Torn Between Two Fathers

by Ginny Dent Brant @ginnybrant

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34 NKJV

I grew up a card-carrying daddy’s girl who followed wherever her father went. For me that meant political rallies, the Capitol, and eventually the White House; my father served a Senator and three Presidents. He taught me how to dance, and we cut the rug to the same beat for many years.

That rug was pulled out from underneath me, when my father’s career caused me to move again. This devastating move motivated me to look beyond myself for answers to life’s disappointments. I got involved in Young Life, gave my life to Jesus, and began to grow in spiritual ways my parents did not understand. My father felt my dedication was misguided. He feared I might become a “gosh awful missionary” who lived in poverty.

Motivated by love, he blocked my path. He forbid me to attend a Bible College I felt God was leading me to. I was torn between my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. I wanted to please my father, but how should I deal with my spiritual promptings?

In the midst of my tears, my Heavenly Father brought Matthew 6:33 to comfort and guide me.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (NKJ).

I’d grown up in a life doused with worldly success. I’d never been at a crossroads where my faith in God and doing His will put me at odds with my own father. Yet this verse was instructing me not in man’s ways, but in God’s ways. His Kingdom and his desires must be first in my life—not my father’s worldly definition of success. This verse gave me the courage to step out in faith in obedience to God. It also gave me assurance that God would take care of “all these things”—in this case my concerns as I obeyed.

As I continued down the forbidden path and attended that Bible College, my dad continued to express his disapproving warning: “You’ll never be success in this world.” It was hard to say no to a man who advised presidents. It was devastating to realize my father and I were no longer dancing to the same beat.

My Heavenly Father was teaching me to dance to His  beat—a radically different definition of success. The dance with my Heavenly Father was so wonderful, I wanted my father to share in the joy and eternal significance I had found. Yet, we continued to twirl in different directions.

In desperation, I barraged the gates of Heaven for my dad. I endured subtle persecution. I sought the counsel of a wise professor. He advised me to keep praying, live my life as a witness and allow God to work in my dad’s life. I heeded his advice, prayed daily, and strived to let Dad see Jesus in me.

Looking back, I now realize God was working from the first moments I began to pray. One night, I left a plaque under his pillow that read, “The purpose of life is to serve God.” In 1978, my father surrendered his life to Christ. He gave up his political career to enter full-time ministry. The logo of his ministry came from that plaque. To get his training, my father entered the same Bible College he had forbidden me to attend!

When my father put God and His Kingdom first, He transformed my father from a political strategist to a Kingdom strategist—a man who would help the underground churches and the Romania come to freedom after Communism. My father became that missionary he’d once forbidden me to be.

My father and I were finally dancing to the same tune again. I was no longer torn between two fathers. We’d both learned the eternal significance of putting God and His kingdom first and dancing to His beat. It’s a lesson we struggle with daily. My heart continues to overflow with praise to God—even after my father’s passing to Heaven from Alzheimer’s disease. One day, we will dance again in eternity.

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Torn Between Two Fathers – encouragement for #FollowingGod from @GinnyBrant on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate,

and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, was written with an oncologist after her cancer journey. Learn more at www.ginnybrant.com.   

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a conflict in guidance between the Lord and someone you respected? What did you do?

Come Alongside

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
You would think it wouldn’t be so hard, remembering your wife’s birthday when it falls just two days before yours. But more often than not, in our early married years, Steve forgot. Many times. It became a thing for us. I was hurt, even angry, each time I ended up having to remind him half-way through the day that it was my birthday.
Finally, one year, I waited to see how long it would be before he finally remembered on his own. The day went by quietly, no gift, no well-wishes. And the next. Finally, on the morning of Steve’s birthday, the phone rang. From a nearby room, I heard him answer his mother’s happy birthday phone call.

“What? Today? Wait a minute…” he rushed over to the wall calendar. “Oh no! Oh no!”  He hung up the phone and cautiously entered the living room. “I’m so sorry,” he said, looking close to tears. At that moment, I knew that Steve’s forgetfulness was not because he didn’t care. He wanted to remember my birthday. But he couldn’t even remember his.

It was to be a great lesson for us in learning to respond to potentially divisive issues as one. We often share that story as we teach marriage classes to illustrate the importance of working together.

It is also an important concept that should guide us in operating as a church. Paul had some good advice for Timothy on dealing with differences. Timothy was a young guy whom Paul sent to pastor the Ephesus church. There were some bad teachings infiltrating the ranks. It was time to clean house.

Paul begins chapter five with these words: “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters…” (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NASB).

There are two ideas worth noting here. First, Paul is contrasting rebuke with appeal. The Greek word translated rebuke was a strong word. It literally meant to strike with blows. (Paul was using it figuratively here, pummeling with words rather than fists.) Interaction between believers should never be done in that kind of spirit. Instead, Paul urged Timothy to appeal. The original Greek is the word parakaleo, the verb form of the word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit (paraclete), which carries a sense of comforting and encouraging while guiding. Quite different than striking out, it is a coming alongside to help.

Second, Paul tells Timothy to think of his fellow believers as family: fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers. Your family remains your family, no matter what the issues. They are an extension of who you are. Their joy is yours, as well as their shame. So you do the right thing by them, even when it is not easy; this often necessitates sacrificial love.

Steve uses a clever two-part graphic in our premarital/marital classes. The first part pictures two people with a problem between them. The issue is divisive, driving the two apart. The second is the better option. Rather than the problem sitting between them, the two stand together and aim their energies at the problem as one.

I think this concept is exactly what Paul was communicating to Timothy. 

When correction is needed, it can be handled one of two ways. The first is to verbally chastise with a me-versus-you kind of mentality. The end result is insult and alienation, quite the opposite of what should be our intentions.  In the second option, we approach with humility and love. Rather than point an accusing finger, we come alongside and face the problem together. The presenting issue can now serve as an opportunity to develop unity within the family, rather than tear the church apart.

It’s how Steve and I solved the birthday thing. We decided on a strategy that would put us on the same team rather than adverse sides. About a week before the birthdays, I casually mention the coming dates. “What do you want to do for our birthdays this year?” I ask. We make plans together. Win-win. It works for us.

Jesus prayed that his church would be one, and that our unity would show Christ in us to the world (John 17:21). How we deal with problems matters. When we appeal rather than rebuke, come alongside rather than point the accusing finger, we are moving toward that end.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2 NASB

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Come Alongside – encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Has someone ever “come alongside” you?  Or–have you had an angry confrontation aimed at you? How did your situation work out? Do you think how we approach someone in conflict matters?

You’re Not Listening

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.                                                                                James 1:19 NLT

 

My daughter’s exaggerated sigh, followed with, “Never mind, you’re not listening,” left me knowing I had done it again. I actually thought I was hearing her. But I have a bad habit of listening only until I think I know what someone is saying, and then my ears shut off and my tongue takes over. Even while someone is still talking. I’ve done it to my daughter, my husband, and just about anyone with whom I’ve had a conversation.

I know it’s rude, and it makes whoever is talking to me feel like I don’t care about them. It communicates, “What you’re saying isn’t as important as what I have to say.” I really don’t feel that way, yet I am guilty of talking over people more often than I care to admit.

I’m working on it, but evidently not hard enough, because this morning, as I was reading my Bible, James 1:19 (NLT) hit me right between the eyes. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” It was as if the words, “quick to listen, slow to speak”, were lit up like flashing neon lights.

James goes on to talk about the importance of “hearing” God’s Word and then “doing” what it says. But that process cannot begin until we keep our mouths shut and listen.

If I could follow that one verse, it would be such a good thing. Both listening to God and to people require a closed mouth—no matter how important or urgent what we have to say might feel. So often, my quick words get me into trouble. I jump to conclusions and stir up anger. And then later, when I’m trying to clean up the mess I have created, I realize it all could have been avoided had I just kept my mouth shut and heard the rest of what they were trying to tell me.

Please tell me I’m not the only one guilty of this.

Jumping in with our two cents, before hearing someone out, not only devalues what they have to say, but they likely will also feel personally devalued. God’s Word is filled with instruction on how to walk out our faith by treating other people as more important than ourselves, and this is where it begins.

In Solomon’s collection of Proverbs, he teaches the advantages of listening carefully before speaking. If you are like me, and struggle with listening first, they might provide help and encouragement for you.

  • “He who has knowledge spares his words,
    and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27 NKJ).
  • “When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 BSB).
  • “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them” (Proverbs 29:20 NIV)

There is wisdom in remembering to hear before responding. It is a matter of simple respect. You will avoid creating a conflict by misunderstanding. There’s no faster way to make someone feel valued and loved than to listen to them.

TWEETABLE
You’re Not Listening – encouragement 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 make someone feel heard?

 

Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3 ESV

I have witnessed incredible courage in my times – bravery on the battlefield of childhood.

Times when adults stood around muttering that “someone should do something” until a child, full of love, tugged the sword out of their stone hearts and became king of love and reason.

An eight-year-old alone in a room of professionals, speaking up to say, “We’re not safe at home. Please don’t make us go back there.” Then, taking up her mother’s hand, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I love you, but you’re not protecting us.”

A ten-year-old boy who leapt to his feet in a living room crowded with adults and shouted, “Ha! Mom, I knew that was wrong, even though you said it was okay for me to ride in the trunk of the car. It is wrong, isn’t it?”

I nodded my head as I watched his mind make connections like a pinball machine the moment after the quarter drops. “And, I bet it’s not okay for me steal stuff for you! Mom, I think you believe you love me, but you’re doing it way wrong.”

Then, he turned to the relatives sitting in the room. “And you guys! How come you aren’t saying anything to her? I’m a kid. Grown-ups are supposed to watch out for kids.”

Or the thirteen-year-old girl who sat across a kitchen table and looked me square in the eye. “Why should I tell you anything about my hopes and dreams? You’re like the fifteenth old lady to sit in this kitchen and act like you know something that might help us. Why don’t you ask my dad his hopes and dreams? If you start working on that, we might actually get somewhere, but that’s a lot harder than sittin’ with a thirteen-year-old, isn’t it?”

Sometimes love is a hard conversation.

Don’t tell a kid in your ministry you love them in the name of Jesus, unless you’re willing to sit with their parents and talk when you suspect things aren’t right at home.

Don’t tell a young woman you love her, and then suggest she stay quiet when she says that a church leader made her feel uncomfortable with his words or his hands.

Don’t tell a young wife to go home, pray, and be a better wife, when she confides about her husband’s unexpected rages, drinking, pornography, or abusive words.

When your friend gossips in the guise of a prayer request, don’t just walk away and feel self-righteous that “at least you’re not like her.”

To be like Jesus is to love like a child.

A child sees no conflict between loving someone and telling them the truth.

A child sees no dissonance in loving a person and saying hard things to them.

A child knows that if someone doesn’t stand up to people doing wrong things, they’ll keep doing them.

A child knows how to love someone and still tell them they have to stop hurting other people.

Children learn from the people doing wrong to silence themselves, to hide, to cower, and to embrace helplessness. Jesus calls out the child in us to unlearn these ways for these are the ways of the sinful world.

Jesus demonstrated that sometimes love is a hard conversation. Just look at what He said to the Woman at the Well, the hypocritical Pharisees, or to Judas at the Last Supper.

Let love incite us to speak truth into our own lives and to choose love even when it would be easier to stay silent. This is the way of light. Sin, pain, and all manner of evil flourish in the darkness.

Our words can be light, against which, the darkness will not prevail.

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Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation – encouragement 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: Can you recall a time when a child fearlessly expressed the truth?

 

 

 

Four Steps to Being a Peacemaker

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.                 John 14:27 NASB

Have you ever been a part of a ministry or Bible study that, for whatever reason, went toxic? Though our inclination might be to walk away, God may be calling us to glorious assignment: that of speaking life, light, and health into darkness. I refer to this as mountaintop living.

Rather than allowing others to drag us into their dysfunction, we can help them rise to a Christ-inspired elevation.

Every believer is called to be a peacemaker, and this runs so much deeper than merely avoiding conflict. Biblical peace is God’s gift of wholeness as lives and hearts become aligned with truth.

Here are 4 steps to help you bring peace to dysfunctional situations.

  1. Center yourself in love.

Though we may convince ourselves otherwise, most often, conflict avoidance is rooted in self-love rather than love for others. We fear their negative reaction, retaliation, or rejection. But Jesus, who perfectly embodied love, routinely initiated tough conversations. He told the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning, the rich young ruler to sell all he possessed, and openly rebuked Peter for trying to persuade Him to avoid the cross. With each of these interactions, He was in essence saying, “I love you, and I’m willing to risk what you think of me to see you walk in truth.”

Remember, truth sets people free. May we, as God’s ambassadors, assume the role of liberators as well.

  1. Focus on growth not solutions.

When problems or disagreements arise, it’s easy to fixate on the difficulty, but Romans 8:28-29 tells us God uses all things, relational discord included, for our good and to transform us into the likeness of His Son. We need to align ourselves with God’s purposes, helping people toward maturity through healthy and Christ-centered interactions. When others grow frustrated, we can model patience grounded in our trust in God. When jealousy sparks harsh words or hurtful comments, we can lovingly direct the conversation to the cross. Modeling healthy conflict-resolution skills will benefit our churches for years to come, long after the current situation resolves.

  1. Ask Heart-probing Questions.

Most often, when individuals fight, the issue is more a symptom than the actual problem.  For example, when my husband and I were first married, I spent a lot of time nagging him about dirty socks left on the floor or food crumbs on the counter. When I finally evaluated my feelings, I realized it wasn’t the actual mess that vexed me: it took less than a minute to pick up the laundry or wipe the counter. What was really upsetting me was in feeling I was being taken for granted. Once I recognized that, we were better able to deal with the root of my emotions.

Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV). Lovingly and respectfully asking thoughtful questions can effectively uncover an underlying concern or fear. Honest questions also have a way of defusing anger or anxiety by assuring others they have a voice.

  1. Pray.

Through prayer, God may reveal that He already has a solution in place; He might call us to simply be still and wait on Him. Or, He may provide the perfect words for us to speak at the perfect time. Either way, He will guide us toward His very best for every situation.

No one enjoys conflict. But in every situation, we have an opportunity to demonstrate mountaintop living—to draw others into a place of wholeness. By bathing our efforts in love, focusing on truth, and seeking and following God’s guidance, we can be an instrument of peace to dark and dysfunctional scenarios.

TWEETABLE
Four Steps to Being a Peacemaker – thoughts from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Hometown HealingShe’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: Have you had an opportunity to be a peacemaker in a difficult situation? Please share!