DONE

by Tammy Whitehurst

There comes a time when we are done. Done with crying. Done with anger. Done with bitterness. We are done. Flat out…..DONE.

We cannot afford to waste our days. Life is short. Spinning our wheels and waking up every day to a new day, but never in a new way must cease. Yes, the unthinkable happened. It was understandable to grieve. To cry. To weep and wail.

I have walked in those shoes and slid on the slippery slope of falling flat on my face. Finally, one day I gave the situation to God because I could not handle it anymore. My heart and flesh cried out for God to rescue me from the heartbreak and broken relationship.

The moment we surrender it all, He can take control and begin to work things out like we never imagined. We may never understand why something happened, but we can understand that we have a MESSiah for every single one of life’s messes, for every heartbreak, and every time we have felt like we were finished. He will cover us in peace when we seek His face.

Here is what I had to learn. Time flies and it does not return. Years pass and we never get them back. Enough precious time has been wasted. We cannot wait all of our lives for something that might never happen.

We can prevail over setbacks and emotional pain. We can move past the disbelief. The distress.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I do know this: God has a plan to bring you above water again. You will not drown when He is the rescuer. It might not be what you expected, but it can be more than you ever imagined.

Begin to notice the beauty of sunsets again, the sound of laughter, the chirping of birds, and the fragrance of a rose. Hold up the white flag of surrender and worship while you wait for God to unravel the tangled-up mess. Surrender all the pain and live life again.

It’s past time to seek the sunshine, plan the vacation, a day with friends, or a trip to the coffee shop. Open the doors once again and invite people for dinner. Don’t just seize those moments, squeeze those moments!

If we wait for the perfect time to begin living again, we might wait so long we run out of time. It is never too soon for a new beginning.

Battered and wounded troops—it’s way past time–let’s roll. Forward, march!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: As an author, blogger, and full time speaker, Tammy Whitehurst encourages and challenges audiences to live life kicked up a notch. She has been described as a hoot with a capital H! She has written articles for Lifeway magazines, Woman’s World, Mature Living, Christianity Today and many other publications. Her devotional, High Heels and Hallelujahs is a hit with women in a fast paced world. However, to those who know her best she is simply Davis’s wife, a former middle school teacher, and a proud mom to four grown kids. She struggles like the rest of us with dust, dog hair, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles. You can find her on youtube and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What do you need to surrender?

Why the Church Loves So Badly

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.                                                                                                                                               1 Peter 4:8 ESV

Once I did something badly until I achieved success.

In my forties, after several years of training, I earned my first-degree black belt. I was last in my class.

It never stopped surprising everyone, including me, that I’d managed this feat. I was driven, by my love for the martial artists in my Bible Study. Before karate, I’d only invested time in things at which I excelled. I was a good student, talented musician, promising writer. Clumsy with my feet, I never attempted athletic pursuits.

Initially, I thought God drafted me into karate so I could minister better to the women in my small group. But I came to see the value of pursuing a goal that seemed impossible, one where I trailed my classmates from day one to graduation.

Besides the honing of my humility, God showed me that He does, indeed, call His people to do some things badly.

He commands us out of our comfortable chairs and into pursuits that don’t present us in the best light, that remind us we have much to learn, require us to depend on others, and drive us to cry out to Him for strength and persistence when ours has been drained from us. There has never been a time when this was more needed in the church than now.

As the battle for souls intensifies, God is calling all hands, on deck. There are countless souls wandering the earth in darkness, blindly groping for the truth, wondering if they’ll ever find their way and feeling unloved by God, angry, hopeless, and alone. There are more people than your pastor can reach, or Billy Graham or KLove Radio. God never intended the furthering of His kingdom to be something accomplished solely by professionals, applauded by amateurs from their pews.

Building God’s kingdom is, in fact, a calling for oafs. It’s a task uniquely suited for the weak, meek, stumbling, fumbling, falling, appalling, imperfect, and unfinished: the inept lot of us that Christ called to Himself and adopted into His family.

God designed this work for us outlaws who have already pled guilty, received our sentence and our pardon, and now live free – with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, so we may, in return, boldly and sometimes badly love those who Jesus loves, in His name.

Ask hard questions. Have I slipped into that comfy space of only taking on what I know I can do in my own strength? Am I only loving people easy to love? Am I only communicating with people I understand or who understand me?

Do I function as if I believe God only ministers through me when I look strong, competent, intelligent, and secure? Am I passing on invitations from God to offer people a love that fumbles around searching for the open door because I don’t want people to think I’m inept or lacking?

God calls His imperfect church, to love others, falteringly, fallibly, but faithfully. Initially, we will love badly, but this can be overcome with persistence, practice, the Holy Spirit’s coaching, and reliance on God.

Why does the church love so badly? Because we’re attempting the impossible in a world where most love grows cold. Because we’re trying to love the way God loves. Because we have an enemy putting obstacles in our path at every turn.

The amazing thing isn’t how badly we love – it’s that many of us keep trying. And that He uses our faltering attempts at love to reach hearts for Him.

Let’s get out there today (and the day after) and love others badly, serve others poorly, and worship like oafs until, by God’s grace, we fumble our way into loving like Christ.

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Why the Church Loves So Badly – insight and encouragement from @LoriSRoeleld 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: When has God used your fumbling attempts to reach others for Him?

 

 

Wise Beyond Our Years

by Nan Corbitt Allen

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.                  Proverbs 2:6 NIV

At the end of almost every school year my sons would bring home a sack full of miscellaneous work created throughout the year. I don’t know why the teachers sent these treasures home on the last day instead of during the year, but most of the time they did.

The end of the year that our youngest finished 5th grade, he brought home the usual paper bag containing drawings and papers that he’d done in the past nine months. I took each one out and marveled at my boy’s achievements. He’s smart. He’s creative. He’s a good boy.

Down at the bottom of the sack was a little booklet with a yellow cover and a hand-drawn title.

 5th Grade Words of Wisdom.

Okay. Before I trashed it with the myriad of other papers, I sat for a moment and read a few of the entries. I was expecting things like historical facts, or geographical discoveries, or even new vocabulary words that the kids had discovered. I was wrong. It seemed as though the teacher had asked her students for insights rather than facts and figures.

I saved the book and tossed much of the rest. Recently, I rediscovered that booklet while cleaning out a filing cabinet. Here are a few words of wisdom I gleaned:

“I’ve learned that whenever we have to line up tallest to shortest, I’ll always be last.” I can relate.

  •  “I learned that the older you get the more clothes you get for Christmas.”
  • “I learned that cats don’t always land on all fours.” You’ve gotta try that to discover this!
  • “I learned to never roller blade backwards down a hill.” Again, experience tends to teach.
  • “I learned that if you stick a fork in a light socket you will get a new hairdo.”
  • “I learned that the more you mess with your hair the worse it looks”. Not a truer word…
  • “I learned that short jackets only keep you warm from your waist to your neck.”

There were others that were funny or clever or just down right profound. Like these:

  • “God will answer prayer when He thinks it is time.” How can a 5th grader know that unless he’s been speaking to the Almighty about something he needs?
  • “You don’t always get what you want, but you need to be thankful for what you have.”
  • “If you look a person in the eyes while you’re talking to them, they will trust you better”
  • “God is always watching.”

The dictionary says that wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. It presumes that experience and knowledge will lead to good judgment. It’s a choice, I guess, to allow failures to teach us, disappointments to mold us, and successes to humble us.

But we should never let any one of our negative experiences define us.

Author William Arthur Ward put it this way: “We can choose to throw stones, to stumble on them, to climb over them, or to build with them.”

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” James 1:5 (NKJV).

Whenever I feel guilty asking God over and over what to do in certain situations, I remember that verse. I realize that God wants me to ask Him. Perhaps He even smiles when I ask, because He knows I trust His judgment and will follow His leading.

Not a moment is wasted when we look to Him to teach us through it. He can use both our positive and negative experiences to grow and mature us. In His wisdom, we can become wise.

TWEETABLE
Wise Beyond Our Years – encouragement from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What is one piece of wisdom that you have gotten through experience?

God of Second Chances

by Julie Coleman @JulieZColeman

“…Where sin increased, grace increased all the more… Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 5:20, 8:1, NIV

He was a golden boy, loved in part for his sincere heart for Jesus. After seminary, he took a position as pastor of a small church. It was a good life. But then one day, he fell. During a counseling session with a church member, in the heat of the moment, he committed adultery. He was immediately ashamed. After confessing, he was asked to step down from his position, to take time to heal and devote attention to his devastated family.

We wondered: how do you come back from that? Were his days of ministry over? Had his failure disqualified him for good?

Of all the accounts of failure in the Bible, the night of Peter’s denial rates right up there at the top. Three times he denied knowing Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. It was too dangerous to be linked to the man being tried for blasphemy. Peter simply lacked the courage to let his relationship be known.

We can relate to Peter’s shortcoming, can’t we?  Who of us hasn’t had a big fail in one time or another? A moment in which we did the wrong thing and continue to regret, even years later?

Up until his big fail, Peter was slated to be a leader in the Kingdom of God. Jesus had affirmed this on several occasions. But now? I’m sure Peter had his doubts. In fact, the next time we see Peter, he has gone back to fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Did he think that in his failure, he had forfeited any chance of the leadership for which Jesus had groomed him?

We can’t be sure, but the indications are there that he did. As the fishermen rowed toward the shore, they realized Jesus was there. John tells us Peter jumped into the water. But rather than eagerly swim to shore, I believe Peter jumped into the water on the other side of the boat.[1] And busied himself with the net and fish.

He was avoiding the moment he would have to look Jesus in the eye.

Jesus told them to bring some of the catch to the fire. John tells us Peter came up out of the water with the fish. Until that moment, he’d avoided stepping up onto the beach. He was dreading his moment of truth.

After breakfast, Jesus took Peter aside. And he asked him: “Do you love me?”

Three times he asked Peter that question. Three chances to set the record straight. But what about Peter’s denial? If I were Jesus, I would have sat him down for a little talk. What did he learn from his mistake? What would he do next time?

But Jesus didn’t do that. He just reconfirmed Peter’s Kingdom assignment: Feed my lambs.

Many commentators are hard on Peter. They feel his story is told as a stern warning. After all, Jesus had said early on that if someone denied Him, He would deny them.

Is that why his story is featured in all four gospels? I don’t think so. I think that hearing of  Peter’s failure would have been a huge encouragement to first century readers. They were facing terrible persecution. If God could forgive Peter and use him in leadership, then there was hope for them. Hope even if they caved and denied Jesus under the threat of the sword. God’s forgiveness was not based on how well they stood the test. It was based on grace alone.

God is a God of second chances. No matter what we have done, even if we do it over and over again, His grace is greater. There is nothing we can do to make us love Him more. And there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. We can’t disqualify ourselves. We never did anything to earn God’s favor in the first place. He loved us when we were in total rebellion. He died for us while we were His enemies.

My pastor friend? He now works in a prison ministry, encouraging the inmates with the story of his failure and God’s redemption.

Do you need a second chance? Are there things in your past that seem unforgivable? God’s abundant grace covers that sin. Jesus nailed it to the cross. Put the guilt into God’s capable hands and let it go. We cannot out-sin His grace.

[1] The NIV says the boat “followed” Peter into shore. But the Greek verb is literally “came,” not followed.

TWEETABLE
God of Second Chances – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (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 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: What story of redemption has God given you to share?

Mistakes and All

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  Psalm 18:30, NIV

This morning I blew it.

I was selfishly thinking of my needs and not anyone else’s. And thus, my home became not such a nice place to be.

Why do I do that?

I can so relate to the who Apostle Paul who wrote “… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV).

I know we all feel like we’ve blown it at times — as moms, as wives, as daughters, as employees, as friends. We carry guilt on our shoulders in some area of life, feeling that we have failed to measure up to others’ standards – or our own.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve failed more times than I’d like to count. In fact, my books recount much more of my failures than my victories. That’s because we can learn through our mistakes. We can be shaped by our mistakes. And we can become more humble and extend more grace toward others when we are able to recognize the areas in which we have needed God’s grace, wisdom, and correction.

When I begin to feel I am not measuring up to the standards of others, I remember my God who is perfect and makes no mistakes (Psalm 18:30).  That means He doesn’t regret making me or putting me where He has. That means my mistake didn’t take Him by surprise. And that means He can still use me for His purposes, mistakes and all.

In spite of my mistakes, I’m encouraged by God’s promise in James 1:5 (NIV): If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

God gives generously (He’s not stingy in doling out the wisdom), He gives to all (even if  I don’t feel I deserve it), and He gives without criticizing or finding fault (meaning He won’t say “Uh no, I gave it to you before and you didn’t use it”).

The next time I feel that I’ve blown it, I’ll take it to the Generous One who knows all about it and is waiting for me to seek His comfort, His ear, and His wisdom.

Thank You, God, that You know all about my fears and failures. And You are waiting to pick me back up, make me stronger, and show me all that You can still do in and through my life.

TWEETABLE
Mistakes and All – insight on #FollowingGod from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurtsexplores the kinds of hurt women experience and offers gracious, biblical counsel on how and where to find healing. Cindi replaces the faulty thinking that often accompanies life’s wounds with truths every woman needs to know about how God views her.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when you learned a lot from a mistake? Please share!

My Imperfections and God’s Power

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

How could a task-oriented, detail-driven girl like me be so careless? I thought.

Mistakes happen. I knew this in my heart, but it was not just one mistake. It was two, and the errors caused problems for my entire team. I can usually maintain a lighthearted attitude about making mistakes, but not that day. Instead of laughing at myself, I questioned my abilities. Frustration grew as my thoughts centered around my flaws.

Making mistakes can make me feel inadequate. Defeated. Unable to get the job done.

The truth is, sometimes I get caught up in my own expertise, and I run ahead full speed. Tackling one task with ease gives me the confidence to take on another, then another, then another. Before I know it, I’ve run into a wall because I didn’t slow down long enough to place my confidence where it belongs.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV).

In verse 9, Paul explains to the church at Corinth how God responded to him when he asked God to take away a “thorn in his flesh.” Paul knew the purpose of that thorn, or weakness. Verse 7 says, “… in order to keep me from becoming conceited.”

God allowed Paul to carry the weakness to keep his dependence in the right place. Paul accepted his weakness with gladness, knowing full well that he needed it. I’m inspired by how Paul acknowledged his own vulnerability. He wanted to remain humble, keeping the focus of his life and ministry on Christ.

God provided grace for Paul, and He does the same for us. Even when our mistakes reveal our weaknesses. Messing up shouldn’t cause us to question our abilities. It simply provides a pause for us to check our dependence. Have we become reliant on ourselves rather than our Savior? Do we put pressure on ourselves to never make a mistake? God cares enough about us to expose our weaknesses, so He can shine through our lives and teach us how to place our trust in Him.

Mistakes happen, because we are imperfect. But through those imperfections, God’s power is revealed. Like Paul, let’s embrace our weaknesses, knowing we can rely on God’s strength instead of our own.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Hebrews 4:15 ESV

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My imperfections and God’s power – @kristinebrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with readers and audiences in a relatable way. Her life experiences blend together to create an eclectic backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What are the weaknesses in you that have moved you back into a deeper dependence on God?