Long before the taliban came into existence and the CoronaVirus hit our world, eighteenth century theologian Matthew Henry wrote, “All human life is warfare.”

I imagine, many of us have felt the reality of that statement over the past few years. We have a real and relentless enemy bent on our destruction. And every mighty movement of God seems to trigger an explosion of evil. 

Yet, quickly review our world’s history and you’ll see, every explosion of evil also triggers a mighty and beautiful movement of God. A movement revealed not through loud displays of power but rather quiet, yet inspiring and contagious, demonstrations of grace and love. 

Radiant displays of beauty that reveal our radiant Lord.

This battle, at times, is exhausting. But we must never allow it to become defeating. Or deceiving.

What we’re experiencing and witnessing today, it’s not new. The players may shift, but wars continue to rage, terrorists rise up, are conquered or supplanted and new ones take their place. Friends and family betray one another and children experience abuse and neglect, and often, by the hands of the very ones who were supposed to keep them safe. 

Surrounded by such ugliness, it’s easy to get caught in the fray. To allow the ugliness to seep in and then out of us. Adding hurt upon hurt, brokenness upon brokenness. 

But God infused within us incredible, untarnishable beauty: life, love and light strong enough to shatter the darkness that tries to press in. 

Decades ago, our family visited the Grand Canyon, and I went hiking along the Kaibab trail. I don’t know what the trail looks like during blooming season, but when I was there, it was dry and largely barren. Which is why each desert flower I saw had such an impact. The colors were so vibrant against the landscape of brown. Each one drew me, and I was intrigued by the tenacity with which it grew. 

The tenacity that allowed the seed that became that blossom to grow while other seeds remained dead in the dry soil and other emerging plants withered away in the unrelenting heat. 

Reflecting back on every sign of life I encountered, I sense God asking me, “Which will you be? The seed that never grew. That lay dormant, engulfed, lifeless by its environment? The blossom that sprouts for a moment, maybe a day or a week, but then allows the harsh realities surrounding it to destroy the sweet aroma I created it to produce?”

Who will claim the victory of my life, my enemy, who is bent on my destruction, or the God who died that I might live?

And I’m not speaking about salvation here. I’m assuming most of you reading this belong to Christ. That you’ve accepted His gift of spiritual life, but that doesn’t mean you’re living in the victory of it. 

Are you believing the lies that say you’re powerless, ineffective, unimportant, and besieged? 

As I said previously, for every miraculous movement of God, our world experiences a countermovement of evil. Consider all that occurred after Christ’s death. In a moment, the church was born and division and social hierarchies broken as the gospel united people of all nations. (Acts 2:1-41) Soon after, however, a wave of persecution hit. And to some, this may have felt like the end. Their circumstances hopeless.

But just as life ignites our enemy to attack us with death, so his attacks spur God to unleash unconquerable bursts of life. In the first century, He did this by inspiring His persecuted children to share the gospel in each place to which they’d fled. 

Dotting the landscape with beauty through His ever-blossoming, soul-beautiful children.

Just as He’s doing today, through you and I. 

This war we’re in, it’s personal. We’re called, empowered and commissioned, which is precisely why we’re under attack.    

Satan will try to destroy the most beautiful parts of you. The parts of you that most radiate Jesus. That gift of compassion that reveals the heart of the One who wept over Jerusalem’s hard-heartedness, deception, and impending destruction (Luke 19:41-44), and who wept before raising Lazarus from the dead as well (John 11:38-44). 

A gift intended to radiate a unique, life-changing aspect of Christ, of who He is at His core. A gift that should, in its expression, bring joy, but that Satan will twist to feel burdensome. Or, through the hurtful words of others, diminish by telling you that you’re defective, too sensitive. That you feel too intensely, enticing you to withdraw and isolate. To hide behind a facade of “strength” and stoicism.

If God has planted leadership skills within you, satan will tarnish your strength with pride, causing that gift intended to unite and mobilize the kingdom to wound and divide. Or, again, through the hurtful words of others, tell you you’re domineering or prideful. Maybe too loud. Tempting you to hold your tongue, to keep your head down, and to “go with the flow” even when you know things are flowing toward a deadly waterfall. 

In short, satan will try to entice us to fight one another and ourselves. To become self-obsessed, easily offended, and defensive, rather than leaning deeper into Christ and His love. 

But we know our enemy’s tactics. We have an entire book recording his futile attempts, and they are indeed futile, because our play book assures us, Christ has already won. He broke the power of death and replaced it with vibrant and beautiful life. 

And He’s working, day by day and wound by wound, to replace our rubble, the ashes our enemy created in our lives, with untarnishable beauty. 

That’s why Jesus came. Speaking of our Savior, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NASB).

That’s what God did through Jesus. He turned our mourning into dancing, swept away the ashes and rubble our sin and the sins of others created, and gave us a Spirit of strength, joy, and praise.

Now, He’s inviting you and I to live in that. To be part of the mighty movement of God that will, and even is now, rising up against the onslaught of our world’s evil. And not through ugliness and arguments but, through our words and actions, by sprinkling flower seeds wherever we go and plunging our roots deep into the One who nourishes and refreshes our souls. 

Now for the Book GiveAway

Snatch a photo of my latest release, Chasing Her Dream, on the shelves, share it on social media, tag me, and tell us where you found it, and I’ll enter you into the drawing to win all of these fun books!

Books in giveaway bundle

Chasing Her Dream:

She needs his help…

But can she trust him again?

After she inherits her uncle’s mismanaged ranch, single mom Rheanna Stone’s not sure she can also handle saving abused horses from a nearby property. So when rancher Dave Brewster offers to stay in town to help, she can’t say no—even if he left her once before. As they grow closer, old secrets are uncovered…but can they heal past heartbreak to give themselves a new beginning?

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

Find it HERE.

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Image of a candle with quote from Andrew Murray.

Early in my ministry, I often exhausted myself trying to manage everything. Though I knew with certainty my assignment came directly from God, I routinely behaved as if He expected me to carry the load alone. As if results came through sheer grit rather than the works of His hands.

When one of my team members forgot or failed to complete a task, I felt responsible to step in and catch every ball that happened to get dropped. Though I talked a great deal about faith-filled, surrendered living, I routinely behaved as if our results depended on me. Unfortunately, my attitude trickled down to everyone else, turning roles that should’ve brought us great joy, fulfillment, and ever-deepening connections with our Savior into tiresome, anxiety-producing chores.

I knew, intellectually, I wasn’t living or leading as God desired but lacked the courage to slow my hustle. I felt like if I did, we’d fail. When it was my very fear of failure that steadily and rapidly led me in that direction by decreasing my reliance on Christ, my source of wisdom and strength. While, sadly, proclaiming the power of surrender, demonstrating perhaps my heart didn’t believe what my mouth proclaimed.

Then, one spring, life hit many of my team members hard. Hurricanes threw some off balance. Family illnesses left others struggling to think straight let alone write or create. At first, I tried to work harder and faster but this only led to burnout with little visible growth.

My inspiration and vision squashed, I wanted to quit. And so, for a time, I basically did. We all did, in fact, for nearly six months. I expected to see all that we’d worked for begin to fade until our organization died completely, like so many others I’d seen pop up then disappear over the years.

Instead, we grew. And when the Coronavirus forced us to cancel a year’s worth of events, and therefore a year’s worth of funding, we grew again in terms of readership, impact, and volunteers. Through this, God reminded me of something, in all my running, I’d seemed to have forgotten. The God who formed, redeemed, molded, and empowers me doesn’t need me to perform or to strive. Instead, He invites me to yield and to trust. Or rather, to shift my trust—off of myself and place it where it belongs, on Him.

Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (NIV).  God spoke these words to ancient Israel when the Assyrian army was coming against them. Grossly overpowered from a human perspective, they were terrified. In their desperation, they turned to Egypt, with its iron chariots and well-trained army, placing more faith in the might of man than God Almighty. They thought they were aligning themselves with strength. But by distancing themselves from the God who loved them, they were actually increasing their weakness.

God beckoned them to return to Him, the One who had proven His faithfulness again and again, but they refused to listen. And while I can recognize the foolishness of their actions when reading the historical account from the comfort of my bedroom, I much too frequently behave like them when I feel under attack. I soon realize, however, how insufficient my most fervent efforts and greatest allies truly are, when formed apart from Christ. But the moment I turn back to Him in faith, however, God fights on my behalf, makes up for my lack, and gives me everything I need to do all He’s asked, just as He did for ancient Israel when King Hezekiah humbled himself and turned to God.

Image of woman sitting on bench at dusk.

Then, his soul was quieted and at peace, not panicked, rushed or confused.

Though choosing surrender, especially when the stakes seem high, can feel incredibly frightening, doing so places us in a position of power and strength. I’m reminding myself of this truth now as I am about to enter into a busy season, returning to school while writing, speaking, leading a ministry … When people ask how I’ll manage it all, I smile and say that I have an amazing team. And I do, but even more than that, we serve an amazing God. I know He will carry everything He wants to thrive. Therefore, whatever areas fall short must not be from Him, because He is big enough and strong enough to perfect all that concerns us.

All that concerns you as well.   

Let’s talk about this! What or who are you tempted to place your trust in? What might it look like for you to fully rely on Christ? Share your comments, thoughts, and examples with us in the comments below because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram. And make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode.

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Sometimes, when I encounter others just beginning their faith journey, I forget how tumultuous, difficult, and confusing my first stumbling steps were. I forget how tightly I held to the familiar, even if that meant staying stuck in dysfunction or pain.  And in my mess, my insecurities, and my fears, the patience of my Savior as He daily stooped to my level, took my clammy hand in His, and led me step by step, truth by truth, to spacious fields of joy and peace (Ps. 23).

Not long ago, after I’d shared some of my story with a podcast guest, he proclaimed, “How courageous you were to follow Jesus on that journey of healing.”

Only I wasn’t brave at all, nor did I have any idea where God was leading me half the time. In fact, if it had been up to me, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have moved forward at all. But in those moments when my feet became paralyzed with fear, Jesus descended to my level, took my hand in His and gently, lovingly, yet persistently led me to increased freedom.

That’s why He came. To proclaim good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners and the oppressed, and recovery of sight to the blind. His heart has always been tender toward the broken, confused, and deceived. We catch such a beautiful analogy of this, almost like a real-life parable, in Mark 8.

Jesus and His disciples had crossed the sea of Galilee and into Bethsaida, an area He’d previously denounced for its widespread lack of faith or spiritual vision. Verses 22-26 tell us, “…some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.”

Then, He spit on the man’s eyes and asked him if he could see.

Although his vision had improved, it remained blurry. “He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” And so, Jesus touched the man’s eyes again, and this time his sight was restored.

Pause to envision this interaction, as Christ took the man’s hand and led him out of the village. Can you sense Jesus’ gentleness and tender care? I picture Him walking slowly, careful not to cause the man to trip. Taking the man to a more private location, He healed him partially, allowing those first rays of light to stream in, before shattering the darkness for good.

I wonder, what happened in that man’s heart and mind, during that process? Did threads of doubt and fear begin to melt away? Did whispers of lies rise to the surface then get swept away for good? Did the Savior’s first touch, then the second, then the third help him to heal, then teach him to trust, and then to rest?

The passage doesn’t tell us why the One whose words cast out demons and brought life to a girl, once dead, chose to heal this man in such a gradual and deeply personal way. But we know Christ’s shepherd’s heart for His sheep, for those who’ve been walking for some time and maybe have recovered most of their sight. And for those who’ve just begun and are taking their very first timid and stumbling steps. He’s bringing us all to places of unhindered freedom, nudging us ever so gently yet persistently forward.

May we remember this image the next time we’re tempted to grow frustrated with someone else’s slow progress. May we resist the temptation to shove our broken brothers and sisters forward. May we instead slow our step to patiently walk beside them, knowing God will ensure we both reach our destinations.    

Let’s talk about this! Pause to consider all the ways God stooped down to grab hold of you. Remember some of your greatest struggles, or maybe even your current battles. How does your memory of those moments impact your view of other people’s behaviors?

For those following our Chronological Bible reading plan through the New Testament …

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Text on a salmon-colored graphic.

We experience freedom when our desire to get well overrides our desire to self-protect.

This might mean admitting our marriage isn’t quite as cheery as it seems, or that we can’t fight that addiction or mental health challenge or whatever battle we’re facing alone. That we need God’s help, and just maybe, the help of others as well.

Often that first step out of the shadows, out of hiding, is the hardest.

It was for me. Some of you know my story. It’s far from glamorous, which is why I hid it for so long. For nearly 20 years, in fact. I thought I was protecting myself from rejection and embarrassment. But my hiding only increased my insecurity and shame. Though I was a deeply loved child of God, I felt like a fraud. Defective.

And so, I hid my inadequacies and pain behind trendy clothes, an immaculate house, and cheery Sunday morning slogans. I tried so hard to mimic everyone else who appeared to have it all together.

Maybe you have too.

I’ve since realized, those who present such polished, perfect personas are just as broken as everyone else. They’ve got their hurts and regrets and parts of themselves they try to hide.

But Jesus calls us to step into the light, progressively and steadily, until He illuminates, heals, and transforms every crevice of our souls. Trust in this long-proven truth: God will create such beauty in us, if we’ll let Him draw us out of the shadows and into the light of His love and grace.

quote from post with white, salmon, and navy design.

One day, after sharing some of my story with a friend, she said she admired my willingness to be uncomfortable when God asked. I had to consider her statement for a moment, because honestly, I’m not nearly as noble as her words might suggest. I’m not even all that courageous. I’ve just learned to fear those things that are truly fearful. I’ve discovered, most often, life apart from God’s leading is so much more painful, hopeless and bleak than anything He might call me to.

Through all my years of walking with God, He’s demonstrated something again and again. I can trust Him with each step, knowing He’ll always guide me toward increased wholeness, increased freedom, and increased intimacy with Him, the only One in whom true and lasting joy can be found.

I don’t know what your path to healing will look like. (Or, perhaps has looked like.) Only God does. But I’m relatively certain it’ll involve some level of risk. Having the courage to say, “I’m not okay. This isn’t okay. God, I need Your help, and I am willing to follow, however You lead.”

Seeking His aid? That’s the easy part. Trusting Him enough to heed his guidance? To press through, and keep pressing, until the victory’s won?

That’s tough.

In Mark 5, we learn about an unnamed individual known initially as “the woman with the issue of blood.” That appeared to be her defining feature, one we know, from Old Testament law, would’ve guaranteed a life of isolation and shame. Others, the religious elite who appeared to have it all together especially, considered her dirty. They wanted nothing to do with her. Wouldn’t even touch her, lest some of her uncleanness should rub off on them.

Have you ever had anyone treat you that way? As if your very presence caused their nose to wrinkle? Those who avoided you in conversations or maybe even crossed to the other side of the room? Those interactions can leave such deep wounds in our hearts, wounds that don’t often heal quickly.

Imagine enduring 12 years of that, and not just from the “cool” people in church, or in this case, the Temple, but from everyone. The entire Jewish community. Her depth of loneliness would’ve been crushing. Her feelings of worthlessness and shame, all consuming. She was so desperate for aid, for love and connection, she sought doctor after doctor, tried one supposed cure after another, until her she’d spent her last dollar.

I wonder if, when she learned Jesus was coming to town, if she considered staying home. She’d had her hopes dashed so many times, why allow herself to hope yet again? But something within her, a desperation for life—real life—rose up and gave her the courage to push through the crowd.

Probably fearing someone would recognize her and call her out as unclean. Oh, the mortification! But still she came, pressing closer and closer, thinking, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5:28, NIV).

And she was! Scripture says, “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29, NIV). Miracle experienced, she might’ve planned on slipping quietly away, but Jesus called her out. “Who touched My clothes” He asked, not because He didn’t know. Other passages demonstrate that He was capable of reading hearts and minds. No, He called this woman out because His beautiful, transformative work in her wasn’t through.

But notice, she had to take that first step. She had to choose whether to slip back into the crowd and dart away, unnoticed by all but God, or step out into His grace. She chose the latter and fell before Him, trembling.

And Jesus responded, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” –in wholeness— “and be freed from your suffering” (V. 34, NIV)

Daughter. Can you sense the tenderness in that word? She went from being “the woman who suffered from the issue of blood,” to hearing Christ call her daughter—the only woman in Scripture Christ referred to as such. And in this, He proclaimed to her and to all those watching, that they were not to consider her unclean.

No. She was His beloved, seen and known, and made whole, daughter.

I’m convinced the healing His words created, deep in her soul, brought her the greatest freedom of all.    

Let’s talk about this! Where are you at in your healing journey? What’s your next courageous step?

Fort those following our chronological Bible reading plan through the New Testament, today’s post kicks us off with Mark 5:21-34.

Chronological Bible reading plan week 21 graphic.
I also encourage you to check out the latest Faith Over Fear Podcast Episode:

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Quote from J. Edwin Orr on blue background

Trying to live a God-honoring life in our own strength is like spring cleaning with our hands zip-tied and strobe lights flashing. Bound and vision distorted, we may be able to knock some cobwebs out of our way, but we’ll remain oblivious to the spiders forming them. We may, in fact, help hide and thus fortify their webs.

As commentator Jamieson-Fausset-Brown put it: “Whatever in religion Is disconnected from Christ comes to nothing.” Worse than nothing in fact. Unless empowered by our Savior, our most fervent efforts inevitably lead to exhaustion and increased bondage. To a life where we’re always grasping and striving, never quite able to reach the freedom for which our souls so desperately ache. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to fight against sin, to fight for a better life, only to feel the weight of it all come crashing down.

Whenever I see others in that self-defeating cycle, I remember the soul-crushing futility I once felt. And my heart cries out, “Look up! Your rescue has arrived.” Only they can’t see it, or if they do, they discount it. Because in order to grab hold of salvation, they first must come to terms with the depth of their mess. That can feel terrifying for those who’ve spent a lifetime hiding behind laced curtains.

This has always been God’s call. To trust, and ultimately to admit, despite how we appear in all those photo-shopped pictures we so readily share across social media, that we truly don’t have it all together. That we’re floundering and need a Savior.

In love, He urges us to open wide the doors of our hearts so that His grace can swoop into every corner, every crevice, and truly wash us clean.

Quote from post on light blue background.

Speaking to the religious elite of His day—those who routinely hid their filth like greed, pride, and lust, behind a well-polished veneer, Jesus said, 21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

23 “Whoever is not with Me is against me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Luke 11:21-26, NIV).

In context, He was refuting accusations that His power against evil came from evil, which clearly made no sense. But His message went even deeper. In essence, He told them, “I stand before you, greater than all the forces of darkness that war against your soul. You can’t fight your demons alone. You need me. And I am here.”

He’s offering the same invitation to us. We can dress up our outsides with smiles, appropriate religious slogans, and charitable acts, or we can surrender to the only one with the power to truly make us clean. To truly set us free.

Only then can we say, without hesitation or hypocrisy, “Blessed” –happy and free— “is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Ps. 32:2, NIV).

No hiding. No pretending. No frantic polishing. Simply resting, yielding, and transforming.

For those following the New Testament Chronological Bible reading plan … Today’s post kicks off day one’s reading.

Week 18's Bible reading plan daily readings.

And if you’re looking for a Bible plan but don’t want to read through the New Testament, you may enjoy my Journey Through Ephesians plan, produced by Wholly Loved Ministries and available on the YouVersion app. Find it HERE.

Those with teenage and young adult daughters might find my article on helping our daughters who might struggle with mental health helpful. You can find that HERE.

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

I’m not sure if this is hypocrisy or more of an illogical contradiction, but whenever I say the “Lord’s Prayer” without following my words with action, I’m denying what I pray. If not matched with an attitude of surrender, I’m basically stating, “May Your will be done, God … except in this moment. Except in my life. May You be Lord of the world, of my family, goodness, even of my husband, but not of me, at least, not in this situation here.”

I want to follow God in all things. To truly reach a place where I’ve laid everything down in obedience to Him, and not just because He deserves that. But also, because I know, with every inch of my soul, that His ways truly are better. But sometimes, in the stress and anxiety and simple frustrations of day-to-day living, I forget. I forget that He truly does know better and will always lead me to His very best.

He reminded me of these truths this past weekend. Initially, I was plagued by doubt. I knew God was calling my husband and I into a tough, hugely uncomfortable and uncertain situation, and frankly, I didn’t want to obey. I wrestled with myself, and with God, for a while, thinking of all the logical reasons I could change my plans. And maybe, if left alone with my rather convincing thoughts, I would’ve convinced myself to stay home, tucked away with a nice, pleasant, risk-free book.

But my husband became my voice of reason, and I’m sure glad, because had I given in to my fear and selfishness, I would’ve missed some pretty cool God moments. Some precious glimpses of His heart and the beauty only He can create.

Reflecting on all God did, I was super grateful my husband challenged me to live out what I so readily claim to believe—that God is indeed my Lord. And to live as if that were true.

Perhaps that is the very reason Jesus’s simple yet profound prayer, spoken in Matthew 6:9-10 has the capacity for such life-changing power. It invites us to pause, to reflect on the words we so easily speak, and allow them to highlight then purge the contradictions within.

This in turn transforms a perfunctory act similar to what Jesus condemned the religious leaders for only moments before into a transformative interaction with our Father, the One who knows, sees, and hears our deepest and truest selves.

This Spirit-led conversation might go something like this:

My Father in heaven—the God who formed me and has full authority over me
hallowed be Your name—I acknowledge that You are above all and am choosing, in this moment, to reflect on Your power and glory.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven—And may Your kingdom reign first in me. Demolish every other kingdom—especially my fierce allegiance to self—that has risen within me. Dethrone every idol that tries to take Your rightful place in my heart. May Your will be done first in me, and then through me.

At each moment and with every prayer, we are choosing which kingdom to advance. The Pharisees made their choice. They offered all sorts of lofty words delivered loudly on street corners and trumpeted every “righteous” act. In this, they created exactly what they desired—a show. In essence, to elevate themselves above God. I imagine they each had numerous reasons for this, but I believe if we dug deep enough, we’d find one lie buried deep within each of their hearts: That God wasn’t enough. That He’d never bring them the fulfillment, peace, and joy their souls craved. And so, they sought to gain this for themselves, robbing themselves of the very life they were created for.

God invites us to go deeper that we might discover something of infinite, soul-reaching value—an intimate relationship with our Daddy. A relationship enriched as we consistently purify our hearts so that what’s inside more closely matches our declarations.   

Pause to consider the Lord’s prayer—the meaning of each phrase. What might God want to do within you so that you can pray each one with the authenticity of a life that follows what the mouth proclaims?

Before you go … have you registered for the Beautiful Mess Conference yet? There’s still time! Can’t make it this weekend? No worries! All registrants will receive a link and password to access all conference content after the event whenever they want, as many times as they choose. Gain tools that will help all your relationships while anchoring you deeper in Christ’s grace. Find out more HERE.

And if you’re looking for a new Bible reading plan, make sure to check out my latest video based plan, In Christ: A Journey Through Ephesians. Find it HERE.

And make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear episode titled the Courage to Fight for others.

Listen HERE.

For those following our chronological journey through the New Testament …

Week 14 Bible reading plan passages

You might also enjoy:

5 Things to Know if Revelation Scares You

8 Steps to Healing a Mother-Daughter Relationship

Blog title image on mint background

Have you ever entered an environment that felt contrary to everything you knew and expected? Maybe you started a new job that rewarded you for effort rather than results, but you found it hard to accept this. You kept feeling like you had to achieve, like you were continually falling short. Or maybe you’re engaging in a new relationship, one more grace based than you’ve previously known, and it’s challenging to truly settle in.

Our family has witnessed these dynamics in youth we’ve opened our homes to over the years. All of them have come from rough places and learned a works-and-performance-based way of living. Where one must perform and meet some standard or they’ll be cut off.

Perhaps you can relate. Such interactions can make it difficult to understand God’s grace.

In Christ, God invites us to make a clean break from our striving; to find freedom through Quote from post on mint backgroundabiding. The two ways of living can’t mix. We are either free or enslaved.

This was the message Christ gave to the Pharisees in today’s Bible plan reading passage. In context, He’d called Matthew (Levi), a tax collector, to follow Him. Verse 29 states, “Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.”

As someone who is constantly trying to find ways to reach out to my unchurched friends and neighbors, all I can say to that is, wow, seeker group in the making! I imagine, sitting at that table, surrounded by those He loved deeply, Jesus rejoiced at all the opportunities this meal allowed for connection. Perhaps even for some of them to experience spiritual freedom.

The Pharisees, however, were not pleased. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” they asked (v. 30). To which Jesus replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous” –or, perhaps stated another way, those who believe they are righteous—“but sinners to repentance” (v. 31).

Speaking of “righteousness,” the conversation immediately focused on the rule-following the Pharisees took such pride in. “They said to Him, ‘John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.’”

Jesus responded with an analogy of a wedding feast, stating, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while He is with them?” (Mark 2:21). According to David Guzik from the Enduring Word, “Jesus’ message was strong and clear: I’m not like the Pharisees or John the Baptist. I am the Messiah, the bridegroom to the people of God. Wherever I am, it is appropriate to have the joy we associate with weddings.”

His very presence instituted an entire way, a deeply intimate way, of relating to God.

He emphasized this in the discussion of wineskins that followed. Just as no one would pour new wine into old wineskins, so too they couldn’t pour their adherence to the law into God’s gift of grace.

Regarding this, Guzik states, “Jesus’ point was made clear by these examples. You can’t fit His new life into old forms. Jesus traded fasting for feasting; sackcloth and ashes for a robe of righteousness; a spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise; mourning for joy; law for grace.”

Such a precious gift. Such a life-giving invitation, one the Pharisees rejected. They wanted to hold tight to their old wineskins, to the law.

They chose striving over thriving, most likely due to pride. And a stubborn refusal to release what they knew, their old ways of living, not understanding Christ offered them something so much better.

Sometimes we fall into those same traps. We try to mix manmade attempts to reach or please God with His precious gift of grace. But legalism and freedom, self-reliance and surrender, don’t mix.

We find freedom, in ever-increasing degrees, when we toss out the old wineskins altogether and fully embrace our new life in Christ. That’s a process, isn’t it? Learning to live in grace? Thankfully God is leading us step by step.

Where are you on this journey? When are you most tempted to reach for your old wineskins—for old ways of living? What is one thing you can do this week to rest deeper in God’s grace?

For those following our chronological reading plan through the New Testament, today’s devotion kicks this week off with Luke 5:33-39. (You read Matthew and Luke’s version of this account last week.)

Some additional encouragement:

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ 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 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

I did it again, y’all. I really need a “before I publish blog posts” check list. For those following the chronological reading plan, I updated my previous post to add it. But I knew those who receive my posts by email likely wouldn’t see that, so I’m creating a follow up.

Here’s week the reading for week six, and wow, can you believe we’ve been reading through the New Testament for six weeks now? Keep it up, y’all! 🙂

Sunrise over the mountains with quote from post

Whenever I set New Year’s goals, a part of me knows I won’t accomplish them. But I pull out that new planner anyway, think through all my plans and ideas, and analyze my areas of weakness. Then I summon my inner grit to actually put feet to plans for longer than, oh, I don’t know, a week. And while I personally am not that concerned with weight loss, I do love her focus. What if, in whatever goal we set, we focused on God first? If we sought His help with every step, followed His lead, and moved closer to our goals by moving closer to Him? Imagine the men and women we’d become!

Lose Weight God’s Way

Guest Post by Cori Dickess

It’s the New Year and what better time than to make some New Years resolutions. You know the usual resolutions like wanting to lose a few pounds, start exercising, cut sugar out of your diet or maybe even read the Bible in a year. You get the idea. I am going to be trying to lose some weight but to lose it God’s way, not my way.

So many times I have tried to lose a few pounds by exercising or cutting back on the carbs. But every time I return to my routine of eating that cookie after dinner or having something sweet after breakfast. That is if I don’t eat a chocolate covered cake donut FOR breakfast. Hahaha. And yes you have probably guessed that I have a sugar addiction.

Me loves some chocolate.

But I don’t want to succumb to my desire for chocolate after every meal and between meals. I want to be strong and fight that urge to eat that cookie.  Yet, I know that I can’t do it in my own strength. I need help. Lots of help!

I need God’s help!

Why is it that when we exhaust all of the other ways to try and lose weight we finally decide to ask God for help? Why can’t I ask God for help at the beginning of my weight loss journey? Well, this time I am going to allow God to change the way I think about food.

The Bible says we were made to crave (Psalms 84:2).  To pine after and to be homesick for something. But we weren’t made to crave after the things of this world (1John2:15-16).  We were made to crave after God. Satan will try everything in his power to replace our craving for God with the things of this world. He uses food to keep us from experiencing God’s love.

Could it be that we love and rely on food more than we love and rely on God?

Yes, I believe that can be the problem. Food is what I turn too when I am feeling sad, lonely, or upset. It temporarily gives me the comfort that I am longing for. I will even use the excuse when we are celebrating something to have a piece of cake.  I mean who says no too some birthday cake?  I can’t pass that up!

The body God has given us is good. I believe that our body will never be perfect this side of heaven. But it is still a gift from God. Being faithful in eating the right kinds of foods and taking care of your body honors Him. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.” While, in context, this verse is specifically referring to sexual sin, I believe the principle of self-care applies.

Would you not take care of a gift that was given to you by a loved one?

I had to see my struggle with food as more than wanting to wear a smaller size or getting compliments from other people. I relied on food more than I relied on God.  I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my reward. Food was my comfort.

I must be willing to change the way I think. We are not capable of doing this in our own strength. Scripture says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13).  God’s strength is the only way we are going to be able to conquer this thing.  Those excuses or rationalizations of “It’s just one piece” or “I will do better tomorrow” need to be replaced with “I was made for more.”

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We consume what we think about. The more I thought about that cookie or piece of cake, the more it consumed me to where I had to have it. So I prayed that God would show me a plan to help me with this addiction.  He reminded me of my doctors guidelines to eating.  She told me to visualize a plate. I was to fill half the plate with veggies, one quarter with protein and the remainder with carbs. God also gave me some boundaries to go by:

  1. Eat only when physically hungry.
  2. Stop eating before you are full.
  3. Eat slower (it takes your brain 20 min to tell your body it is full).
  4. Do not deprive yourself of sweets or you will binge eat.
  5. Limit the amount of sweets you eat.

Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray.  I was persistent in asking for God’s help.  He needed to be on this journey with me. I needed to ask for his wisdom and revelation when making food choices.

Now that I had a plan I also needed to find a friend to hold me accountable for when I start to back slide.  Someone who gently and lovingly spoke the truth and prayed for me.

Friend, I hope and pray this article helps you in your weight loss journey. If you’re anything like me you’ll need all the help you can get. These were just my guidelines. The Lord may lead you differently. So I encourage you to pray and ask yourself, Am I willing to sacrifice the feeling of comfort that food gives me for a closer walk with the Lord?

Yours in Christ,

Cori

***

Let’s talk about this! Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? Whether you do or don’t, how might analyzing your cravings, those things you allow to act as a substitute for time with Christ, and your increased reliance on Him help you conquer your areas of temptation?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

Get to know Cori Dickess

Cori Dickess's Headshot
Hi, there my name is Cori.  I am a freelance writer, a Jesus follower, and a wife to my amazing husband Larry of 16 years.  I have always loved to journal.  Just recently though God has laid it on my heart to share with the world the things that He has taught me over the past 20 years. God’s desire is for you and I to get to know Him better. And to share the love that he has for us with the world.  I would love to have you come on this journey with me.  Together let’s see what God has in store for us.
 
Visit her website HERE and find her on Facebook HERE.
 
Watch for Wholly Loved’s Bible Study!