to tell you, I stink at cooking. I won’t entice anyone with a fresh cooked meal. I do hope, however, that you’ll join us for relational reasons. That you’ll discover that we’re loving and gracious people of integrity and be drawn to that. To us and, hopefully, the God who empowers us.

Love. Grace. Integrity. I believe that’s a powerful combination able to dispel the false and often negative associations our culture attaches to Christianity. When we live what we claim to believe, consistently yielding to the Holy Spirit within, many times, we find our words aren’t all that necessary.

Quote from post on yellow background

Now, please don’t mishear me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share truth. As a faith-based writer and speaker, I spend a good deal of time doing that, after all. What I am saying, however, is that our day-to-day actions should speak loudest and clearest. And if they don’t? Then we’ve probably become one of two things: A bland Christian who has allowed their flavor to become leached out by our culture or sin. Or, an angry and hostile religious person who puckers everyone’s mouths, even those who agree with our truth claims.

Living with radiance and flavor, however, means doing all we can to model Christ in every area of our lives. How we speak, how we serve, how we love, how we give, and how we react. We mustn’t separate Christ’s call to live as the salt of the earth and light of the world from the context in which He spoke this. (Matthew 5)

He began by telling us all the seemingly contradictory ways we’d be blessed.

  • Blessed are those who are poor in spirit. Destitute on their own and recognize their constant need for Christ. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Blessed are those who mourn, because it’s often during the hard times that we most experience our Savior. (Matthew 5:4)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—who long to know and please God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • Blessed are the meek, who demonstrate strength under control. In other words, who are able to speak truth with love, gentleness, and grace and don’t lose their cool in Facebook arguments or endless political debates. (Matthew 5:6)
  • Blessed are those who seek justice, absolutely, but are most known for their mercy. (Matthew 5:7)    
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—free from pride, selfish ambition, bitterness and sin. (Matthew 5:8)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers—those who actively join God’s mission to bring relational, emotional, and spiritual health to our broken world. (Matthew 5:9)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted, insulted, mocked, and disdained, for the sake of Christ, because our love often shines brightest in the face of hatred. (Matthew 5:10-12)

After laying out precisely what a Christ-honoring life looks like, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15) So shine brightly, “That [others] may see” your arguments and hear all the verses you’ve memorized? No. “That they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)

Matthew 5:16 on yellow background

Because, in short, they will know us by our love, one displayed with equal parts truth and grace. Because as I’ve said before, love without truth isn’t truly love. It’s dangerous. Morally and ethically negligent. And truth without love is destructive. A life characterized by both, in deed even more than word? Such a life truly does have the power to change the world.

You and I have the power to change the world, one heart at a time. And Jesus has both shown and told us precisely how. The question is, will we follow His example?  

Share your thoughts, insights, examples of living brightly, and questions in the comments below. If you’re following our chronological New Testament reading plan, scroll down to view this week’s suggested reading.

For those struggling to live as salt and light in challenging circumstances, I encourage you to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episode on Responding With Courage When Others Act Foolishly. You can find it here.

I also invite you to check out Wholly Loved’s latest Bible reading plan: Joy in Chaos. You can find it, and the “read to me” option HERE.

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!

Have you signed up for Wholly Loved’s mother-daughter conference yet? Can’t make it on April 16th & 17th? No worries! All registrants will receive a link and password granting them full access to all the conference content.

Find out more HERE.

Watch the promo clip here:

Bible reading plan week 13

Quote on sitting with those who are hurting

(Today’s devotion comes from this week’s first day’s Bible reading passage. See plan below.)

My pride, insecurity, and fierce hold on my comfort level challenge my ability to love others well. I give of my time and my money, my energy … but only so much.  To love deeper, I need to sit. Sit with my Savior, the One who floods my soul with everything good and right and lovely. And I need to sit in other people’s pain so that it becomes my own.

Years ago, I watched a profound video that halted my thoughts and convicted my soul. In it, a man was advocating for orphans he’d encountered personally while visiting a developing country. Seeing them face-to-face as they scrounged through garbage cans, those children, once statistics easily forgotten, became real. And in that moment, God asked him how he’d respond if the child digging through trash were his child. Then God told him the child was His—God’s.

I have to pause there. I know I can’t take on every wrong, but I can speak love and hope to those God brings near. Through grace and truth-filled actions, I can introduce them to my Savior. Even if that means actively tearing through the barriers that keep them from Him.

I can follow the example of the men who carried a paralytic—perhaps a friend or family member—to Christ. Scripture doesn’t tell us how far they’d traveled, whether a mile or ten. During this time many considered paralytics cursed by God. As a result, these individuals often experienced ongoing rejection. I imagine the loneliness hurt most. But the men in John 12 stood by their friend. Even if that meant pushing through a throng of desperate people, embracing the stigma of that of that time of associating with a paralytic, and potentially angering the religious elite—those with the power to expel people from their faith community. (John 12:42.)

The Bible says everyone “gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door …” (Mark 2:2, NIV).

Pause to envision these men standing on the outskirts, surveying the crowd. Place yourself in that position for a moment, needing to push through with someone our culture stigmatized.

Who is that person for you? The one our society keeps on the fringe, ignores, and even disdains?

If you were those men, would you have hung back, telling yourself all the reasons Jesus didn’t have time for your friend?

That’s not how these men responded. Verses 2-5 tells us,  “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.”

That’d be the equivalent of someone removing your window to crawl inside your house. Polite, civilized people just don’t do that sort of thing.

Those desperate to see their loved ones encounter Christ do.

The result? Verse 5 states, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”

When Jesus saw their faith.

Their faith propelled these men into action. They knew their friend needed Jesus and faith propels lovecouldn’t reach Him on his own, so they bridged the gap. They broke through the barriers keeping the paralytic from life, and received what they longed for and more.

Reading this, I wonder—who does God want me to step into the gap for? What “roof” might I need to unhinge or “crowd” might I need to push through? More importantly, will I? Or will I stand on the fringe, waiting for an easy opening, one that fits my schedule, my comfort level?

What about you? Who might God be asking you to bring to Him? Will you?

For those following our chronological New Testament Bible reading plan:

Bible reading plan week 10

Speaking of loving one another well, let’s start with one of our most precious relationships. Join me and my Wholly Loved team for our upcoming mother-daughter conference, Beautiful Mess.

Find out more HERE.