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:

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

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Quote on prayer from Max Lucado on a picture with a candle.

What do we do when our loved one has barricaded themselves from God? When, despite our desperate prayers and all the times and ways we’ve tried to reach out, they slip further from Him and into greater deception, greater sin, and greater emotional and spiritual slavery? In those situations, when decades pass with no hint of progress, it’s easy to give up. To conclude the person is simply too hard-hearted.

Have you been there? I have. With that friend who’s so quick to downplay and discount the miraculous. With the relative who, during times of crisis, seemed so open to spiritual conversations, only to numb themselves with Netflix and social media once their difficulties pass. That individual that had been so clearly touched by God, was being drawn by Him, then turned the other way.

When that happens, our fervent and steadfast prayers can turn rote. Then silent.

At least, that tends to be my progression. But then God reminds me, no matter how dark the human heart or how bleak things appear, His arm is never too short, His hearing and His heart never too dull, to save.

May we all exhibit the courage of the Canaanite woman who pushed her way into a house filled with religious students, and Jewish ones at that, for the sake of her child. You can read her full story in Matthew 15. To paraphrase, Scripture tells us Jesus and His disciples traveled 30-40 miles into Gentile country where they found a place to stay.

I imagine this made the disciples quite uncomfortable—to be in Gentile territory, in a Gentile home, most likely eating off of Gentile dishes. According to 19th century theologian Charles Ellicott, “The strict Jew would not enter a Gentile’s house, nor sit on the same couch, nor eat or drink out of the same vessel.” To them, “the very dust of a heathen city was defiling.”

But there was Jesus, intentionally taking His disciples into Tyre, a port city known for its idolatry, corrupt merchants, and sexual immorality. This would’ve been the equivalent to the mega-church pastor and his staff sleeping at the local crack house.

The disciples must have felt on edge from the moment they crossed over ancient Israel’s borders. But before they’d even had a chance to settle in, a Gentile woman barged into the house.

A woman with a demon possessed daughter.

To the Jewish mind, I’m not sure this situation could’ve been any more “unclean.”

The more devout would’ve seen this intruding woman as a threat. Rather than a desperate mother pleading for the life of her child, the girl she’d once nursed and swaddled and sang to sleep. The daughter she’d watched take her first steps and speak her first words, ravished and enslaved.

How did the disciples respond to this woman’s anguished pleas? In essence, “She’s a nuisance. Get her out of here.”

And I have to wonder, who’s my Canaanite? That person I’m tempted to categorize by their sin rather than their humanity? The one I’ve deemed hopeless, beyond God’s love and grace? The person who, if I’m honest, disgusts me?

And who is fervently praying for that person I’m so quick to cast aside, as I am for my loved one and this anguished mother was for her child: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!”

In this simple yet profound address, the woman displayed more faith than the “righteous” Pharisees who’d gotten all worked up over some dirty dishes in the passage prior. More faith, perhaps, than the disciples acting so contemptuous before her. She knew Jesus was her daughter’s only hope and so she boldly came. She refused to leave until she received what she came for—her daughter made whole.

That was precisely what Christ provided.

Jesus said to her, “‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment” (Matthew 15:28, NIV).

Here’s what I find most inspiring. The woman’s daughter wasn’t going to come to Jesus on her own. In fact, had she encountered Him, I imagine she would’ve cussed Him out or mocked Him. She was about as far from Christ as a person could get. A hopeless case, from a human perspective.

But her mom wasn’t dissuaded by human logic, the disciple’s scorn, nor Jesus’s delayed response. Her love for her daughter was simply too strong.

I want that same kind of determined, persevering faith, whether I must pray for a day, a week, or years.   

We all have “Canaanites” in our circle, maybe even in our families. Those people we fear might be too far from God. Those loved ones we’ve prayed for for decades, only to see them slip further from Christ. But even now, God’s arm is not too short to save.

Our prayers matter.

Who have you been desperately praying for? How does this woman from Tyre encourage you to persist? Share your thoughts, and your prayer requests, with us in the comments below, and let’s encourage and pray for and with one another!

For those following our chronological reading through the New Testament, can you believe we’re on week 26?! Here’s this week’s reading, beginning with the account of this faith-filled Canaanite woman:

Week 26 New Testament Chronological Reading Plan Daily Readings

And, fun news! Wholly Loved Unshakable Unbreakable Joy Bible study is now available for FREE! Grab your copy HERE.

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

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Years ago, in the middle of what felt like a crisis, God challenged me to consider how deep my loyalties lay. Really, to consider who He truly was to me. Would I treat Him as a Genie or a motivational guru who offered plithy words of affirmation when I needed an emotional boost, or would I live as if He truly was my Lord?

This was about thirteen years ago, during what I term my “Louisiana experience” when God’s healing work within me intensified in a way that left me reeling. I felt as if I was reliving some key, devastating moments and was free-falling into some of my greatest fears.

I wanted Him to fix my circumstances–immediately. To save our house, save our finances and really, our way of life.

But Christ wanted to fix my soul, and so, in the middle of my desperate prayers, He asked, “Do you love Me now.”

In other words, “If I don’t answer your prayers as you hope, will you still choose Me?”

He was challenging me to evaluate my expectations, and to toss them if need be.

Some 2,000 years ago, the men and women of Nazareth faced a similar choice. Would they accept that Jesus, the One from whom, perhaps they’d purchased furniture from, was the long-promised Messiah? They must’ve heard about all the miracles He’d performed. How He’d healed people of their diseases, cast out demons, and even raised a dead girl to life. The people were amazed by all He did and said, until He made it clear, He wasn’t just a prophet or well-spoken teacher. He wasn’t just Someone out to better their day. He was God’s anointed Savior, His Son, with the full authority that entailed.

Reading from Isaiah 61:1-3, He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
    because He has anointed Me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).

20  Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21b, NIV).

The Jews wanted a Savior, just not the One standing before them. No. They wanted a much more regal, more prestigious, and more political, less … rustic Messiah. And so they scoffed, rejecting the freedom Christ offered because it didn’t come packaged as they’d expected.

And while I’ve accepted God’s free gift of salvation, there’ve been times when I’ve resisted His Spirit. I’ve learned, after stumbling down numerous exhausting dead ends, however, His is the only path that leads to freedom. He truly did come to bring good news to the poor, freedom for the oppressed and the enslaved.

These words, which Jesus read to the people in that Nazarene synagogue some 2,000 years ago, were originally spoken by the prophet Isaiah during a dark time in Israel’s history. After a short period of revival, the people had once again slipped into idolatry. God warned them, again and again, if they didn’t repent, judgment would come. But even then, God wouldn’t abandon them forever. Life wouldn’t always be hard and painful; eventually, jubilee, a day of joy and freedom, would come.

God makes that same promise to us. Whether we’re suffering the consequences of our sin or perhaps sin that’s been done to us, we can trust good will come. His heart is for us always. When we remember that He truly did come to set the captive free, we’ll find it easier to surrender to His lead, even when His plans or methods don’t match our temporary expectations.   

For those following the Chronological New Testament Reading plan, please note, the NIV Chronological Bible placed today’s passage (Luke 4:16-32) in a different chronological order.

This week’s reading plan:

We pray differently when we recognize God as our Father. Not in a figurative, authority figure sense or as a harsh rule enforcer, but as the benevolent, attentive, dare I even say doting all-powerful Dad that He is. When we don’t understand or fully embrace those truths, we tend to approach God hesitantly. Maybe even apologetically. We say things like, “I know others are dealing with so much worse, but could You please …” Or, “I hate to bother You with this, Lord …”

I don’t think my daughter has ever approached a conversation with me or my husband with such disclaimers. I have, however, witnessed this hesitation in youth our family has taken in over the years. Kids who come from rough places and who’ve developed a distorted view of the parent-child relationship, and ultimately, a skewed understanding of love. Of themselves as well.

Past hurts and abandonments, often by the very people who were supposed to keep them safe, tainted their perspectives. They struggled to recognize, understand, and fully accept their worth. As a result, if they sought my help, or my ear, at all, they did so timidly, entering my room or office with eyes downcast, as if their very presence irritated me.

The opposite is true. When they approached me with confidence, with honest and unfiltered requests, I didn’t find them rude or bothersome. I was filled with joy because their actions revealed trust—of me and my love. I knew they’d begun to see themselves less as a tenant or guest and more like a beloved child. That’s when the depth of relationship my heart desired was both built and revealed.

If you’re a parent, you can probably understand what I mean. Maybe you’re smiling at a memory of your son or daughter running into your bedroom, begging for a pony or something else you had no intention of granting. Or asking for protection from monsters you knew don’t exist. I doubt their pleas irritated you. In fact, you probably came to expect this. You expected them to ask for the big things and the small, the things you loved to grant and those you lovingly withheld. That was your role—to decide what requests to fulfill or deny, just as it was their proper place to ask.

Jesus offered us, His beloved, this same invitation when He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NIV). He then shared an analogy intended to deepen our understanding of our Heavenly Father at His core and who we are to Him.

Matthew 7:7 on blue background with floral accents

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Jesus said. “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-10, NIV).

If we interpret Christ’s words as a promise to grant all of our desires, we’ll become disappointed and disillusioned. If we receive His words as the caring invitation they are, however, our confidence in Him and His heart for us grows—regardless of His response.

He truly is a good, loving, faithful, and attentive Father always focused on our best. His heart is for us always, and He longs to grant us not just good things, as Jesus so clearly proclaimed, but full access to Himself as our Savior, our Creator, and as our Dad. That doesn’t mean He wants us to embrace a flippant and entitled attitude. That’s not relationship; that’s not love. But He does want us to come. To come often, to come easily, and to come with the boldness of someone who knows they are indeed wholly, eternally, and oh, so deeply loved.

Pause to consider your common approach to prayer. Do you proceed to God’s throne with the confidence of a child of God and heir of grace (Hebrews 4:16) or with the timidity of a tenant?

What might God need to do within your heart to help you more readily and authentically draw closer to Him?

For those following the chronological Bible reading plan, today’s post focused on day one’s reading.

Chronological Bible reading plan week 15

If you missed the Beautiful Mess Mother-Daughter event, fun news! You and your loved ones can still enjoy the content. Find out more HERE.

Before you go, I invite you to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear podcast.

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

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

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

Picture of woman prayingIf our prayers reveal our hearts, our desires, than mine demonstrate that I’ve become overly entangled in today. Or perhaps more accurately, that I frequently lose sight of eternity. I ask God to alleviate my friends’ and loved ones’ pain, to protect them from harm, and to pour His blessings upon them. And while there’s nothing wrong with those requests––God wants us to bring all our needs before Him––He invites all of us to go deeper.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the prayers of Paul, recorded in his letters to ancient believers. He was perhaps the most effective missionary and church planter in the history of christendom. He was a man of action, but he was also a man of prayer. Of powerful, soul-stirring, life-changing prayer.

Here’s what I find significant. The people Paul prayed for were experiencing intense persecution. Deep pain. Most likely fierce fear. They were losing jobs, their homes, and for some, their lives.

So, how did Paul pray for them? Did he ask God to keep them safe? To alleviate their suffering?

Perhaps, but those aren’t the requests that were recorded and preserved for all time. Instead, we see a man completely focused on Christ and His mission––His mission for the world, and for every person Paul encountered.

To the Colossians, he wrote, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,  because … of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people …” (Col. 1:3-6, NIV).

He thanked God for their faith and the fruit it bore.

To the Thessalonians he wrote, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.  We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:2-3).

Again, he thanked God for their faith and the fruit it bore, and the endurance Christ had given them.

To the Philippians he wrote, “…  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6, NIV).

Do you see the pattern?

I’m sure Paul felt the same concern for his brothers and sister in Christ that you and I share for our loved ones. While I imagine he prayed for their welfare and provision, he remained focused on their growth in Christ.

He understood, in a way my mama’s heart easily forgets, that God had called each of those ancient believers to something glorious, something eternal. To become like Christ and live for Him.

I want to do the same.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop asking God to protect, bless, and provide for my friends and family. But it does inspire me to expand my view so that I may begin to see them and their situation through His eyes, through the lens of eternity.

Yes, I want God to care for my loved ones today. But even more, I want Him to grow their faith, change and strengthen their hearts, and empower them to change their world.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you pray for your loved one’s spiritual growth? Who might God be calling you to pray for today?

Some battles are far too important, far too consequential, for us to ever attempt to fight them alone.

This has become clearer to me now more than ever. God recently called me to engage in a battle so far beyond me, where the opposition felt so fierce and unconquerable, I knew Christ was my only hope. Therefore, I’m seeking Him and His will like I never have before, and I’m refusing to fight alone. I’ve gathered a group of women, nearly 30 in fact, to engage in the most powerful way possible—on our knees. And we’re experiencing Christ in a way, frankly, I never have before.

woman praying

Something miraculous, completely mind-blowing, occurs when we come together, seek God’s heart, and diligently pray as He leads. He moves in powerful ways. In ways that remind us that He truly is our all-powerful, loving, sovereign faithful God.

And I’m wondering why I don’t pray more. The only conclusion I’ve come up with is that I tend to make far too much of myself—my wisdom and efforts—and far too little of God. Because if I truly believed everything I claimed, that He indeed is the God over all of history, who knows the best course of action for every situation and has the power to bring His hope-filled, life-giving will to pass, then prayer would be my first response. Always.

Prayer isn’t about us convincing God to act in a particular way. Effective prayer is about us surrendering our hearts to Christ and inviting Him to mold us so that like our Savior we’re able to say, “God, not my will but Yours be done.” When we do that, our prayers become strategic, and you and I become empowered warriors in the battle against darkness.

Consider this quote, from the anonymous author of the Kneeling Christian: “When Christ is all in all—when He is Savior and Lord and King of our whole being, then it is really He who prays our prayers.”

Lord, guide us. Move us. Empower us. Use us. We know this battle before us ultimately belongs to You, and we know You have already won. Help us to always walk as victors, with the confidence and assurance of knowing that we belong to the Lord of lords and King of kings. And help us to trust, to hold tight to faith, even if that means disregarding “sight” while we wait for Your victory to unfold. (Hebrews 11:1)

For those following my Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast, make sure to check out my latest episode with Wholly Loved team member Victoria Mejias on knowing when to rest and when to push through. You can listen here:

Episode 13: Knowing When to Push and When to Rest Thriving with Chronic Illness

Balancing our time and energy with chronic illness can feel challenging and confusing. If we never push through when feeling unwell, we’ll likely never accomplish anything. However, we can easily overdo things, stealing our “jelly beans” as Jennifer terms it, and thus leaving us too fatigued for our highest priority tasks or activities. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery speaks with her Wholly Loved Ministry partner Victoria Mejias on how Victoria manages her time, energy, and symptoms as a single mom with progressive multiple sclerosis. Find Victoria online at: https://www.VictoriaElizabeth.com Find Jennifer Slattery at: http://jenniferSlatteryLivesoutLoud https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte Find her and Victoria’s ministry at: http://whollyloved.com Additional Resources: Faith Over Fear: Living with a Limp: https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/episode-4-the-courage-to-live-with-a-limp-embracing-our-weakness Faith Over Fear: The Courage to Have Hard Conversations: https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/the-courage-to-have-hard-conversations-ep-18 Group Discussion Questions: 1. How unpredictable are your symptoms? 2. What are some ways you can leave margin for unexpected difficult days? 3. How accurately does your schedule mirror your priorities? 4. What most challenges your ability to “push through” difficult days when necessary? 5. What most challenges your ability to rest when necessary? 6. In what ways do you struggle with guilt related to your limitations or necessary boundaries? 7. What lies are tied to your guilt? 8. What truths regarding Christ, His plans and power, and who you are in Him, can speak to your guilt? 9. What other fears are tied to your limitations or necessary boundaries? 10. What truths regarding Christ, His power and plans, and your identity in Him, can speak to those fears? 11. Is there anything God might be asking you to do in relation to what you take on and what you release? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Biscotto87
  1. Episode 13: Knowing When to Push and When to Rest
  2. Episode 12: How Chronic Illness Can Deepen Our Intimacy with Christ
  3. Episode 11: Thriving with Chronic Illness in Marriage
  4. Episode 10: Growing Intentionally Instead of Giving Up
  5. Episode 9: Pursuing Health in Our Relationships

You can check out my latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode on Finding the Courage to Obey here:

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

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: https://www.gracefox.com/blog https://www.facebook.com/gracefox.author https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram! Find Wholly Loved Ministries HERE.

Quote regarding a life committed to God on colorful background

I can easily become entitled. This can remain hidden when life goes well. But when difficulties hit, I find myself battling a slowly corroding heart, half of which longs to surrender to Christ while the rest fights for “self.”

About a decade ago, our family experienced a period of upheaval that triggered some pretty deep and latent wounds. We’d moved across the country six months prior, something I hadn’t wanted to do. I’d just begun to get settled and connected with the local faith and home school communities, when my husband quit his job. Though the logical side of my brain, which shrunk considerably in that moment, understood why, my insecure child threw a fit.

Soon fear turned into bitterness that morphed into depression. As our savings dwindled and we made plans to move yet again, my anger grew. I found the situation unjust, as if I were a victim to my husband’s decisions.

In short, I determined I deserved better. When my life began to crumble, my sense of entitlement wreaked havoc with my peace and surrender.

Somehow I’d forgotten that all life is a gift. I’d forgotten the beauty of salvation—that years prior, my holy God looked down on rebellious and self-destructing me, and in place of judgement, offered me mercy and grace. Whenever I lose sight of the cross, of who God is and all He’s done, my heart begins to turn. Ugliness seeps in, whispering toxic lies like, “This isn’t fair,” and “You deserve better.” The more I listen, the darker my world becomes.

That winter, I began plunging into a gloom that felt heavy and oppressive and might’ve swallowed up everything precious and right in my life, had God not intervened. But He did, with one simple yet profound question:

“Do you love Me now?”

I understood precisely what He was asking. He wanted to know if my love was based on what He did or didn’t give me. Was it a shallow, conditional love that expanded when blessings came and shrunk during hardships? Or did the One who bled and died for me have my heart?

Tears poured down my face as reality hit—not just regarding my current plight, but of who Christ was, in all His risen glory. He’d given His life so that I might live, and in that moment, I gave mine back to Him. I surrendered.

As I did, peace and joy rushed in, giving me the strength to endure our challenges well as I leaned fully on Him.

Now, when entitlement begins to rise up, I contemplate Scriptures like Psalm 8. Written as a hymn, the words remind me of who God is and who I am in relation to Him.

“Lord, our Lord,” David wrote, calling Him not just Yahweh, the powerful Creator, but Adonia, his master as well.

“How majestic is your name … You have set Your glory in the heavens …” (v. 1). There I pause, for as long as necessary, prayerfully meditating on God’s power and vastness. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind” or who is Jennifer Slattery “that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?” (v. 3-4).

Who am I, sinful and rebellious and often woefully deceived, that You, my Lord, would notice me? That You would die for me?quote from post with colorful background

When I meditate on the cross, everything else begins to fade. And all I can say is, “Thank You.”

Let’s talk about this! When has a sense of entitlement stolen your peace and joy? How did God redirect you back to gratitude, surrender, and praise?

Speaking of tending our hearts, have you checked out Jennifer Slattery’s Bible reading plan, Cultivating a Thankful Heart? You can find it HERE. And keep an eye out for her upcoming podcast, Faith Over Fear, hosted by Salem communications and her correlating Faith Over Fear Bible reading plan on YouVersion. Both will release in early 2020.

Additional resources:

Entitlement Will Rob You of Rest by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik on Desiring God

The Entitlement Cure: The Path to Jesus by Dr. Townsend

Freedom From Entitlement by Jennifer Slattery

Fighting Discontentment by Jennifer Slattery

The Entitlement Cure by Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

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If God is sovereign, why pray? If He already knows precisely how everything in all the world, my life included, will play out, what’s the purpose in laying my requests before Him? Why not simply bow my head, say, “Thy will be done,” and move on to more productive matters like serving in soup kitchens, orphanages, and nurseries?

I suspect we’ve all wrestled with these questions. I have. I’ve even brought them to God in prayer, as ironic as that may sound. And as I sat in His presence, He met me and showered me with His love and grace. My requests became conversations, my fears and anxieties pathways to certainty, and my unmet earthly desires avenues to becoming filled with something more sustaining and satisfying than anything I might acquire apart from Him.

Yellow background with text pulled from post.Through prayer, God redirects, instructs, and fills my heart while purging it of everything that gets in His way. He reveals hidden motives, undetected sins, and bits of deception that, if not dealt with, hinder my faith, my journey, and my relationship with Him. Often, I begin with a frustration or concern, but as His love reigns over me, it overpowers every angst filled thought with truth.

When I fear financial difficulties, He reminds me He’s my provider and that all the world, a thousand banks included, sit under His command.

When illness steals the health of those I love, He assures me He holds all of eternity, their life included, in His grasp.

When I’m watching someone I care deeply for flounder and fight their way to maturity, He gently directs me to Philippians 1:6, which tells me He is working, at this moment, to grow them in Him. He won’t let go, leave them as orphans, nor will He let up until His will, in their life and mine, has come to pass.

There’s such peace in knowing that. In recognizing that God has a good, loving, and hope-filled plan for each of His children and is fully capable of bringing it to pass. When I pause to reflect on that truth, promised numerous times throughout Scripture, my soul quiets itself like a weaned child resting in the arms of its mother.

You may be familiar with that reference of a content and satiated toddler, and of the story behind the man who wrote it. It’s found in Psalm 131, written by David, Israel’s second king. Anointed as a youth, he endured years of persecution and betrayal before seeing God’s plans unfold. In the waiting, he fled his homeland in fear for his life, hid in the wilderness, caves, and acted like a madman. But though sorrow and fears assaulted him, they never remained. God never allowed them to take root. Instead, as David sat in the presence of the Almighty, loved from the hairs on his head to the tips of his toes, God led him on a gentle but empowering journey to faith.

Psalm 59 is one of my favorite examples, written after David, afraid for his life, flees a murderous king by climbing out his window. His prayer begins with desperate pleas but ends with courage, confidence and peace.

“Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. … I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me!” (Ps. 59:1-2, 4b).

Can you sense his desperation? It’s as if he’s saying, “Don’t You see? Why have You allowed this?”

But then, in the middle of his turmoil, God draws him deeper into His embrace, and David’s heart overflows with praise. “You are my strength,” he says “O Lord our shield” (vs. 9a, 11b). “My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets” (v. 14). In other words, they’re real and terrifying, but David knew God was greater. “As for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will Psalm 59:17bsing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You” not castle strongholds, weapons of warfare, or armed soldiers “have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” (v. 16).

I love that last line and the promise it provides. God is our refuge and safety, and we can always rest in His love. As we come to Him with our heartfelt concerns, He quiets the angst within and replaces it with unshakable confidence and peace.

Though He may indeed answer our prayers as we hope, He anchors us in something infinitely deeper, more solid, and more enduring—Himself and His unfailing love.

I don’t know your requests or how God will answer. But I can promise this:

He sees you. (Psalm 34:15)

He hears you. (Psalm 34:6)

He loves you unfailingly. (Psalm 57:3)

He will fulfill His purposes for you. (Psalm 57:2)

He surrounds and defends you. (Psalm 34:7)

When your heart breaks, He holds you close. (Psalm 34:18)

He is faithful, strong, attentive and true. (Deut. 7:9, Ps. 28:7, John 3:33)

Let’s talk about this! Do you have any favorite Psalms, most specifically, those written by ancient Israel’s King David? If so, which ones and why do you treasure that passage? Have you ever used one of David’s prayers as a guide or springboard for your own? Share your thoughts, stories, examples, and questions with us in the comments below, because we can all encourage, challenge, and inspire one another!

Logo image for Wholly Loved's Bible reading appBefore you leave, I have fun news! Wholly Loved Ministries’ Bible will soon have a 30-day Bible reading plan available on YouVersion! I’ll share the link when I have it. In the meantime, I encourage you to join our closed Facebook group. It’s a safe place where women can share their struggles, fears, doubts, and celebrations. to join, click the button below.

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I don’t like chaos, uncertainty, or when things don’t go according to plan–and I almost always have a plan, carefully outlined, day by day, hour by hour, in my day planner. The problem is, I can get so focused on the plan, on my agenda or even what I think God wants me to do, that I quick seeking Him. Linda’s post, below, was a gentle call to slow down, listen, and follow (which I can’t do if I’m running full-speed ahead!).

 Running Ahead of God?
by Linda Shenton Matchett

Crisis mode is never a good way to operate, but I have found myself there on more than one occasion.

I manage a boarding school’s dining hall, and meals tend to run smoothly. Until we lost electrical power. Chaos reigned. Fortunately, dinner had already been prepared or we would have had to serve PB&J. As the kids streamed in, we stumbled around looking for flashlights. (Of course, more than one contained dead batteries!)

Convinced the power would soon return, I waited before breaking out the paper plates and plastic forks. Dirty dishes, cups and silverware stacked up the dish room while the chefs figured out how to keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Our biggest concern was whether we would have enough to feed five hundred people. Though we got through the meal, the dining staff became frustrated and exhausted.

Fast forward to last week, when we lost power again. This time we had procedures in place that included having battery-powered lanterns and flashlights close at hand (with fresh and extra batteries!). Staff members had assignments, thus knowing exactly what was expected of them. The chefs had a standby “without power” menu. Although challenging, we served dinner with smiles in the soft glow of emergency lighting. Preparation and planning made all the difference.

God used both experiences to speak to me about preparation (and the lack thereof) in my life. He asked me how many times I’d done something Woman thinking while drinking coffeewithout preparation that resulted in disastrous outcomes. I became disappointed when things didn’t go as I wanted.

Perhaps if I’d planned ahead, and more specifically, prayed about the situation, the outcome would have been positive.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? But forethought is even better.

I’m a doer. As much as I enjoy being with people-lots of people-when it comes to a task, I prefer to work alone. I love the feeling of charging ahead to get the job done. Did you catch that? “Charging ahead.”

Though I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I often run ahead of God, turning to look behind to see if He’s keeping up. Fortunately, He is patient with me, and He reins me in with His soft, gentle voice. The Holy Spirit nudges me to seek the Father’s will before I start the task, project, or journey-to ask Him if it’s something I should be doing or should wait to begin. To consider whether He’d like others to be involved. He reminds me that listening to God is how one plans ahead.

What about you? Have you raced ahead of God lately? Do you need to rethink your modus operandi? Reach for God’s hand. He wants to be your partner.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

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Let’s talk about this! What resonated most with you as you read Linda’s post? Do you have a tendency to run ahead of God? What’s the result been? Have you ever had Him use chaos, like He did with Linda, to guide and teach you? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing; the next edition releases soon! Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat,free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up for my e-mailing HERE.

Get to know Linda:

Linda Matchett, headshotLinda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, blogger, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library. Active in her church, she serves as a choir member, usher, and treasurer. She lives in the central New Hampshire. Connect with her on at her website, on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest, and sign up for her newsletter HERE.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinios, 60188. All rights reserved.

Check out her latest release, Under FireCover image for Under Fire by Linda Matchett

Set in April 1942, Under Fire tells the story of Ruth Brown whose missing sister Jane is declared dead. Convinced her sister is still alive, Ruth follows clues from their small New Hampshire town to war-torn London trying to find her. Discovering that Jane has been murdered results in a faith crisis for Ruth, and she decides she must find Jane’s killer. In her pursuit, she stumbles on black marketers, resistance fighters, and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead