The Quiet Room

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Do you ever just need to get away from it all?

Whether it’s busyness, constant noise, people who are making demands on us, or you’re feeling the need to be still, it would be nice to slip away to a quiet place.

I remember doing just that.

I grew up in a small two-bedroom house for my parents, myself, my two brothers and a sister. Shortly before my youngest brother was born, we added onto our house. We literally tore the wall down in a closet and attached a long hallway that led to two large bedrooms, a utility room and office, and another bathroom. But the first door you came to in that long hallway was what we called “The Quiet Room.”

My mom insisted on having a little room built, no larger than a closet, as a “sanctuary” in the house. There was just enough room for a desk, chair, and lamp. It was where she wrote music, read her Bible, and prayed. It was the room (with a lock on the door) where anyone could go to shut out the world and pray. We didn’t use that room at all as kids. (Since when do children need to get away from it all and have some silence? That’s what they get for punishment, not a reward!)

But during the three months before I married, I moved back home and the little “Quiet Room” became my sanctuary. It was where I spent the first hour of my morning with God, pouring into His Word, pouring my heart out to Him in prayer, and just listening to Him in the quiet of the morning. I look back on those days now as precious times in the sanctuary of “The Quiet Room.”

How I long for a “Quiet Room” today!

God says our bodies are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). That means there’s a sanctuary – a “Quiet Room” – in our hearts where we can hide away with Him every day. I don’t have to be in a certain physical place to find Him, I only have to get quiet enough to hear His voice. I just have to enter the “Quiet Room” in my heart and meet there with God.

When Moses had been with God on the mountain for 40 days, his face shone brightly as he came off of that mountain and everyone knew he had been with God (Exodus 34:29-35). When I emerge from my “Quiet Room,” it is my prayer that everyone will know that I, too, have been with God.

 Lord, thank You for the way you call me to a quiet place to commune with You.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23:2 ESV

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The Quiet Room – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer, national speaker, and certified writing coach who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of several books including When Women Long for Rest, When You’re Running on Empty, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com. over-scheduled

What Readers are saying about Cindi’s book, Running on Empty: “Truly, there is not a woman out there who cannot relate to When You’re Running on Empty.” – Cheryl M. Anderson, Director of Women’s Ministry, Morrill Baptist Church, Morrill, ME

Join the conversation: Where do you go to be alone with God?

 

Disturbing the Peace

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.     Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Every single morning, he stood right outside my window at precisely 5:40 a.m. and crowed—loudly. Uganda, situated on the equator, where the sun always rises at 6:00 a.m., provides consistency for roosters. For the better part of my stay, at the first hint of daylight, this annoying bird sounded the alarm. The only break from this strutting rooster’s morning routine were the days we were away on mission.

After returning to the U.S., I almost missed him—but not really. I still got to hear him occasionally though, because my friend and host, Monique, planned our phone conversations to discuss ministry when it was late at night here, but early in Uganda, just about rooster crowing time.

On one of our conversations, something seemed off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized I hadn’t heard the rooster crowing in the background. Distracted, I just had to ask. “Monique, where is the rooster? I don’t hear him.”

She simply replied, “I don’t have a rooster.”

Confused, I laughed and said, “What do you mean? Of course, you do! He woke me up every morning like an alarm clock.” We went back and forth about it a few times, with her Insisting she didn’t have a rooster, until I finally pressed her, “What happened to him, Monique?”

And in her lovely East African accent, she replied simply, “He was disturbing me, so I ate him.”

Thinking back on that conversation, I can’t help but chuckle at my friend’s solution to an annoying problem. But it also makes me think about how we deal with our own crowing roosters—and I’m not talking about the feathered variety.

Most of us have at least one person strutting around disturbing our peace. We might not serve them up on our dinner table like Monique, but we can be just as biting in our responses. In the blink of an eye, we can verbally chew someone up, spit them out and then find a way to justify it by pointing to their incessant crowing.

But God has a better way for us to deal our roosters, especially if we want to live a life that glorifies our God. It’s found in the Bible: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).

This sounds like an easy answer—“Just be kind”. But when you have someone crowing in your ear, it’s a lot easier said than done.

The verse just before the one I quoted says: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” God knows it’s hard, but when we hold anger, bitterness and malice in our hearts, especially after we have been forgiven of similar things (and even worse), it grieves the Holy Spirit.

Today, when your peace is disturbed by that crowing rooster, instead of serving him/her up for dinner, take a moment, remind yourself of the price that was paid for you. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead, look for a way to respond with kindness and forgive.

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Disturbing the Peace – insight from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How do you cope when you are angry?

Bitterness: The Heart’s Poison

by Jennifer Lane

 “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground.”  Hosea 10:12 NIV

A trip to the jungles of Peru a few years ago broadened my perspective of God’s creation in unexpected ways. Leaving civilization behind, I entered into the majestic unknown of the jungle and all its beauty and power. The beauty all around me was not just something for the eye to behold, it was an experience that engaged all five of my senses simultaneously. Gazing upon the exotic birds, animals, and vegetation, I was struck anew as I thought about God as the Creator: how He took delight and care in designing every detail of the flora and fauna. How much more must He have delighted in creating me and you!

I also gained new awareness of God’s power as Creator. The towering trees, vast foliage, and cacophony of creature sounds quickly engulfed me, making it very clear who was in charge here (and it wasn’t me). I was completely reliant on my guide to discern for me where it was safe to step, which deadly creatures to avoid, and which plants were poisonous.

I learned quickly that I could not spot potential dangers just based on appearance. Many of the “dangerous” species were beautiful to behold. One such creature is the poison dart frog. Though only 2 inches in size, this brightly adorned frog is an eye-catching beauty, yet some of these frogs carry enough deadly poison to kill ten men.

It struck me that this was also true for mankind. External beauty is no reflection of what lies within. I’m sure we can all think of someone in our lives whose beauty may be striking but their words are like poisonous venom. This is a reflection of our inner selves. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Allowing bitterness to grow in our hearts will transform us from the inside out.

How do we prevent bitterness from growing?

Take an inventory. “Get rid of all bitterness…be kind and compassionate…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV). Ask God to reveal any bitterness that may exist in your heart. Ask for His forgiveness and help to root out what is eating away at your soul.

Take preventative measures. “See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV). Once bitterness has been removed, see to it that it does not take root again. That may involve putting safeguards in place. Just like we put a fence around our garden to keep unwanted predators out, what things can you put in place to guard your heart from the enemy?

Sow new seeds.  Our lives must be “rooted and built up in Him” (Colossians 2:6-7). Once sinful roots have been removed and a sturdy fence is in place, it’s time to sow seeds of righteousness. Ask God to help you replace that bitterness with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. These new seeds help ensure that our root structure is firmly established and built up in the things of God, not the things of this world.

Then when the heat of the next trial comes, your leaves will always be green (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV), because your roots run deep into the streams of life.

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Bitterness: The Heart’s Poison – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: How has bitterness affected you in the past?

 

Bold as a Lion or Squeaky as a Mouse?

by Christina Rose

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever! At the very moment, they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.                                                                        2 Chronicles 20:21-22 NLT

The people of Judah felt overwhelmed by the three enormous armies that were about to destroy them. They must have felt like terrified squeaky little mice who were about to be devoured by big, bold lions.  Knowing how hopeless their circumstances were, they called on God to rescue them.  The day before battle, King Jehoshaphat bowed with his face toward the ground and all the people of Judah bowed down to worship the Lord with him.

Early the next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to march while boldly praising the Lord as if the battle had already been won. As they marched in front of their army, loudly praising God,  He threw their enemies into confusion, who then turned on themselves, slaughtering one another.  Not only were their enemies defeated,  the people of Judah spent three days collecting the spoils of war that had been abandoned.

Paul and Silas were arrested by officials who severely beat them then placed them in an inner dungeon with their feet clamped into stocks. It is likely their injuries were serious. They had no idea if they would survive this imprisonment.

Rather than hopelessly whimpering or feeling like terrified little mice, they chose to trust God.

Throughout the night they sang bold hymns of praise while the other prisoners listened. Around midnight, a massive earthquake leveled the prison. Every door swung open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off. It was a glorious display of Gods magnificent power to set everyone free.

When my daughters were young, we would load up the little red wagon with a picnic and spend the day at the zoo. As feeding time approached, the bellowing, bone-chilling, thunderous roars of lions resounded throughout the zoo. Despite their being behind bars, we never got too close to the lions. We hung back, wondering if they could be strong enough to break through those cages and pounce on my little girls for a quick and tasty meal. While their majestic presence and intense stares were impressive, it was their bellowing, resounding roars that inspired the greatest awe and fear.

If the people of Judah were scared, squeaky little mice when they went into battle, they would have been squashed immediately. But God responded to their bold and mighty lion-like roars and protected them.

If  Paul and Silas had been whimpering in jail like terrified little mice they most likely would have ended up dying there. Instead, God honored their trust by shaking the earth, breaking their chains, and setting them free.

Sometimes the squeaky little mouse in me threatens to overtake me. I can feel myself shrinking in fear. But then my big, bold lion leaps to the forefront, reminding me of whose I am. We were born to be mighty warriors and to roar to the world that nothing is impossible when we call on our God with songs of worship and praise.

And when we do, He may well conquer our battles for us before they have even begun.

But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:17 NLT

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Bold as a Lion or Squeaky as a Mouse? – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What do you need to trust Him for today?

 

Love in the Age of Suppression

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.                                                                                                                                                   Matthew 24:12 ESV

If you’re looking to the Bible for morality stories, it will leave you frustrated.

Oh, it’s loaded with stories and occasionally there’s a person in that story making a right choice, but three stories later, that same person may be choosing the wrong way. In fact, in many biblical stories, everyone is wrong.

That’s because the Bible is a book of truth, not fables written to teach children to stay out of the woods.

God’s not into heroes. Our faith isn’t built on the notion that there’s a group of us capable of living properly if we just have the right role models, education, and information. It’s not designed to promote a fear-based morality, or a moral-of-the-story method of soul-control.

The Bible is a mirror into the human soul, designed to reveal the truth of our glorious design, the truth of our fallen nature, and the truth of God’s loving, redemptive plan. It’s frustrating if you’re hoping for a “nice read.” There are down-right ugly stories told within its pages.

Which makes it the perfect book for our times.

We live in the age of suppression. The times when lawlessness is so rampant, we’re tempted to let our love grow cold.

Romans 1 explains that when people choose to live exactly the way they feel like living, regardless of how that lines up with the plan of their Creator, their actions suppress truth. When truth is suppressed, deception seeps in over the transom like a toxic gas. Lies create a climate hostile to love. And love cannot be divorced from truth or it has no spine. Hence, the danger of our times.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that among humans, there is no one righteous, no, not one, and the only way of salvation is through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is life for all who believe it.

The gospel doesn’t make us heroes or good guys or moral kings—it makes us recipients of grace, living by faith in Jesus, until He returns. Our salvation doesn’t rely on right living but on the person of Jesus, and only Jesus.

Which brings me to love in the age of suppression.

Jesus continues to call His followers to love, even when truth is suppressed, and deception is the visible king. How can we be expected to rise to this calling? Isn’t it impossible to love when everyone is doing whatever they want?

It is. Without Jesus, that is. Don’t try it without Him. That’s like wandering onto a battlefield without armor.

If we attempt to love with our own resources, they’ll deplete in a heartbeat. We’ll wind up dead on the doorstep of false religion, cut into pieces, a signal to other fools that they should send their own hearts into a deep freeze.

Instead, we must follow the way of Jesus. Lay our lives at the cross. Immerse ourselves in His story—His truth. Through His power, empty our minds of hatred and fear. Open our hearts to His Holy Spirit who will love others through us with a love that can withstand the times.

There’s nothing easy about loving in the age of suppression. Wounds are a near certainty, but we can resist growing cold because we were designed and equipped for such a time as this.

In times of immorality and deception, truth must marry love and give birth to life. That’s Jesus. Even when other hearts grow cold, He will warm ours with His own blood, poured out for us, and we’ll find courage to love even against the icy, prevailing wind of the age.

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Love in the Age of Suppression – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have  you been wounded while trying to love?

His Love

by Fran Caffey Sandin

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.                                                                                                                                                    Psalm 33: 22 NIV

Weary from staying two weeks in the hospital with Steve, my sick son, I craved a big glass of iced tea with lemon. The cafeteria food was served in a covered plastic container, convenient for take outs. I made my selection and poured tea from the cannister, but no lemons were available.

After finding a quiet place to sit, I opened the plastic lid, and there to my great surprise was a large slice of lemon! Tears filled my eyes as I realized that lemon was added, not appropriate for the entrée I ordered. It seemed such a trivial thing, maybe even a mistake by the server, but to me God was saying, “I love you.” With gratitude I bowed my head and thanked my Heavenly Father that He loved me, He knew where I was, what I wanted, and He cared. Years later I still remember the emotions of that day.

My daughter, Angie, had a similar experience when she came to the hospital the same week and realized she needed to spend the night with her brother, Steve. Normally she would be at home preparing the evening meal for her husband and three children, and she wondered, what should I do?

Within seconds, before she could even make a plan, her neighbor sent a text: “Angie, don’t worry, I am taking dinner to your family tonight.” God loved Angie by providing for her loved ones while she was away. Sometimes we are responding to God’s promptings in helping others, and at times we are the ones being helped.

My husband and I felt God’s love in our early years when we had placed some money in an investment account recommended by a reputable source. One day the Holy Spirit strongly urged my husband to transfer our funds to a different financial institution. He did. Later we learned that our money was the last transaction made by the company, before they declared bankruptcy.  God protected our modest savings.

The various ways God shows His love highlights His PRE-VISION and PRO-VISION. I am always encouraged to read verses that speak of God’s love. Here are a few: 

God is love (I John 4: 8 ESV). This is God’s character. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136: 1 ESV). God’s character never changes.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139: 1,2 ESV).  God knows all about us from before birth.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. He will always forgive.

Dear Father, thank you that You are God with us, and we can enjoy a personal relationship with You. What a blessing that while we were sinners, you came to earth to pay the penalty for our sin and guilt. It is more than we can comprehend, but You have shown true love. Help us recognize both large and small ways you demonstrate your love to us every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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His Love – encouragement and insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Fran SandinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What aspect of God’s love means the most to you?

 

 

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

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Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

Valentine’s Love with a Twist

by Natalie Ford @tearstojoy

Each year I hear people bemoaning Valentine’s Day (aka Single Awareness Day). Some feel gypped because they don’t have anyone special with whom to celebrate. Others are grieving the loss of their Valentine, either through death or a break up. The sad truth is that for millions of people, Valentine’s Day is a day of great sadness and disappointment.

My question is, “Why?” How did we get to a place where it is not only culturally acceptable but culturally expected to elevate romantic love to a status above all other forms of love? Our current culture teaches that romantic love is to be sought after above all else.

Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).

The greatest love is not romantic love but God’s love. When we love God with heart, soul, and mind, we can’t help but love those around us. It is the overflow of his great love in us. Jesus said that all of the other rules of the Bible are secondary to loving God and loving others.

What if instead of focusing on our romantic status on Valentine’s Day, we looked for practical ways to show love to others. A widow recently shared with a group of students how tough Valentine’s Day is for her because her husband always spoiled her…my heart hurt at her declaration. To my surprise, not one, not two, but the entire class of students were moved to action. They sought out practical ways to express love to this precious woman on Valentine’s Day.

Can you imagine the difference we could make if we were intentional about blessing others on Valentine’s Day? Who could you bless this February? Is there someone who would be thrilled if you were to visit and sit on the porch, sip sweet tea, and just spend time together? What about the child who feels like no one understands or gets them—what if you gave them a special Valentine’s card to tell them they are special?

I’m not suggesting couples neglect each other, but I am suggesting that instead of being self-focused, we become other-aware. Will you make a commitment today to be a blessing to some unsuspecting person on Valentine’s Day?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.                                                                                                                                  1 John 4:10-11 NASB

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Valentine’s Love with a Twist – encouragement from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: What are some ways can you demonstrate love to others this week?

You Don’t Have to Hide Anymore

by Monica Schmelter @monicaschmelter

I’ve spent a lot of my life in hiding. I try to mask my insecurities, faults and shortcomings. Quite honestly, it’s grown to be a heavy load.

Can you relate?

I find I hide because I fear rejection or judgment. What makes you want to hide? Whatever the case hiding is nothing new. Adam and Eve hid because of sin. Gideon hid out of fear of the enemy.

One day, when my “if people really knew the truth about me” fears were overwhelming me, I happened on these Scriptures in the book of Colossians.

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15 NLT).

Jesus willingly took our wrongs and wiped clean all records of them. He nailed them to the cross and utterly obliterated them. By doing this, He disarmed and shamed the spiritual rulers and authorities with His victory on the cross.

Our enemy, Satan, and his army of fallen angels have been disarmed. They are deprived of power over us. The Cross is our safe place. The cross beckons us out of hiding into His love and into the Community of faith. With the cross as our safe place, we can enjoy an honest relationship with Jesus Christ – and with one another.

With the cross as our safe place we hear “You don’t have to hide anymore.” All those fears, like God can’t forgive me or what will people think dissipate at the cross.

I can almost hear some of you saying yes, I can accept the cross as my safe place, but the whole community of faith thing? That is another matter. I struggle with that as well. Take a look at the truths below for help in living in community and building healthy relationships.

Trust Christ Completely

He is the only One who will never let us down. When Christ is our anchor, our ship does not sink when people disappoint us.

Realign Your Expectations of People

When we lean into Christ fully our expectations of people are realigned. This means we are free to enjoy community in a brand-new way. No longer do we rely on people to fully meet our needs, affirm our value and strengthen our faith.

Develop Relationships Over Time

You can learn a lot by listening to what is said, as well as what is not said. It takes time to build rapport, confidence, and trust. It isn’t wise to trust and bear our deepest issues to everyone, but there are safe people in this world. Look for and be a safe, trustworthy person. None of us were meant to do life alone.

The next time you find yourself wanting to do life alone – or go into hiding for fear of judgment or rejection, take a moment to reflect on the Cross as your Safe Place – and remember You don’t have to Hide anymore.

TWEETABLE
You Don’t Have to Hide Anymore – encouragement from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Monica Schmelter is the host of CTN’s daily television show Bridges and also the General Manager of WHTN, Nashville TN. Bridges airs in over 50 Million Homes and also airs on ROKU. To learn more, go to monicaschmelter.com.

Got a junk drawer? Ever find yourself stuffing stray items in there without thinking? Monica’s book, Messy to Meaningful, will help you sift through and sort out the unnecessary spiritual things weighing you down. Stop holding on to so much junk that you can’t fit in the good things the Lord is calling you to. Monica and co-authors Rhonda and Kaley Rhea will take you through your junk drawer and make you laugh along the way. Find yourself some beautiful…free.

Join the conversation: Are you spending your life in hiding? What keeps you there?

 

 

 

The Answer is in  Your Cell Phone

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

In your distress you called and I rescued you. Psalm 81: 7

It happened again today, a friend, a leader, called to share that their marriage was over. My response was sadness and a little curiosity, so I asked, “You had our cell number, why didn’t you call for help?”

The answers we have received to that question over the years have included:

We thought we could handle it (so at some point you must have realized you couldn’t).

We didn’t want anyone to know how bad things were (but now the whole world knows of your divorce- that seems worse as far as PR problems go).

Only one of us wanted help (but one can often make a difference as it brings change to a relationship).

Our friendship with you is too important to us, so we didn’t want to spoil it by sharing our personal lives (by I thought being “real and authentic” was the definition of friendship).

We thought it might cost money (and a divorce is cheap? Counseling is a small investment, and often in a community free or nearly free help is available).

If you hit a rough patch, pull out your cell phone. Chances are you have at least ONE person with a strong marriage in your world  who would be willing to mentor you, a pastor who would be willing to shepherd you, a therapist willing to counsel you, or a family member willing to walk alongside you. 

Shame wants you to sweep issues under the rug. Shame isolates you from those who love and care. Shame inspires you to make up excuses. Don’t listen to the voice of shame. Desperation is a better voice. Be desperate to find the best, most quality, most experienced, or most caring help you can find. Be desperate like the woman with an “issue” that came to Jesus:

A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors  yet could not be healed by any,  approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe.  Instantly her bleeding stopped.

What were Christ’s words to her? Were they filled with condemnation? Anger? Frustration? No. He simply said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48, HCSB).

Show that kind of faith. If your marriage hits a rocky patch, pick up your cell phone and call someone. If you can’t locate someone in your world willing to help, then call a ministry you appreciate. They likely can help you find a clergy member or counselor in your area willing to answer your call for help.

Lord, give us the courage to desperately defend our marriage. Help us combat pride and call out when we need help. Give me the faith to reach out for help trusting you will send someone who cares. Amen.

TWEETABLE
The Answer is in  Your Cell Phone – encouragement from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the authorPam Farrel is the author of  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, as well as books to help couples in crisis: Love, Honor and Forgive and 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make. If you are a couple in Crisis, there is help at Marriage On the Rocks? Try Again blog.

Join the conversation: Have you ever reached out for help when your marriage was falling apart? If not, what stopped you?