So Much for Good Intentions

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“There is no more powerful motivation for holiness than loving God in response to the revelation of his redeeming character and eternal promises.” Bryan Chapell, Christ Centered Preaching

How are you at keeping resolutions? I am the world’s worst. Mind you, I am full of good intentions. I will keep a cleaner and more organized home. I will lose weight. I will get serious about an exercise program. At the start, keeping a resolution is a breeze. Why did I live like I did before turning over this new leaf? Life is so much better this way! I will never go back. Sometimes I even try to convert others to my cause. How could they not follow in my steps? This way is infinitely better.

But it’s not long before I begin to wobble. This is too hard. I miss the convenience of doing things the old way. It wasn’t so bad before. And before long I have fallen back into my old ways once again.

Living for Jesus can fall along similar lines. We read or hear something that convicts us. So we resolve to act on that conviction. We will be more diligent about reading our Bible. Pray more. Get control of our tongue.

But soon the enthusiasm wanes. The high priorities of yesterday diminish in light of the new urgencies of today. And the resolution dies a quiet death.

Where can we find motivation that will last longer than our good intentions?

Guilt is usually my chief motivation, a powerful force in my life. I attempt to change something because I foolishly think that God will somehow love me more if I can get a handle on this thing in my life. This, of course, is a very faulty assumption. He knew every selfish act I would commit before I was even born. But He chose to love me anyway. My relationship with God is based on grace. So trying to earn love or acceptance from God really is flawed thinking.

In the end, anyway, guilt fails to produce a lasting result. As soon as I have worked long enough at change to ease my guilty conscience, the motivation is at an end. And I regress.

But what if, instead, I acted in response to the unconditional love and grace God has lavished on me? Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz, suggested that if an ordinarily lazy man were to fall in love, he could swim the English Channel for the sake of his beloved. Love is a huge motivator.

Our greatest incentive for change comes as a response to the grace and love the Father has already poured out on us. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…that those who live should no longer lives for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV). The greater our understanding of who God is and what He has done for us, the greater our motivation to love and serve him in return.

So rather than focus on my behavior and what I need to accomplish, I will choose to focus on the God that I serve. I will focus on His great love for me and on His perfect character. And my behaviors and attitudes, the ones which so desperately need to change, will suddenly be revealed for the dark, damaging habits they are, inappropriately existing in a life which has already been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.

The stronger my love for Him, the stronger my motivation. Less of me, more of Him.

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for he Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:7-8 NASB

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Finding motivation to fuel good intentions – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About 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. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

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Join the conversation: What have you resolved to do in the coming year?

What’s Your Excuse?

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“My dog ate my homework.” The well-worn classic grade school excuse.

This present student generation has a new take on that: “My computer crashed and it didn’t save my paper.” (I’ve heard that one a lot from teaching college students.)

Here are a couple of the excuses I hear when someone tries to explain why they didn’t return my call, my email, or my text in a timely manner.

“I’m up to my elbows in alligators.”  “It’s been a zoo around here.”

The latest, of course, is: “…because of COVID…” Though this virus is awfully real and serious—it has gotten on the list of excuses. We blame it sometimes for our idleness, our anxiety, or our anger.

Excuses showed up early in the history of mankind.

In the Garden of Eden, just three chapters into the Bible, man and woman sinned. It’s a good story and explains the Great Fall, but look at Adam and Eve’s response when God asks them to explain their behavior:

“The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate.’  Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:12-13 NASB emphasis mine) Accuse God, accuse the wife, accuse the Deceiver, and somehow it exonerates the sinner. Psychologists might call it transference. Simply put, it’s blaming someone else for our failures and our sins.

“Pass the buck.”  

This is a phrase that originated in the early American frontier when poker players put a marker (sometimes a buck-handled knife) in front of the dealer. If the marker was passed to a player who didn’t want to accept that responsibility of dealing, he’d pass it to the next player. Passing the buck.

Thirty-third American President Harry Truman, had a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here.” This meant that he would accept all responsibility for decisions he made and for those made under his administration. This is the whole point of this article—encouraging us all to take full responsibility for our actions, no matter who has hurt us or mislead us.

Only Jesus could take our past sins upon Himself and absolve us from them. However, we’ve got to admit to our weaknesses, short comings, or sins in order for that to happen. “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB).

Lucy was four years old when she raided the candy jar that her mother had so carefully hidden. When the mother found out that her daughter had done this, she asked Lucy to confess. When the child was hesitant to admit to the crime, the mom said, “Did someone else in this house eat all of the candy?” Lucy looked around, shrugged, and then sighed, “No, but right now I just wish I had a little brother.”

Homework-consuming dogs, alligators, serpents, or little brothers should not be used as excuses…. “For every person will have to bear… his own burden [of faults and shortcomings] for which he alone is responsible” (Galatians 6:5 AMP).

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ 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 retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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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: Are there other stories in the Bible showing our human tendency to blame others for our mistakes?

Cast Your Sin into the River of God’s Forgiveness

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 ESV

I’ve never forgotten meeting a woman (I’ll call Carrie) at a women’s retreat where I was speaking. I had shared at the Friday evening session how God delivered me from being a child abuser. During Saturday afternoon free time, I enjoyed visiting individually with many of the women. Carrie came into my room looking fearful. After this attractive thirty-something woman sat down, I asked what was on her heart.

“Kathy, when I heard you share about being a child abuser, I knew you were the one I could talk to.” Carrie looked down and her face turned pale.

I waited.

“You see, I’ve done something as bad as that, and I haven’t been able to tell anyone. But when I heard you, I figured you were the one.”

She glanced up at me quickly and then again averted her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, “I had an affair with my husband’s best friend.” After pausing, she rushed on. “My husband has forgiven me, but I cannot seem to really believe God can forgive me. I keep asking Him to forgive me. I tell Him over and over again that I’m sorry, but I never feel forgiven.”

I expressed my appreciation for Carrie’s willingness to be vulnerable, and we talked for a few minutes about forgiveness being a decision, not a feeling. Soon, it was as if a burden had been removed from her shoulders. She could look me straight in the eye, and she sat up taller. Confessing her sin to someone else seemed to relieve her of her pain.

We prayed together, and I took her through a process of asking God to forgive her and help her to receive God’s forgiveness. I sensed God was working an incredible healing in her heart.

When the next woman knocked at my door to indicate Carrie’s time had concluded, she gave me a quick hug, snatched up her Bible and cup of tea, and hurried out the door smiling. After the evening session, she thrust a piece of paper into my hand. “Thanks,” she whispered. Later in my room, I read what Carrie had written.

“Kathy, after speaking with you, I went down to the river to pray. I told God that for the last time I was going to ask for His forgiveness, and then let it go. Then I did a sort of ceremony. I took the cup of tea I was drinking and said, ‘Jesus, this tea represents my sin, and this river represents you.’ Then I threw the rest of my tea into the river. And you know what I noticed? The tea was immediately washed away. There wasn’t a trace of it anywhere. Isn’t Jesus wonderful?”

I was thrilled to read about Carrie’s new-found freedom from guilt.

If you are holding yourself captive because you cannot receive God’s forgiveness for some past sin, God wants you to know that you can drop your sin into the river of His forgiveness and grace. His love is sufficient, and He guarantees the stain will be washed away because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. He wants you to have confidence that nothing can prevent His forgiveness from applying to you.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share with others the many ways God shows His love for them. She is an internationally traveled speaker and an award-winning author of 58 books, including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. She and her high school sweetheart, Larry, have been married over 50 years and often write and speak together. They are parents of two, grandparents of two, and live in Boise, Idaho. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: Have you struggled to forgive yourself even when knowing God has forgiven you?

The Rule of Double Negatives

by Doris Hoover

Don’t use no double negatives. That was a saying we had in elementary school to emphasize a grammar rule. When two negatives are used in a sentence, they indicate the opposite—a positive. So, the actual meaning of the example sentence instructs us to use double negatives.

The same rule occurs in mathematics, but as many times as I tried to make sense of it, my math-impeded brain couldn’t understand the examples. But whether you understand things mathematically or with words, the rule is accurate.

Not surprisingly, God incorporates the rule of double negatives in the spiritual realm. He cancels out a negative with a negative to create a positive. The sin we commit is cancelled out by the sin Jesus bore on the cross, so we can become sinless. Logically, it defies common sense. Just as I have trouble understanding things in mathematical terms, God’s double negative rule makes no sense to a fleshly mind. It is spiritually discerned.

When in our flesh, and we are confronted with the guilt of our sin, we frantically search for spiritual hope. The day the Lord opened my eyes to see the immensity of my sin, boy, did I hold onto the rule of double negatives. I desperately needed my sin cancelled out. I needed the gift of Jesus bearing my sins on the cross to make me sinless before God.

That’s not the only time I needed the rule of double negatives. As a Christian, I continue to stumble into sinful actions, thoughts, attitudes and choices. They cause me to build up guilt.

Guilt is the enemy’s delight. With it, he torments us. But God reminds us in Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The One who cancels negatives with negatives makes a way for us. He gives us the guilt-freeing gift of confession. Even though we may act according to the ways of our flesh, we don’t have to carry the guilt of those actions. The sins we commit daily in our flesh have been cancelled by the gift of salvation; yet God gives us a way to clear them from our minds and release the guilt that torments us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

We can be certain that our blood in the flesh that brings us death was cancelled by the blood Jesus shed, so that through His blood we have eternal life. That’s a given. But God also provides a positive for those negative feelings of guilt. Jesus invites us to share our guilt with Him so He can deal with it and give us a clear conscience. Our negative actions which produce negative feelings of guilt are cancelled by the positive action of remembering we’re loved by the God of mercy, grace, and compassion.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-22 NIV

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

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Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

The Fear Not Factor

by Nan Allen

…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NIV

It was called Infantile Paralysis and though I don’t remember it, since I was only two years old, my sister and I actually had this virus—the virus we now know as polio. A few months after we had the virus, the vaccine became available and was distributed, subsequently eradicating the disease.

Even though my sister and I didn’t have any long-term effects, I’m aware that this virus not only killed but maimed millions of people, before it was finally eliminated by stopping the spread. I understand, too, that for many years before and after our illness, there was fear and panic and despair much like now with the present pandemic. Like COVID-19, this virus had a mind of its own. It could kill or not. It could make someone very ill or not. No one knew how a body would respond. But the epidemic hit our little southern town just as the vaccine was coming out.

I remember, later on, seeing pictures of people, children and adults, having to spend the rest of their lives in leg braces or a contraption called an “iron lung”—a casket-like device that moved paralyzed muscles that were required for breathing. Without it, the victim would suffocate. It was a horrible disease, and though I don’t remember much about my family’s bout with it, I know that the fear of it was very real.  (And the idea that it only affected children, infantile paralysis was no longer regarded as true. After all, President Franklin Roosevelt had it as an adult.)

We are born with a certain amount of fear. It is natural. Doctors say that humans have two inborn fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. In so many cases, fear is good. It helps us respond to danger. However, the kind of fear that we develop as we get older is born out of a feeling that we are out of control of the future. And we are. But that’s where this emotion becomes a problem. We are afraid of what we cannot see, touch, or hear. We don’t know what will happen, so we often don’t venture into that great unknown.

As believers, we add guilt to our fear. Fear is the absence of faith, right? And without faith, we cannot please God. Jesus spoke about fear to His disciples in the Upper Room. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ISV). However, right after this Jesus had a sense of fear Himself. “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me!” (Matthew 26:39, GNT). He knew what was ahead, and yet He still dreaded the pain of betrayal, of the whip, and of the nails that would be driven into His hands. He did not fear death, however. He knew that He would overcome that and, in doing so, overcome it for us, too.

Mr. Roosevelt said this in his first presidential inaugural address, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes…”

Fear can be paralyzing much like the poliomyelitis virus. It can keep us from walking, venturing out, and even breathing. The only way to banish this plague is to do what Jesus said in the garden just before His arrest and torture.  “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” An old adage says, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.”

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God… Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ 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 retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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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 do you fear?


How Do I Love My Enemy?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”                                                    Matthew 5:44 NIV

How do two porcupines hug? Very Carefully.  How do we love our enemies? With divine empowerment.

What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples to love their enemies? What does it look like to love your adversary?

We associate love with objects that make us feel good. When I say I love chocolate chip cookies, sunsets at the beach, and the gal I just met, I mean I enjoy the taste of cookies, the beauty of sunsets, and my new acquaintance’s personality.

To love our enemy, we need a stronger love than that. We need a love that can’t be stopped by the erratic behavior of its recipient. We must become conduits of Christ’s love.

What Does Love for My Enemy Look Like?

When God tells us to love our enemies, He isn’t asking us to manufacture warm feelings. God’s love is practical. It does what’s right. It seeks the eternal best for all involved.

Two concrete ways to show love are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44 NIV) and provide help when they experience trouble.

God told the Israelites to return their brother’s stray ox or donkey when they found it (Deuteronomy 22:1). If they found their enemy’s lost animal, they were to return it, too (Exodus 23:4). In other words, we do good for everyone.

What Loving My Enemy Is Not

Loving your enemies is not seeking a close relationship with them or tolerating evil. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you wouldn’t place your child or best friend in a situation, you should treat yourself with the same consideration. God calls us to be loving—and wise.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NIV).

Unsafe people put kind people in awkward positions. It’s uncomfortable to live guarded. But we must practice caution with those who manipulate, deceive, and back-stab. We don’t do anyone a favor when we protect wrong doers.

A young woman once told me she felt guilty because she told her principal about a young man who bullied her. “I should have been able to shrug it off. He got into trouble, and it’s my fault.” This woman had warned the man many times to stop. Yet she accepted the blame he put on her when he reaped the consequences of his wrongs.

The instruction to love our enemies does not mean to tolerate sin or abuse. Permitting sin is not good for us or them (Ephesians 5:11). Love and boundaries go together. Real love hates wrong.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NLT).

Where Do I Find the Power to Love My Enemy?

God is love. His Spirit produces love through us when we submit to Him (Galatians 5:22). As we obey the Romans 12:14 command to bless those who persecute us, power shifts from our enemy to us. They don’t control us; God does.

When Christ rules our hearts, we love, based not on who they are, but on who we are in Christ. Nobody can rock that.

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How Do I Love My Enemy? – practical insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How do you go about loving your enemy?

A New Song

by Doris Hoover

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”                                                                                                                                            John 8:11 NIV

Birds serenade from the treetops, singing joyful songs that make me smile. Each melody floats over me with happy notes. As I sit on the porch enjoying nature’s concert, I imagine God smiling also, delighting in His creation.

The birds cause me to wonder about my own melodies. What kind of music have I composed over the years? Have my life-songs brought a smile to God’s face?

The Lord definitely didn’t delight in many of my compositions—my music has often been filled with many discordant notes. Even so, He didn’t give up on me. He let me play out my song the way I chose to write it.

At one time, pure innocent notes flowed from my heart. But as sin crowded in, my life became totally out of tune. Then, when my song was nothing more than objectionable noise, I cried out with remorse. Jesus pulled me into Himself and kissed my head. He forgave my off-key choices and gave me a chance to rewrite my song. Then He promised that together we would create a beautiful duet.

Jesus gave me a chance to write a new song with my life.

Jesus gave that same chance to a woman one day in the temple. A mob of outraged men dragged her before Jesus and accused her of committing adultery. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (John 8:5 NIV). John tells us they were using the scorned woman as a way to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him of not upholding the Law.

As the crowd jeered, ready to throw stones, Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand. The men demanded He address the situation, so Jesus stood up and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 NIV). Then He stooped back down, giving the crowd time to think about their motives and reflect upon their own lives.

One by one, the accusers dropped their stones and left. Jesus looked up at the woman, not with disgust or condemnation, but with a question. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:9-11 NIV).

In other words, go write a new song with your life.

I know exactly how that woman felt because I, too, was drenched with grace and enveloped in the soft cotton of God’s mercy. Covered with the balm of forgiveness, my soul sang out the only words possible: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

When we stand before Jesus with all of our shame exposed, He wraps us with a clean white sheet. Gently, He lifts our chin with the crook of His finger. As we look into His eyes, we don’t see disgust; we see eyes overflowing with immeasurable love.

Jesus offers gives each of us a chance to compose a new song that resounds with notes of mercy and grace. He will help us to write a new life-song that will make God smile.

O Lord, we’re undeserving of your grace; yet we’re desperate for it. Help us change our discordant lives into beautiful melodies that float up to you.

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A New Song – encouragement from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What new song has God written on your heart?

Am I Doing Enough for God?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

A mother of three young children, who works part-time, recently told me: “I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for God.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that?

We live in a world focused on doing to the point of making busyness our badge of success. Multi-tasking in the church is what appears to others—and ourselves—as ultra-spiritual. But while a relationship with the Living God produces a desire to obey and serve Him, that service results in joy and rest, not perpetual stress!

I shared with that precious mom that her ministry was her husband and the three little lives she shaped and influenced on a daily basis. I also shared that God wanted a relationship, not a work record from her.

I believe God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. We can see that desire in Jesus’ response to a man who asked about the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus’ answer was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).

God is focused on relationship. We tend to be focused on activity. He is the One who tells us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) and to come to Him and rest (Matthew 11:28). We are the ones who are striving to do more.

Yet, as we spend time cultivating a love relationship with God, we will know how to serve others well. But it will never be at the expense of overlooking our primary responsibilities (our families and those God has placed in our care) or feeling over-extended.

If you are a mom with young children, or a woman who works full time, or someone who has her hands full (and who doesn’t these days?), rest in the truth that as you grow in your love for God, your labor will naturally follow. As you sit at His feet, He will eventually call you to get up and serve Him. And as you are growing in your love relationship with Him, you will learn how to discern the difference between His loving voice and the voice of your own guilt telling you to do more.

Lord, help me to remember that Your greatest requirement of me is to love You before anyone and anything else.

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Am I Doing Enough for God? insight 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 her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on Empty, When Women Long for Rest, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources Cindi McMenamin Long for Rest book cover (1)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.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with guilt about not doing enough for God?

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.

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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!

Guilted by the Shoulds

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

The dental hygienist fixed her accusing stare on me after a not-so-stellar appointment. “You should floss more,” she leveled. “What are you doing to clean your teeth daily besides brushing?”

“Um …” I groped for something. Anything. “I use the doggie biscuit technique; I chew on extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies.”

She was right. I really should floss more. But sometimes should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a woman’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.

  • I should go to that meeting; they really need my help.
  • I should cook a big dinner every night like my mother did.
  • I should clean my house so the kids won’t write notes in the dust.

Seems there’s always something more we should be doing.

But as every woman struggling to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, my friend, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.

So how do we shush that should guilt threatening to overwhelm us? Here are four suggestions that work for me:

Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down with a calming cup of your fave hot beverage. I’m talking five mere minutes here, not five hours. You can afford it. Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence … His heartbeat … His peace. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nevertheless known by women to be true). I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer – little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat. And speaking of burners …

Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day.

Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you really enjoy a minimum of twice a week. Walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing opera, join a roller derby team, boogie your bad self down, get your nails done – hey, whatever tingles your toes. Put the beautiful smile back on your face. Your fam will be ever so grateful.

Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Achk, I know. So many things we must do. A few things we want to do. And countless things we should do. We just have to recognize that we have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds … and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.Isaiah 41:10 NASB

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty. Used with permission from Barbour Publishing.

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Guilted by the Shoulds – tips for coping from @deboracoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out? How do you give yourself a break?