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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women friends with quote from post

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

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

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

How might you answer those same questions?

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

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

And check out the latest Faith Over Fear podcast:

The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75 Faith Over Fear

What happens when the places God designed to lead us closer to Him, to healing and wholeness, and freedom, become hurtful and toxic? When past hurts create present anxiety that make it challenging for us to enter church buildings, join community groups, and connect with Christ? Unfortunately, many people wrestle with these questions as they try to make sense of God. For those who have been wounded by people in positions of authority, it can be hard to untangle truth from human criticism and God’s character from the false representation of Him. In this episode, Minister Dawn Gentry, the Executive Director of Adult Ministries at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and Jennifer’s daughter, Ashley Chester, discuss some of the church hurts they’ve experienced and witnessed and how God helped them move toward increased wholeness and gave them the courage to overcome lies spoken into their hearts in order live for Him. Find Dawn Gentry at: https://followinggodanyway.com https://www.facebook.com/dawn.gentry2 https://www.instagram.com/gentry2987/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Book Dawn mentioned: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. Why do hurts related to faith hurt so deeply? 3. When have you been told, in the context of religion, that you’re not enough or that you’re “too much”? How did this make you feel? 4. How would you describe a toxic faith group? 5. How would you describe a healthy faith group? 6. When has a past hurt hindered your ability to attend church, join a group, or connect with God? 7. What are some healthy ways group members can respond to another member’s doubts or questions? 8. What are some unhealthy responses to someone’s doubts or questions? 9. What are some ways a person can begin to separate hurts they’ve experienced from the love of God? 10. Why is it important to always remember who we are in Christ? 11. What is one action step God is inviting you to take based on today’s episode? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Image_Jungle
  1. The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75
  2. Introducing: Reframed The Power of Perspective
  3. Healing from Religious Abuse (with Philip Yancey) – Ep. 74
  4. The Courage to Seek Counseling – Ep. 73
  5. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72


Sometimes we can become so focused on where we wish God would work that we’re unable to see where He’s working all around us. We can become so fixated on trying to shove through a closed door, we miss a thousand other openings He’s prepared for us.

About five years ago, my husband and I decided to become more intentional with outreach. God had recently opened our eyes to some pretty deep hurts in our community—generational hurts often experienced by families attempting to navigate our world alone. Struggles we understood, because we’d been there. We’d been the couple with the failing marriage, the family with suffocating debt. The man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father who desperately wanted to do better, to live and love better, but felt powerless to change for any significant period of time.

Then one afternoon, a woman in our neighborhood invited me to church, and so I went. At first, I went alone, but soon, my husband joined me. We began to learn what life with Jesus—real life period!—could look like, and bit by bit, everything changed. He steadily, progressively broke the chains that bound us, healed our hurts, and purified and deepened our love for one another.

And we wanted everyone we knew to experience that same freedom, a freedom we knew could only come from a thriving relationship in Christ. We soon discovered, however, not everyone wanted that. Some people—the very people we felt led to reach out to, in fact, appeared unreceptive to our message and really anything other than surface level interactions. Yet, we persevered, for years, with zero results. I began to feel discouraged. I knew God had called us, as Christ followers, to share His truth. But how could we, when no one seemed interested in hearing it?

Our excitement started to fade, but then God began to shift our view. In the midst of that seemingly unfruitful year, He brought people into our circle—people looking for community, for support, and for truth. Honestly, it took me a while to shift my direction. In my stubborn fixation on how I was expecting God to work, I almost missed all the miracles He was inviting us to participate in.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus’s disciples seemed to struggle with a similar problem. They abandoned everything to follow Jesus on His eternal, life-saving mission, but He often took them places and to speak to people they never expected. A Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter. Tax collectors, peasants, the lame, and the leper. And a five-times married Samaritan woman, someone Rabbis in their day would’ve gone great lengths to avoid.

But Jesus sought her out, spoke truth into her heart, and used her to reach her entire village. Those of you familiar with the hatred Jews felt for Samaritans, and Samaritan women especially, who were considered perpetually “unclean” can envision how shocking this must’ve been. I imagine their shock intensified, maybe even turning to disgust, when their respected teacher agreed to stay in that Samaritan village, eating off their dishes, sleeping in their homes, for two days.

Based on Christ’s words to His likely stunned disciples, this was not the ministry they’d been expecting. He said, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35, NIV).

It’s like He was saying, “Open your eyes to what God is doing all around you. Speak to those He’s already preparing. Those who are hungry for life change.”

I wonder if He’s saying the same to us. We should reach out to everyone, absolutely. But may we never become so fixated on how we expect or hope God to work that we miss a whole village anxious for truth.

Let’s talk about this. First, I’d love to hear if you’re enjoying our chronological stroll through the New Testament. Today’s passage, John 4:27-38, kicks off week seven. Second, I’d love to read about times when God opened your eyes to a ministry outlet you might’ve otherwise missed. What did God teach you through that? Did anything else stand out to you in today’s passage?

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

couple sitting with backs turned to each otherI can easily fall prey to our “fix-it-quick”, culture, tossing out truths that are, well, true, but fail to hit their mark. In fact, there’ve been times when I’ve caused more harm than good. When I’ve hurt others and damaged relationships. Usually my motives were good. I desperately wanted friends and loved ones to come to Jesus. I wanted them to experience the life, healing, and freedom only He can offer.

But in my zeal (often coupled by fear), I took off running and verse touting and left the Holy Spirit far behind. I was convinced I was right. After all, I only spoke truth, and truth sets people free, right?

Besides, Jesus never shied away from hard conversations, nor did He worry about offending people. When He encountered the adulterous woman, didn’t He tell her to go and sin no more? And the “invalid” He healed by the pool of Bethesda to stop sinning?

Yes and yes, but He also told the Samaritan woman who’d cycled through men (or perhaps had been discarded by them) to go and grab her husband. And the tax collector in Matthew nine to “follow Him.”

In other words, Jesus addressed each individual individually, speaking directly to their deepest needs, deceptions, and unique stumbling blocks. But He had something you and I don’t—insight.word image Jesus knew the history, hurts, and fallacies each of them held. In fact, He knew each man and woman better than they knew themselves. So when He spoke, He always hit His mark.

You and I don’t have that insight, nor do we always invest the time necessary to gain it. At least. When engaging others in spiritual conversations, I didn’t even consider there might be deeper issues involved.

But then God reminded me of my story. Through I trusted in Jesus for salvation at a young age, I didn’t begin growing in Him until my early adult years. Actually, for a while I spiraled in the opposite direction, living a drunken, partying, throw-myself-away type of lifestyle. By the time I met my husband, I was consumed with shame and self-loathing.

Around then, pastors started coming around. Not just one, but two. One would come knocking at our door, would step inside and talk with us a bit, and then leave. Another took my husband and I out to lunch with him and his wife. I don’t remember much of what either of them said, but I do recall the warmth in their smiles and the easy way they conversed. I remember the way they made me feel—safe. Loved. Welcomed.

The interesting thing is, my husband I were living together, unmarried, at the time. In other words, living in sin. (Though my worldview was so warped, I didn’t think a thing of our lifestyle. It seemed normal to me.)

Had those men come at me with “truth”, they only would’ve deepened my shame and pushed me away. They would’ve confirmed to me what I already believed—that I was worthless and disgusting. Bad. Not just that I was doing bad, but that I was bad. I understood that I was a sinner. What I didn’t understand, what I needed to see, was grace.

That’s exactly what those pastors showed me. With every interaction, they revealed the gentle love of Christ. A love that beckoned and drew me, that healed me bit by bit, and ultimately, transformed me.

Because Jesus knew my story. He knew what was keeping me from living in His will. While it’s true my lifestyle was very contrary to God’s desire for me, this wasn’t because I was actively trying to rebel against Him. Rather, it was because I’d given up on myself.

I needed Jesus, revealed through the grace-filled actions of others, to rekindle my hope so that, eventually, I had the desire to reach for life.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should never speak truth nor that we should accept or coddle sinful behavior. What I am saying is we should approach each broken, hurting child of God carefully and prayerfully, being careful to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

I often think of how I might talk to someone standing on a rooftop, ready to jump. I think of how alert, how attentive, how “others-focused” I’d be. My greatest desire in that moment would be not to say anything that would tip them over the edge and to coax them, ever-so-gently towards life.

That might seem like a drastic analogy, until we remember, with every interaction, real lives are at stake, lives that will either spend eternity with Jesus or separated from Him. That doesn’t mean we should become paralyzed by fear of messing up. But it does mean we should ensure, with each conversation, that God, and not our pride or our fear, is doing the leading. Only He knows when to speak truth and how much, when to listen, and when to simply say, “I love you, and I’m here.”

Let’s talk about this! Is there someone you’re trying to reach out to? How can you build trust and get to know them better—beyond surface level? Would you add anything to my thoughts? Do you perhaps disagree? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.