How the Lord’s Prayer Invites Us to Go Deep

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

New Wine and Grace-Based Living

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:

The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49 Faith Over Fear

Scripture commands us to stand up for the oppressed and to fight for society's most vulnerable. God also wants us to actively advance His light against the world’s darkness. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery takes a look at a time when evil threatened the line of David, the Messianic line of Christ (2 Chronicles 22-23). But one couple (Jehoiada and Jehosheba) summoned their courage, took a stance, and in so doing, saved an infant king who brought light to his people and helped preserve the line of Christ. May we all, like the courageous woman who surrendered seven long years of her life to protect and nurture this child, give our lives for those things of eternal value knowing when we engage and fight our battles God’s way, He fights on our behalf. Find Jennifer Slattery at: https://www.jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com 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. Who would you identify as society's most vulnerable? 2. In what ways might God be calling you to fight on their behalf? 3. What most challenges your obedience to do so? 4. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about how Jehoiada “summoned his courage.” What are some ways you summon your courage? 5. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about the importance of gathering others around us. Who might God be inviting to join you in your current battle? 6. How easy is it for you to seek and then wait on God’s timing in your current situation or when He calls you to something? 7. What are some ways you can become increasingly strategic in your battle plan? 8. Jennifer discussed the importance of remaining alert to God’s promises. What are some biblical promises you can draw strength and courage from? 9. What is one action step God is asking you to take this week in order to advance His light? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49
  2. Responding with Courage When Others Act Foolishly – Ep. 48
  3. The Courage to Shed False Identities – Ep. 47
  4. The Courage to Let Our Kids Fail – Ep. 46
  5. The Courage to Entrust Our Loved Ones to God – Ep. 45

And now … for the reading plan

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! 🙂

Lose Weight God’s Weight-New Year’s Resolution-Guest Post

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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!
 

Christ Came for the Outcasts

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This holiday season, I invite you to look at the Christmas story through, perhaps, a difference lens—not just of all God did in giving us the gift of His Son—the promise of salvation, the prophesies fulfilled, the abiding presence of God for all who would believe.

All of those eternally glorious treasures came wrapped in that baby birthed by a poor yet faithful couple so long ago, and I praise God for that. But this story, told year after year and generation after generation, is more than a promise fulfilled and eternal hope proclaimed, as miraculous and glorious as those treasures are.

It’s also something of a hug for the outcast, the one who doesn’t feel good enough. It’s an invitation for all who feel rejected and insufficient. Through this precious child, God reaches out to everyone who’s ever believed the lie that they’re not good enough. Not smart, wealthy, prestigious enough, “righteous” enough.

All those who went to church seeking a Savior but encountered dress-code enforcers and rule-followers instead, and, feeling out of place, like they didn’t belong, sat in the back pew wondering if this Messiah, this King, could possibly see you.

I’ve been there. I’ve been the woman sitting at the back of the church who felt like she didn’t belong. And that’s why I love that God chose shepherds, a group of outcasts in their day, to proclaim His Son’s birth.

Luke 2:8-14 says,

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Can you imagine what that must’ve felt like to those shepherds? There they were, minding their sheep, when an angel of God appeared to them, and the Lord’s glory surrounded them. This was a big deal, for a few reasons.

First, according to commentaries, shepherds were considered unreliable social outcasts, who, in the Talmud, weren’t allowed to act as witnesses in courts of law. According to theologian Warren Wiersbe, their work made them ceremonially unclean and kept them from the Temple, the center of Jewish life, for weeks at a time so that they couldn’t be “made clean.” In other words, they were considered “those types of people,” those you wouldn’t invite over to dinner or want to be seen with.

And yet, by God’s design, they were the first to hear of our Savior’s birth.

Scripture also tells us God’s glory surrounded them.

Also according to Wiersbe, this was the first time God’s glory had appeared on earth in centuries. If you’re familiar with God’s interaction with the Israelites, you know what a special role His glory played in their history.

It was God’s glory, visible in a pillar of cloud, that stood between them and a pursuing army when they were fleeing Egypt. God’s glory, once again visible in that same pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, led them, day after day, as they headed toward the land long promised them. When God gave Moses the 10 commandments, Scripture says His glory and brilliance rested on the mountain, and it looked like a consuming fire. Later, we learn God’s glory filled the Temple so completely, the priests couldn’t enter in.

God’s glory was His power and His presence, a miraculous display that left the Israelites in awe and assured them that the God of creation was with them. But then, because of their sin, God’s glory departed, and oh, the darkness that followed.

Until on that first quiet Christmas, when God once again appeared, not to kings or to priests or even devout prophets, but to dirty and unkempt shepherds who were quietly tending their sheep.

In this, God made clear that His grace, His presence, His invitation and love, is Candle and Christmas foliage image with quote from post.meant for you and me. We don’t have to clean ourselves up or make ourselves presentable to get to God. In Christ, He came to us.

This Christmas, whether surrounded by family and friends or quietly celebrating alone, may you remember that Christ reached down for you as well. May you sit in His glory this Christmas as you learn to live wholly loved.

How does it feel to know Creator God reached down to you?

If you’re struggling with grief and anxiety this holiday season, I encourage you to listen to our next Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled Finding Peace This Covid-19 Christmas. You can listen here:

The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49 Faith Over Fear

Scripture commands us to stand up for the oppressed and to fight for society's most vulnerable. God also wants us to actively advance His light against the world’s darkness. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery takes a look at a time when evil threatened the line of David, the Messianic line of Christ (2 Chronicles 22-23). But one couple (Jehoiada and Jehosheba) summoned their courage, took a stance, and in so doing, saved an infant king who brought light to his people and helped preserve the line of Christ. May we all, like the courageous woman who surrendered seven long years of her life to protect and nurture this child, give our lives for those things of eternal value knowing when we engage and fight our battles God’s way, He fights on our behalf. Find Jennifer Slattery at: https://www.jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com 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. Who would you identify as society's most vulnerable? 2. In what ways might God be calling you to fight on their behalf? 3. What most challenges your obedience to do so? 4. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about how Jehoiada “summoned his courage.” What are some ways you summon your courage? 5. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about the importance of gathering others around us. Who might God be inviting to join you in your current battle? 6. How easy is it for you to seek and then wait on God’s timing in your current situation or when He calls you to something? 7. What are some ways you can become increasingly strategic in your battle plan? 8. Jennifer discussed the importance of remaining alert to God’s promises. What are some biblical promises you can draw strength and courage from? 9. What is one action step God is asking you to take this week in order to advance His light? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49
  2. Responding with Courage When Others Act Foolishly – Ep. 48
  3. The Courage to Shed False Identities – Ep. 47
  4. The Courage to Let Our Kids Fail – Ep. 46
  5. The Courage to Entrust Our Loved Ones to God – Ep. 45

Celebrating All God Has Done Through Wholly Loved Ministries

You know that verse that promises God will do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine? That sums up the history of Wholly Loved Ministries. Honestly, four years ago, when God asked me to launch this ministry, if I had any idea all He had planned, I probably would’ve been too freaked out to take that first step forward. We’ve gone from four women who met in a local coffeeshop talking about our dreams for helping hurting women experience freedom to a team of 30 who, combined and by God’s grace, have reached over 130,000 women worldwide. And not because my team and I are special or amazing but simply because we told God yes and are determined to continue telling Him yes, however and whenever He leads. Miraculous things happen when ordinary men and women say yes to our extraordinary God.

Praise Him with us for all He’s done!

This holiday season, we’d love for you to join our freedom-proclaiming mission!

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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Learning to Listen

Picture of me and Ash

My daughter could’ve become a statistic, part of the growing “unchurched” population, many of whom left the church not due to doctrinal differences or unbelief but rather, hurt. Wounds caused by those who claim to follow Jesus but behave nothing like Him.

The problem is, we rarely know what lies beneath the surface. We see the tense body language, the scowls, hear the angry and hostile responses, and form all sorts of quick judgments.

We attack symptoms rather than taking the time to get to the root.

Like a tender flower nurtured or trampled, faith blossoms or dies in the heart. This, therefore, is our target. To reach it, we must listen well, a skill I’m sorely deficient in. As a result, I’ve hurt those I care about and I’ve shut down, in some cases, irreversibly, eternally significant conversations. In my failure to truly listen, to the person and the Holy Spirit within me, I’ve created barriers not only between myself and another person, but I fear perhaps between them and God as well.

I almost did the same with my daughter during her teen years. I knew once she left the home, a day that was rapidly approaching, she could walk away from the church for good. There would be no one to encourage her to go to follow Jesus. In my fear and growing sense of urgency, I began to push. Thank God for a wise husband who remains sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting. Watching our interactions and the tension growing between my daughter and I, he urged me to stop. To pull back before I pushed her away.

So I did. I let conversations regarding God drop and surrendered our daughter to Christ. But I began to pray, with the fervency of one who knows an important situation is out of their hands. Perhaps that’s the best outcome surrender produces. It reminds us where the power for life change truly lies, and that’s not in our well-crafted arguments or logical presentations but rather with Christ.

Surrender reminds us that God does indeed know best how to reach the hearts He created. Trusting this to be true with my daughter, I turned every anxious thought to prayer. I prayed He’d soften her heart, speak to her in ways only He could, guide me daily in how to respond, and give me the strength and courage to obey. To truly live as an instrument of His perfect, brilliant, life-changing love and grace.

Two women sitting together with quote from post

In the meantime, I waited and loved, with an ever-attentive ear to Christ and everything my daughter was and wasn’t saying. While this felt frightening at the time, God showed me beauty and healing unfold when we are “quick to listen [and] slow to speak” as James 1:19 instructs.

For my daughter, it took about a year and a half of listening, of waiting and praying, before the truth came out. Contrary to what I’d thought, she wasn’t pulling away out of disbelief. All her scientific knowledge hadn’t captured and deceived her heart. God’s children, those who had spoken judgement and condemnation, had.

As a result, pain had become tangled with faith, causing every church service, worship song, and family Bible reading to trigger those wounds buried deep within.

And I almost missed it.

I’ve since discovered, my daughter’s experience is far from unique. So many of the people we interact with each day, maybe even try to share our faith with, appear angry on the outside, but inside, they’re wounded.

But we belong to a God who “searches and knows” us. Who actively plunges the depths of the human soul, uncovering those deeply hidden hurts no one else sees or, perhaps, even takes the time to uncover. And Scripture says we’re His ambassadors, His representatives and image bearers. To act as instruments of healing, because Scripture tells us it’s His kindness, not our rebuttals, that lead to repentance.

God truly does have the power to change lives and save souls. That’s not to say we should never speak truth, but rather, that we do so always and only as God leads.

path image with quote from post.

May you and I stop throwing up road blocks and begin paving loving, safe pathways instead.

You can hear more of her story, and on the power of listening well, in my latest podcast episode titled Courage for When Our Kids Doubt the Faith. While we speak specifically on interactions between parents and their children, the principles discussed apply to all of our interactions.

The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49 Faith Over Fear

Scripture commands us to stand up for the oppressed and to fight for society's most vulnerable. God also wants us to actively advance His light against the world’s darkness. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery takes a look at a time when evil threatened the line of David, the Messianic line of Christ (2 Chronicles 22-23). But one couple (Jehoiada and Jehosheba) summoned their courage, took a stance, and in so doing, saved an infant king who brought light to his people and helped preserve the line of Christ. May we all, like the courageous woman who surrendered seven long years of her life to protect and nurture this child, give our lives for those things of eternal value knowing when we engage and fight our battles God’s way, He fights on our behalf. Find Jennifer Slattery at: https://www.jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com 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. Who would you identify as society's most vulnerable? 2. In what ways might God be calling you to fight on their behalf? 3. What most challenges your obedience to do so? 4. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about how Jehoiada “summoned his courage.” What are some ways you summon your courage? 5. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about the importance of gathering others around us. Who might God be inviting to join you in your current battle? 6. How easy is it for you to seek and then wait on God’s timing in your current situation or when He calls you to something? 7. What are some ways you can become increasingly strategic in your battle plan? 8. Jennifer discussed the importance of remaining alert to God’s promises. What are some biblical promises you can draw strength and courage from? 9. What is one action step God is asking you to take this week in order to advance His light? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49
  2. Responding with Courage When Others Act Foolishly – Ep. 48
  3. The Courage to Shed False Identities – Ep. 47
  4. The Courage to Let Our Kids Fail – Ep. 46
  5. The Courage to Entrust Our Loved Ones to God – Ep. 45
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Speaking of showing love and grace to those who have been hurt by the church, that is one of the most beautiful actions I’ve witnessed from my Wholly Loved team members. They truly have a heart for the hurting and actively speak love and grace to wounded hearts. And you can help us reach even more women, a growing number of whom are becoming increasingly disconnected and struggling with mental health challenges like never before. This Giving Tuesday, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to partner with us as we point others to the soul-reaching freedom Christ offers. Click HERE to make a donation of any amount.

Each Day’s Troubles––Guest Post by Victoria Mejias

Fall lake image with quote on worry.

I struggle to remain focused on today, especially when I feel anxious. My mind can conjure too many what-if scenarios. Obviously all of my fretting doesn’t change whatever may lay ahead, but it does steal my energy and peace to handle my challenges well.

I so want to grow in this area, which is why I find my friend Victoria Mejias so inspiring. Whenever I encounter a woman of incredible faith, of consistent surrender, even during the hardest times, I pay attention. I watch, I listen, and I learn.

The devotion below is taken from a Bible plan written by Victoria for those struggling with chronic illness. Keep an eye out for her full Bible plan, releasing by Wholly Loved Ministries, soon!

Each Days Troubles

By Victoria Mejias

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV). 

“Day one: trouble eating, swallowing and severe fatigue. Day two: trouble walking and balance issues…” I wrote in my journal as my physician had instructed.

As if I don’t have enough physical ailments, I’m also highly allergic to the contrast used in diagnostic tests used to determine whether or not I’m experiencing a flare up of my chronic illness. So I’m left with taking copious notes and jotting down my symptoms on a daily basis.

Living with multiple sclerosis makes it difficult to plan ahead. As a single mom, I force myself to press on despite how I feel physically, mentally or emotionally. But my diagnosis isn’t just chronic, it’s progressive. Meaning my worst day in one week could be my best moving forward.

It’s exhausting and enough to drive anyone to despair. But I remind myself as I read the Apostle Matthew’s account of Christ’s words, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV). Upon reading that, I’m reminded not to be weighed down by any given day’s hardships. 

Imagine Christ, knowing full well the agony that awaited Him, saying not to worry. He embraced His fate, a barbaric crucifixion for our sake, being secure of His future. 

Chronic illness is real. Mine, in particular, is degenerative. One look at my journal would illustrate that. And still, I can remind myself not to worry. Not because tomorrow will be painless. Just the opposite, it’ll serve up its own special blend of trouble. 

But, it simply doesn’t compare to the glory we’ll experience on the other side of our physical suffering. And we can find comfort in knowing our eternity with Him awaits.

Get to Know Victoria!

Victoria Mejias serves on the Wholly Loved Ministry team in numerous capacities, from board member to writer. She’s a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and holds a Certificate in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute.

Victoria Mejias's headshot

She is a former Pastor and has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally. Victoria is the recipient of two U.S. Congressional awards for her service, has two children, loves the Lord and reaching the lost. She enjoys travel, arts and culture and speaks very openly about her journey with Multiple Sclerosis. To learn more about her, visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Here more of Victoria’s story on episode four of my Faith Over Fear podcast, which you can find HERE.

Listen to the latest episode, A Prayer Challenge to Help You Fight Anxiety, here:

The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49 Faith Over Fear

Scripture commands us to stand up for the oppressed and to fight for society's most vulnerable. God also wants us to actively advance His light against the world’s darkness. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery takes a look at a time when evil threatened the line of David, the Messianic line of Christ (2 Chronicles 22-23). But one couple (Jehoiada and Jehosheba) summoned their courage, took a stance, and in so doing, saved an infant king who brought light to his people and helped preserve the line of Christ. May we all, like the courageous woman who surrendered seven long years of her life to protect and nurture this child, give our lives for those things of eternal value knowing when we engage and fight our battles God’s way, He fights on our behalf. Find Jennifer Slattery at: https://www.jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com 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. Who would you identify as society's most vulnerable? 2. In what ways might God be calling you to fight on their behalf? 3. What most challenges your obedience to do so? 4. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about how Jehoiada “summoned his courage.” What are some ways you summon your courage? 5. In today’s episode, Jennifer talked about the importance of gathering others around us. Who might God be inviting to join you in your current battle? 6. How easy is it for you to seek and then wait on God’s timing in your current situation or when He calls you to something? 7. What are some ways you can become increasingly strategic in your battle plan? 8. Jennifer discussed the importance of remaining alert to God’s promises. What are some biblical promises you can draw strength and courage from? 9. What is one action step God is asking you to take this week in order to advance His light? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. The Courage to Fight for Others – Ep. 49
  2. Responding with Courage When Others Act Foolishly – Ep. 48
  3. The Courage to Shed False Identities – Ep. 47
  4. The Courage to Let Our Kids Fail – Ep. 46
  5. The Courage to Entrust Our Loved Ones to God – Ep. 45

And, before you go, some fun news: Faith Over Fear will have three new hosts! My Wholly Loved sisters, Jodie Bailey, Shellie Arnold, and Tara Rye, will be joining me as cohosts, shifting the podcast under the Wholly Loved umbrella. More hosts mean more perspectives, more truth, and more fun! We’ll be launching, as a team, with a series we’re super excited about: Women of the Bible: Their challenges, hurts, what they might have feared, and how God met them with love and grace.

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.