sad teenager(This post first published on March 14, 2019.)

Church had become a painful place for our daughter. She loved Jesus and wanted to grow closer to Him, but she’d experienced deep hurt from His people. Hurts that initiated inner lies like, “I’m not good enough. This faith thing isn’t working for me. God must not be pleased with me.”

Every time she entered the sanctuary, those lies played, swirling through her mind and drowning out the songs and proclamations of grace.

I could sense something was wrong, something deep. I saw it in the way she tensed whenever I asked her about her prayer or Bible reading time—really, anything faith related. She grew abrupt, clearly wanting to end the conversation.

Being the … perhaps overly involved mother that I am, I pressed, out of fear. A fear that, when acted upon, could have pushed her away from the faith entirely. Luckily, my husband stepped in and told me to back off. Even more fortunate, I actually listened.

And waited.

And prayed, and prayed, and prayed for God, the only One who knew precisely how my daughter was feeling and thinking, to step in and grab and heal her heart.

A few edgy and frightening months later, He opened the door for conversation, and in the dialogue that followed, He broke my heart nearly as much as my daughter’s had been. She shared years of hurt, of being misjudged, of feeling as if, because she didn’t respond to God (really, to worship music) as her church friends did, that she was unengaged. Uninterested. And not accepted, not just by her peers, but by God.

“What’s wrong with me?” she asked. “I don’t see God in music; I see Him in math!”

To which I responded, “That’s beautiful baby.”

Then I reminded her of Jesus’ words in John 13:35. He didn’t say, “They’ll know you’re My disciple based on how emotional you get during worship service” or “how high you raise your hands.” He said, “By this everyone will know you’re My disciples, if you love one another.”

Friends embracingWhen we love like Jesus, we demonstrate we belong to Him.

And I’d seen His love displayed in her again and again in her school and among her friends. God hadn’t rejected her, nor was she failing in her faith. He’d drawn her near and was working in and through her each time she interacted with the hurting and dismissed. She’d turned to Him for salvation as a child, read her Bible, and did her best to honor Him, but still, at times, she worried somehow, for her, saving faith hadn’t clicked. And, surrounded by other more emotionally driven believers, she felt as if somehow she wasn’t enough.

But, as a friend reminded me, when we allow our emotions to dictate our assurance, we’re actually relying on works-based religion, rather than grace received through faith. Quoting a line from an old hymn that says, “‘I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name,’” she added, “Frame was the old word for feelings. It is so easy to rest on feelings instead of the finished work of Christ, which never changes.”

We are saved through faith in what Christ did on our behalf, regardless of how we feel one moment from the next.

In 1 John chapter four, the author wanted to give ancient believers that same assurance. False teachers had infiltrated the church, were denying vital truths regarding Christ, and claiming to have a special, mysterious, and “secret” knowledge of God that the others didn’t have. In response, John, the apostle who write all three letters bearing his name, wrote a missive refuting this deception and assuring true followers of Christ that they did indeed belong to Him.

They could know, know, know that they truly belonged to Jesus based on what they believed regarding Him (that He was fully human and fully man), that they obeyed what He’d taught, have received the indwelling Holy Spirit, and based on how they loved one another.

“Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God,” John said (1 John 4:7).

And for those who may have been confused as to what this love looked like, he added, “This is how God verse graphics 1 John 4:19showed His love among us: He sent His One and only Son into the world … as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. … No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:9-12, NIV).

The love of God is sacrificial and initiating, and when we love others well, as Christ has loved us, His love is made complete, or has reached it’s full expression, in us.

We don’t need some special knowledge to prove to others or ourselves that we belong to Him, nor should we rely on our emotions to assure us of our faith. We simply need to live in, and live out, what we’ve received—through faith.

Have you ever encountered something similar to my daughter, when others gave you the message that you weren’t expressing your faith appropriately or according to their expectations? What are some ways you’ve found assurance in your faith? What are some ways you’ve assured others who, despite a clear belief in Jesus, have expressed doubts regarding their standing with God?

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

I also encourage you to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode. Find it HERE or wherever you access podcast content.

Yancey Quote with blue and green gradient background

What happens when you are certain God is leading you in one direction only to feel as if He’s asking you to take a hard left? Or, when you find yourself on a long dirt road that appears to be leading … nowhere? If that’s where you find yourself now, I hope you’ll find my guest Kathy Harris’s post encouraging.

When God Sends a Detour, Follow Him

by Kathy Harris

Twenty years ago, I had a milestone birthday. My husband and I celebrated by including me on one of his business trips to New Orleans. While he was attending meetings the first day, I ‘celebrated’ with writing time in the hotel room. I rarely had an entire day to devote to writing or, in this case, research, and it was the beginning of a turning point in my life.

I have wanted to write books since I was a little girl and that dream continued through high school. When I went to college, I majored in communications with a minor in English. And after I graduated from Southern Illinois University, I applied for several creative jobs in diverse industries, finally taking two part-time positions. One was teaching literature and poetry for a junior college. The other was teaching music and other studies in a rural elementary school. Neither of those positions fulfilled the need I had to write, but I enjoyed the opportunity to introduce my love of the written word, as well as music, to both children and adults.

Along with writing, music captured my interest at an early age. When I was in high school, I joined the church choir. Soon after that, two friends and I started a gospel trio, which would eventually because a quartet. We spent hours rehearsing, learning new songs, and performing at local churches and ‘old folk’s homes.’ Eventually we were asked to sing in other cities, broadening our outreach and expanding our vision. 

Lewis Quote on gradient teal and blue background.

For three years, I studied communications during the week and then returned home almost every weekend to ride the group tour bus—an old school bus my dad had converted to an over-the-road vehicle outfitted with bunks, a kitchenette, and storage for our gear and clothing. Singing gospel music across three states each weekend and becoming acquainted with exceptional men and women of God played a critical role in the development of my spiritual life, as well as helping direct my goals for the future. 

One year after college graduation, after working those two part-time jobs for a year, I was offered a full-time position in the Christian music industry, and I eagerly moved to Nashville. That decision changed the course of my life. It was, as I often say, a “divine detour.” God still had plans for me to write books—and that weekend in New Orleans, when I was celebrating a milestone birthday, I started walking in that direction again. 

This week, I celebrate, one more time, with the release of my third novel, and I can tell you, from personal experience, that, when God provides a detour, you should trust Him and then follow wherever He leads. He will bless you for it.

Have you ever wanted to give up on a dream because your life appears to have gone off-track? 

Get to Know Kathy

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville music business where she has worked for 30 years as a marketing director. She sold her first Christian nonfiction story in 2007. Her debut novel released in 2012. She writes romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Visit Kathy’s website, read her Divine Detour blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Kathy Harris's author photo.

Her Latest Release:

Will they uncover the secrets between them before it becomes deadly?

After fending off a would-be abductor, 27-year-old singer-songwriter Hannah Cassidy hides behind a car in the half-empty parking lot behind Pancake Pantry in Nashville. From there, she watches in horror as her attacker grabs another woman and pushes her into a nearby car. Within seconds, the vehicle speeds away.

TBI Special Agent Jake Matheson may have planned a quiet day off and a date with Shannon―the only name her online profile revealed―for an introductory lunch, but after pulling into a parking space on 21st Avenue South, he hears a scream. He races to the back of the building and finds a frightened young woman bent forward and gasping for breath.

Thrown together by uncanny circumstances and driven by the whys and what-ifs of secrets yet to be revealed, Hannah and Jake set out to find the connection between them before it becomes deadly.

Buy it HERE.

You might also enjoy:

The Courage to Wait (podcast episode)

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Quote on faith by Watchman Nee

I’ve learned, in my ongoing fight against fear, I won’t experience the peace of Christ in my own strength.  I can’t take my anxious, and often snowballing, thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5) without supernatural help. But I’ve also learned, I can live in the victory of Christ, during my most hectic and uncertain moments included, if I’ll actively and consistently pursue Him. When my world feels chaotic and like I’m being whipped about in a never-ending cyclone, I prayed for reprieve, yes, but even more so, I prayed against the storm raging within me. That was when I began taking my greatest steps toward freedom. 

As some of you know, 2011 was an incredibly rough year for me, for so many reasons. We’d recently moved, which meant saying goodbye to some close friends, uprooting ourselves from faith communities, grieving the loss of both while battling loneliness. That was also the year I got sick with what was, initially, an unknown illness. This triggered my anxiety, my anxiety fed my desire for control, and that desire led to an obsession with myself, my illness, and germs. The worse I felt, the more I cleaned. 

Soon, one thought dominated my thinking: what was or wasn’t making me sick. Bit by bit, one handwashing at a time, germaphobia developed. Eventually, I became completely enslaved to my fear. But then one day, as I was walking to the laundry room, a realization silenced my normally loud brain: This is not how God wants me to live. He promised me freedom. 

And I knew, with the certainty that can only come from the Holy Spirit, that the same God who called me to live in freedom would give me the tools to do so. 

Quote pulled from post on decorative background.

That was my call to action moment, where I sensed God challenging me to make a choice. I could remain stuck in my gunk, slipping further and further into fear. Or I could follow His lead, however He led, in this battle for freedom. Praise God, and by His grace alone, I chose the latter and began actively, persistently, and consistently praying against my fear. Every time I felt that knot in my gut, I paused to seek God’s help and His strength. I asked Him to break the power my fear had over me, which at the time felt insurmountable, and in its place, to flood my soul with peace.  

I was following the biblical example of the father who began in fear and anguish, but received that which he desperately sought. We read his story in Mark chapter 9, which we discussed in relation to praying versus arguing, a couple months ago. To refresh your memory, Scripture tells us, one day Jesus took Peter, James, and John up onto a mountain where He revealed to them His glory in an unforgettable, awe-inspiring way. 

While they were gone, a deeply distressed father came searching for Jesus. Not finding Him, he sought help from His disciples, maybe because he’d heard about all the miracles they’d performed not long before (Matthew 10:1-20). His situation, it seemed, was simply too hard; the disciples failed. But then Jesus arrived, and, noticing a conflict between His followers and the teachers of the law, asked what they were arguing about. 

Scripture says, “A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not'” (V. 17-18).

Then Jesus summoned the child, and the demon “threw the boy into a convulsion.” The child “fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (v. 20). 

After a short explanation, the father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v. 21).

To which Jesus responded,  “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes” (v. 22).

Hearing this, the father let out a guttural, shriek-like cry, krazo in the original Greek, perhaps because he feared his son’s healing depended on his faith. He exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v. 24).

Here’s what I find encouraging. Jesus didn’t get upset at the man. He didn’t rebuke him and send him away for his weak faith. Instead, He responded to the father and son in love and grace. He commanded the demon to leave the boy, never to return again.

This passage reminds me to bring my anxieties to Jesus, and to seek Him in the midst of my doubts, knowing He won’t chastise or reject me. Instead, He’ll give me precisely what I need–increased intimacy with the only One whose love has the power to cast out my fears. (1 John 4:18).

Friends, He’s been so faithful. That fall when I began actively and persistently praying against my fears? That was a life-changer for me. I didn’t notice much difference at first, and there were times I wondered if my constant requests were doing any good. But I kept praying, day after day, sometimes moment by moment, month after month. Then, one day some six months later, I realized a situation that had once triggered intense anxiety barely bothered me anymore, and other situations no longer bothered me at all. God indeed had been working. 

He was working on a spiritual level, using His supernatural power to break the chains that kept me bound. He was also teaching me how to grab hold of His freedom, step by step. To turn to Him in times of fear. Through this, I practiced stopping my anxious thoughts before they gained moment and rerouting them onto the good, in essence, onto God. 

Lessons I probably wouldn’t have learned, had God immediately eradicated my anxiety. 

Let’s talk about this! Do you suffer from anxiety? And if so, how often do you pray against your fear specifically? 

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

Ministry leaders, if you feel this message would resonate with your women, consider booking Jennifer for your next event. Find out more about her 3-part message on fighting fear to grab hold of God’s peace HERE.

Check out the Faith Over Fear Bible reading plan HERE.

I also encourage you to check out the latest Faith Over Fear episode. In it Philip Yancey shares his experience with religious abuse and his journey of untangling the false to find authentic faith.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Guest Post by the Heroes 2 Team

Quote on Christ feeding a hungry soul on an image of a woman gazing upward.

In a world of rush, will we still be able to find what really matters? 

I grew up in a family with high regard for education. My parents told me this was  our key to success and the only inheritance they could give us. But there were no books in our home, the kind my classmates used to bring at school–tales and fiction! We only had Bibles and handed-down devotionals from my uncle who was a pastor.

As a young person, I learned the verse, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33, KJV). I felt it was beautiful! I loved the “all these things shall be added unto you” part and realized I found the formula to success!

Or so I thought.

I studied hard, prayed hard, and asked God for blessings in all that I did. I thought I was invincible! Well, how could I fail right? The Lord was my ally! However, my heart wasn’t in the right place. I was seeking personal honor and success, not to  glorify God or advance His kingdom.

We all have a tendency to seek for something we don’t have. Don’t we? Wealth, position, or influence. We think if we achieve that award, get a salary increase, or increase our following on social media, maybe then we can be truly happy. 

But when we’re lost or caught in the middle of a crossroad, we often find ourselves looking for a sign, a miracle, or divine intervention. When things aren’t going our way, we want answers. We check out all other routes except for the Lord.

Sadly, many souls today are spiritually malnourished. While we’re often in a  rush to feed the body and can fail to feed our souls.

The Earthly Manna 

Scripture tells us of a time when Jesus miraculously provided for a large, hungry group of men, women, and children. The next day, they went looking for Jesus. After Jesus fed the five thousand, men came looking after Him.


The Savior knew their hearts. They were looking for Him to satisfy their physical needs. But Jesus was offering a superior Bread. The Bread of eternal life.

He told them, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval” (John 6:26, 27, ESV).

Jesus offers us the same invitation. 

The Bread of Life

In a world of hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to hush for a while, to pause, to ponder, and to realign ourselves with our  real purpose. It’s easy to get lost and disoriented amidst life’s pressures; we tend to focus too much on the physical, temporal, and visible.

Although there is nothing wrong with attending to one’s needs, But no one but Jesus can satisfy the hunger of our souls. As He said in Matthew 4:4, In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (ESV).

In giving His body for the world, God made a way for us to be saved from eternal death. Christ promised, in John 11:26 that, “everyone who lives and believes in [Him] shall never die” (ESV).

Jesus cares for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and we can trust Him to provide. 

to worry about many things and to cling to false securities. This hinders our trust in and dependence on Christ. 

God is not indifferent to the wants of His children. He who calls us by name and  numbers the hairs on our head knows our needs and longings of our heart.

He reminds His children, Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 7:8, ESV).

Today may we remind ourselves that the God who multiplied the loaves and fishes  is the same God who will provide us too.

In Him we will receive what we truly need.

More about Heroes 2

Heroes 2 is a Bible trivia game released by the Hope Channel. It is a sequel to the game, Heroes, which was released way back in 2013. The latest game version is in its new 3D animation, comes with unique features, and has more challenging Bible questions in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. The game is available on both iOS and Android.

Find them HERE, and make sure to tell others about this app!

For those following our Chronological New Testament reading plan …

Bible plan image

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

We learn the most about God during our most violent storms. Have you noticed that? In part because that’s when life squeezes our deepest doubts, sometimes those we’re not even aware of, to the surface. His goal? Complete freedom in every part of our souls.

A woman walking in the rain

I’m dramatically different than the fear-driven woman who left her tight-knit, Southern California community nearly 20 years ago to follow her husband quite literally across the country. For a job he quit less than a year later.

Some of you may be familiar with this part of my story. After a period of homelessness, God plucked me out of my mess, with the help of my husband, and deposited me in middle-class suburbia where I found stability. I would’ve been content to stay there, in my not-yet-healed but comfortable (at least, on the surface) state. But God wanted to take me deeper.

He used my husband’s unemployment, to do so. Initially, I did not handle my anxiety well. In fact, I felt and acted much like a frightened animal who’d been backed into a corner. Like a victim to my circumstances, and really, to my husband’s choices. That was, in part, what made the situation so difficult. While I’d entrusted my eternal security to Christ, for everything else, I largely relied on my husband and his paycheck.

And suddenly, that was gone. The idol I’d erected and fortified with every bank deposit had crumbled beneath me. My fear told me that the ground I stood on was shaky, unable to support me. But it wasn’t. In truth, God was helping me plant my feet on my sure foundation, which had held me all along, Jesus Christ. He was also uprooting a major lie that made it hard for me to fully experience His love and rest in His grace—that God had favorites.

Do you ever feel that way? That someone else’s prayers will carry more weight or that they deserve more blessings than you do? Or maybe the converse—that you’re the one who’s more deserving?

While I didn’t realize it at the time, deep down I believed every provision or protection our family received came because of my husband, and in spite of me. Therefore, it made sense to me whenever something good occurred. My husband was an honest, hard working man. A Purdue graduate who’d always seemed to make all the right choices and do all the right things.

Until that winter in Louisiana. Suddenly, his actions seemed so … irresponsible. Reactionary, illogical, and even selfish.

Would God still answer our prayers?

As I wrestled with Him over my inadequacies, God spoke to my deepest need, and it wasn’t to see myself as God’s redeemed and cherished child. Oh, that was important, for sure. But I needed so much more than an accurate view of myself. I needed an accurate view of God, my Savior and Redeemer, the One who covers my insufficiencies and who loves the druggie and preacher alike. (Rom. 2:11)     

Throughout Scripture, we see examples of this truth: Without life’s storms, we might never discover the strength and security of our true anchor. Consider the disciples as they traveled, with Jesus, across the Sea of Galilee. By this point in their journey, they’d witnessed so much. Jesus feeding thousands from one boy’s lunch, casting out demons, and healing the blind. I imagine they watched each miracle in awe, maybe even slack-jawed, probably praising God the Father for the provisions through His Son.

Anchor and a cloudy sky

Until the circumstances became more personal. Potentially deadly. Scripture tells us, while they were heading to the region of the Gadarenes, a violent storm hit. One commentator suggests their boat was battered by hurricane-strength winds. It dumped enough water into their boat, they’d begun to sink.

But while they frantically fought to survive, their beloved Master slept. Seemingly oblivious to their plight. Waking Him, (and I envision them shaking Him rather roughly here), the disciples said, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38, NIV).

Have you ever been there?

God, don’t You care that my marriage is falling apart?

Don’t You care about my pain?

Don’t You care that my child is struggling so horribly?

I imagine we can all understand how the disciples felt. But Jesus wasn’t unengaged or callous. He was using the situation to reveal some key truths I’m certain planted their feet on the solid rock of Christ just as surely as my period of chaos did the same for me. Through the storm, Jesus revealed, in a powerfully vivid way, that He was the Great I Am.

You see, the ancient Jews had heard stories of godly men empowered to heal the leprous (2 Kings 5) and even bring life to the dead (1 Kings 17), as Jesus had indeed done. Up until this moment, however, He hadn’t demonstrated His power over creation. According to Jewish tradition, only God Almighty “had absolute authority over waves and sea.[1]

This is why, once Jesus quieted the wind and waves, “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” (Mark 4:41, NIV).

They had encountered not just a Rabbi or even an anointed healer but God in the flesh.

It’s during our most trying circumstances that we discover who God truly is and learn to rest in that.

Can you share a time when God used a particularly challenging situation to reveal more of Himself? How might seeking to catch glimpses of His glory, who He is, during frightening seasons help increase our peace?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.

[1] Keener, Craig S. “The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. (1993) InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL

For those following our chronological reading plan through the New Testament …

Bible reading plan image week 20

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How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Christmas candle image with quote from post

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:

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

In my rush to “fix things” I have landed in numerous messes. This is especially true when I’m feeling anxious about something. Then every moment feels like an hour and every hour like a day. Have you been there?

During Bible study or small group discussion, I can talk quite confidently about how God’s timing and ways are best. But then, something happens, something frightening or uncomfortable, and I’m tempted to sort of rush things along, if not shove the situation in whatever direction I feel best.

In those moments, I act as if I have perfect wisdom for that situation. And in my waiting, in the unknown, doubts begin to arise, whispering, “What if God doesn’t come through this time?”

Do you ever do that? In your moment of uncertainty, in the uncomfortable unknowns, do you ever wonder if God truly will help? If His plans, be they for you or for someone you love, truly will be hope-filled? And when dealing with big hurts, big fears, if you or they will be able to survive the wait.

When I find myself in that place, I like to remember historical examples of when the miracle occurred at the moment when all seemed lost. Consider the story of Esther. You might be familiar with it. A murderously jealous man named Haman tricked Persia’s ruler into ordering the destruction of all the Jews. An entire nation of people, who, quit frankly, had little recourse or hope of aid. Haman was evil, conniving, and powerful, a dangerous combination. Who could possibly stand against such a man?

The same God who can stand against the evil that assaults us each day, for as Romans 8:31 states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV). The only logical answer? No one. That’s true now, and it was true back in Esther’s day as well. No matter how bleak things seemed or how silent God seemed, He remained in full control, quietly yet decisively working behind the scenes through a seemingly unconnected yet frustrated occurrence––insomnia.

Haman went to bed that night thinking for sure his plan was as good and carried out. But while he retired with dreams of malice, the king remained awake. Perhaps hoping to lull his brain with details, “he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles, and they were read before the king.” And he learned, the man who, albeit unknown to him, Haman was so intent on killing, had acted as a national hero. Mordecai, the hero who chose to trust God even when circumstances must’ve felt so bleak, was elevated and honored, while Haman, the “destroyer” was destroyed.

This is much more than an inspiring story. It’s a revelation of who God is at His core. He sees us, even when we feel unseen. He hears us, when we feel we have no voice. And He is always, always working on our behalf, for our good and His glory. Our Haman’s will change, as will the threats they pose, but praise God, He never will.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV).

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

If you’re struggling to remain confident, trusting, amid all the uncertainty this year has brought, I encourage you to listen to my two latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episodes:

Finding Courage in Financial Uncertainty

and

Finding the Courage to Wait

If you or a loved one struggle with chronic illness, I also invite you to listen to my latest Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast titled Thriving With Chronic Illness in Marriage.

bridge picture with Proverbs 2:7-8

Imagine having deep, soul-quieting peace, regardless of the circumstance. Imagine being so rooted in Christ and His will, every step on a foggy and unclear path felt certain. Imagine experiencing deep peace even in the middle of great uncertainty. I’m convinced this is where God wants to take us, and He does so, primarily, by drawing us closer to Him.

Proverbs 2:6-11 puts it this way:

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

This passage assures us of a few things. First, while we can gain insight from a myriad of places—books, teachers, friends—all wisdom comes from one place: God. Most of us recognize this intellectually, but do we live this practically? When uncertainty arises, where do we go first? Our friend, spouse, or trusted spiritual leader, or to Christ? And what voice do we give most weight to? What’s more, what voice do we most have the courage to wait on?

That’s what I find most challenging. I’m quick to seek God’s guidance, but can lose footing in the waiting. Life can feel so urgent. I fear, if I don’t act now, I’ll miss an opportunity or the situation will implode beyond repair. But this type of thinking demonstrates I’ve lost sight of a few things, such as the fact that God is so much bigger than me, that His love is greater than my mistakes and ability to understand Him, and that He will, always, guide me toward His very best.

That’s the second assurance this passage in Proverbs provides. The Lord truly does give us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He’s not stingy. If His desire is that you and I remain in step with Him, will He not give us whatever we need in order to do so? But this wisdom doesn’t come from periodic and impersonal downloads as we’re frantically running about. It comes as we live in relationship with Christ. Day by day, as we read Scripture and closer to Him, He begins to transform our thinking and desires, pouring His wisdom into our hearts.

Finally, this Proverbs passage reminds us of God’s grace as He lovingly leads us toward His very best. As we wait for this transformation to occur, for truth to replace our areas of deception and wisdom our folly, we can trust this: Our God is a good, good Father who doesn’t treat us as our sins and stupid errors deserve. Instead, He gently, persistently nudges us along the way. Scripture makes two truths clear: God has a plan for us and has taken full responsibility of that plan.

Oh, we can rebel against it. We can seek out our plans over God’s, and rob ourselves of the peace, fulfillment, and joy our souls were created for.

But if we’re honestly trying to honor Christ, we can trust Him to direct our steps and protect our way. In the meantime, we keep woman on beach with text from poststepping, with our eyes on Him, maintaining a heart of surrender, prioritizing our relationship with Him above all. Knowing He’s with us, going before us, standing beside us and behind us. He encompasses us in His love, and His love, when received to the depths of our soul, truly does have the power to cast out all fear, fear of the unknown included.

Let’s talk about this! Pause to consider your journey thus far. Review where you’ve been and all the steps, some that perhaps, in hindsight proved vital, though you were unaware of their impact at the time? If you’re in a period of uncertainty now, what truths regarding who God is and what He’s promised can help you find peace? And perhaps most importantly, what is one thing you can do this week to grow closer to the God who knows you, loves you, and has an amazing, hope-filled plan for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If today’s post resonated with you, I encourage you to listen to my Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled the Courage to Face Uncertainty. You can find it HERE.

If you’re in a place of waiting, I encourage you to listen to my Faith Over Fear episode titled: The courage to Wait. You can find it HERE.

Before you go, and especially for those currently navigating challenging relationships, I encourage you to watch my latest iBelieve video devotion. You can find it HERE.

For those struggling with the pain and fatigue of chronic illness, I encourage you to read my latest Crosswalk on finding joy amid chronic illness HERE.

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

Social media reveals our hearts quote

If you want to know what’s truly in a person’s heart, what they believe and value most, simply scroll through their social media feed. Especially during election season or a global pandemic. This holds true for all of us, myself included. My Facebook engagement reveals where I’m placing my trust. In a political system driven by fallible humans? In myself and my ability to type out a strong and convincing argument? Or in Jesus and the eternal life He grants us?

I understand all the apparent chaos in our world triggers anxiety. And how do most of us respond to these unsettling emotions? Most often, we grasp for control, or perhaps I should say, to our illusion of it. But what if our most fervent, passionate efforts are hindering our greatest call to know God intimately and make Him known?

About ten years ago, I engaged in conversations with an atheist. Initially, our discussions felt productive. Soon, however, our interaction turned contentious as we both sought to convince the other of our vastly different positions. Not only did my most logical arguments prove ineffective; but my steadily increasing pride, evident by my complete lack of grace, distorted Christ in me.

I’m certain this grieved God’s heart. I misrepresented my Savior, the One who had entrusted me with the very words of life. In my desire to be right and oh so wise, I’d forgotten that “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17, ESV). Paraphrase of James 3:17

God’s wisdom is:

  • Pure, uncontaminated with sin, including self-righteousness and pride. This goes much deeper than any outward behavior to a purity that extends to the core of our being.

 

  • Demonstrative of a wholeness that stems from operating completely in God’s will.

 

  • Gentle, which in this case, means moderate and equitable.

 

  • Someone who truly listens and seeks to understand.

 

  • Full of mercy and good fruits, the kind that stems from our deep and constant connection with Christ. (John 15:1-5).

 

In my interaction with that atheist, I wasn’t yielding to Christ and His power within me, nor was I worshiping the Creator and Ruler of all. Instead, I was worshipping myself. The result? Nothing good. The man didn’t move one step closer to the Giver of life, the only one with the power to change his heart and his perspective. If anything, I fear I may have pushed the atheist further from Christ.

And while I won’t receive a do-over, each day God does grant me a “try again.” He offers that to us all. What if we considered our social media feeds something of training grounds as we learned to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on ourselves. As we do, we’ll more consistently reveal all those beautiful qualities Scripture promises He births within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

My spiritual maturity is most clearly revealed not in how well I quote verses or how logically I phrase biblical arguments. Rather, I reveal the depth of my love for Christ and my worship of Him in how well I love. May God’s most precious fruit first fill me so fully, there’s room for nothing else, then flow from me. In this, may others “taste and see that the Lord” truly “is good” (Psalm 34:8, ESV).

How, then, can I become more spiritually mature—before my fingers race across my keyboard?

I need to:

  1. Prioritize my time with Christ. I can’t love like Him apart from Him.
  2. Find and stay connected with an accountability partner—who watches my social media engagement. My husband fills this role for me.
  3. When tempted to engage in an argument, ask myself why. Most often, I find my pride has been pricked, and Scripture says God opposes the proud. I certainly don’t want that!
  4. Pull away to pray when I first feel my muscles tense. And here’s what’s great about this. The more we scroll past posts and comments that irritate us or tempt us to argue, the easier it becomes to do so in the future. But the converse is also true. The more we jump in and allow ourselves to get riled up, the more frequent our contentious responses will become.
  5. Meditate on the cross and my need for it. That always tends to refocus my priorities on the things of eternity.

Join me. This election season, may we continually invite God to examine and purify our hearts, so that we honor the One who gave His life so that we might live and then proclaim that life to others.

We may also need to set boundaries as we work to guard our peace and prioritize our time with Jesus. If you struggle with this, you might find my latest Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast episode helpful: Setting Boundaries P. 2