Prayer: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly!

by Sandra Kay Chambers

I was recently deeply hurt by a long-time friend. In a particular situation, we saw things differently, and she refused to meet to talk about it. As the distance grew in our relationship, I experienced all kinds of emotions from sadness to anger to guilt. I tried to pray, but I couldn’t sort through my emotions to even put the words together. Finally, I cried out to God and let all my emotions—the good, the bad and the ugly—pour out as the tears flowed down my cheeks.

Have you ever not been able pray? Your heart was so heavy, the words just wouldn’t come? Maybe you weren’t sure God was even listening.

Sometimes prayer comes easily like the Lord’s Prayer we often pray in church or saying grace before a meal. We can quickly go through a list of requests for family members or friends or those who are in need.

But God also invites us to simply pour out our hearts, troubles, complaints and even doubts to God. Praying these kinds of prayers can be intimidating. While we know God sees everything about us, it’s hard to voice negative emotions. We’d rather hide them from ourselves than possibly offend God. We want our prayers to be strong, mature and full of faith. But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. Intimacy with Him requires honesty and humility.

The Bible gives plenty of examples of this kind of prayer. The best-known example is David, the author of many of the Psalms. He freely expressed what was in his heart to God. And God listened! He even called David a man after His own heart.

God is not disturbed when we pray our doubts, complaints, or heartaches.  Read through the Psalms and you will find a wide variety of emotions—from joy to fear to doubt to utter despair!

I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.  Psalm 142:2-3 NLT

I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Psalm 69:3 NIV

I am overwhelmed with troubles . . . You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Psalm 88:1,6 NIV

God is our Father, and He wants us to come to Him with everything. He wants us to come to Him with the complete trust as a little child would, believing that He will meet us where we are —in the good, bad and ugly of our lives.

Lord, you invite us to come to you with everything that affects our lives. Help us never to fear to be real in our prayers.

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

About the author: Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at https://BeADisciple.com based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life), available at Amazon athttps://a.co/iEkd8s0. You can follow Sandra on her author website at https://SandraKayChambers.com  and her prayer blog at https://PrayWaves.com.

Join the conversation: How would you characterize your prayer life?

Where’s Our Focus?

by Sherri Wynn

It’s hard to top all the lessons four-year-olds can teach adults. My grandson, Corbin, is a perfect example. His world revolves around his Matchbox cars. Hours of play time always include providing for his cars: building them roads, parking garages, drive-up windows, and of course, car washes. Lincoln Logs are his favorite building material, but he happily uses anything available to create intersections, entrance/exit ramps, and yes, more parking lots. That’s his focus.

One day, when his mom sat on the floor to play cars with him, she tried to add on to one of his overhead bridges. He smiled and told her what she was doing wouldn’t work. She smiled back, assured him it would, and a few steps later realized he was right.

I’ve often thought God intentionally uses children to teach us lessons because as adults, we can be a little too full of ourselves. We’re in charge, right? So why does God send us messages in Scripture telling us we need to be more like children?

In the book of Matthew, Jesus’ disciples asked him which of them was most important in God’s kingdom. As always, Jesus had the perfect answer. He pulled a small child from the crowd surrounding them and said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NASB).

I can imagine the shock on those disciples’ faces. “Hey, Jesus” they might have said. “We’re the chosen twelve, remember? You picked us to live and work with you. That’s just a child there, who has no idea what you’re teaching or how holy you are.” Of course, Jesus remembered exactly who was who that day. Most importantly, Jesus was again the patient teacher showing his disciples that what they were doing wouldn’t work, that a child understood humility better than any of them.

A child may not have adult-level knowledge, but that little one knows love when he or she sees it and responds accordingly. Maybe that’s why Jesus went on to say, “So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4 NASB).

I don’t know about you, but I fall into this trap way too often, the trap of thinking I’m so good I ought to be in front of the line for things. In God’s eyes, of course, I really am that special, because Jesus came to earth for the sole purpose of reconciling each one of us with God by removing our sin. God is holy, and we can’t come close to him without Jesus first switching our sins over to him so he can blanket us with his own holiness and forgiveness.

Being special enough to give your life for is a different kind of special. It doesn’t make me superior—far from it. It makes me grateful and humble and crazy in love with a God who would do all that for me. Jesus himself modeled humility for us: “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8 NIV); and “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29 NIV). If Jesus values humility, so should I. I need to keep my focus on Jesus rather than myself.

Jesus freely and humbly gives us the incomparable riches of his grace and mercy. And He often uses four-year-olds to smile and patiently explain that what we adults are doing won’t work.  

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 NASB

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

Not Just an Elder's Wife.png

About the author: Dr. Sherri Wynn is the founder and president of the International Christian Education Foundation, a nonprofit that provides custom curriculum to organizations and individuals. Her educational books can be found on Amazon. She also contributed two guest chapters to Not Just an Elder’s Wife through e2Ministries Inc. She is speaking at their summer conference in July.

Join the conversation: Have you ever learned from a child?

The Humblest Man Alive

by Julie Zine Coleman

“Now Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth…” Numbers 12:3

There it was, in black and white, posted on the high school music director’s door: my name at the top of Sound of Music‘s cast list. Maria: Julie Zine. I could hardly wait to get home and share the awesome news. Mom was thrilled. But when I told my dad, his response was less than enthusiastic. “How are you ever going to pull that off?” he moaned. 

I was crushed. It wasn’t like I hadn’t already held big parts in school plays. The choir director thought my voice good enough to handle several solo parts. Why didn’t Dad think I could do this? Later, I again approached him and demanded: Why didn’t he believe in me?

Dad smiled sheepishly. “I just want to keep you from getting a big head,” he confessed. “I want you to be humble.”

My dad was a good father, and I appreciated his concern for my character. Humility is important and most desirable. But I think my dad had the wrong idea of what humility truly is, at least from a biblical point of view. It’s not about thinking less of who we are.

We can get a better idea of humility from the leadership example of Moses. It wasn’t a position he sought after or even ever wanted. But God called Moses to lead his people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.

As he stood before the burning bush, Moses resisted God’s call. Who am I, asked he, to be the deliverer for the Hebrews? They won’t have anything to do with me! I have never been eloquent. I’m obviously not the man for the job. Pick someone else, God, please!

Didn’t any of that self-abasement and degradation qualify as humility? Apparently not. Humility is a good thing; God loves the humble. But Moses’ qualms about his qualifications did not please God one bit.

The job was as difficult as Moses had imagined and then some. When Pharaoh finally released the Hebrew slaves, the desert in which they traveled was a harsh, inhospitable environment. The people themselves were hard-hearted and stiff-necked, frequently complaining, ever-distrusting of God and His appointed leader. Eventually even his own family members spoke against him, demanding a bigger part of the leadership action. “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?” they questioned. “Has He not spoken through us as well?” (Numbers 12:2 NASB).

God immediately responded to their rebellion and pride with an angry rebuke. As the cloud of his glory dissipated, Moses’ sister Miriam found herself covered in leprosy. Most leaders at that point would likely have felt validated and somewhat satisfied to see a threat to their leadership and power being squelched by God in such dramatic fashion.

But Moses cried out to the Lord, “Oh God, heal her, I pray!”(Numbers 12:13 NASB).

Even when threatened by his family’s desire to take him down a peg, Moses’ concern was not for himself. It was for those he loved. Putting aside any self-interest or indignant response, Moses prayed for his sister’s restoration. And God called him the humblest man on the earth.

C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.”

Jesus Christ was our ultimate example in godly humility. He did not regard His equality with God something to tightly clutch, but instead forfeited power and privilege for servanthood. His service ultimately led to a terrible death on the cross. Christ’s humility was not about self-abasement. It was in a willing sacrifice, generously given in the interest of those he loved. (Philippians 2:5-8)

Somewhere along the way, we in the 21st century have gotten the idea that humility involves self-depreciation, a devaluing of ourselves, deciding that others are better than us. But you won’t find it defined that way in the Bible. Biblical humility is a choice to treat the needs and interests of those around us as more important than our own. It is a decision to go with God’s agenda and not ours. It’s really part of what it means to die to self.

And in the end, in looking past our own noses, we will find ourselves closer to God and ironically more fulfilled than ever before.  We will have gotten ourselves out of the way and become more and more yielded to the Spirit. And in return, God honors the humble.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. 1 Peter 5:6
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine 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 crafting. 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: What examples have you seen in people you know practicing biblical humility?

I Don’t Like Feeling Stupid

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I don’t like not knowing. I don’t like not having an answer or an opinion. Not knowing or not being able to reply makes me tense. And dare I say it? I feel stupid.

Even sillier, I will give an opinion even though I’m not sure I’m right—so that I can avoid saying, “I don’t know.” That’s pretty bad. My. My. I’m not like Zechariah.

In Zechariah 4, the prophet Zechariah has been shown a vision of a lamp stand and several other things. He asks what the items mean and the angel speaking with him replied : “Do you not know what these are?” And [Zechariah] said, ‘No, my lord.’”

If I had been Zechariah, I wouldn’t have asked what the things are because then I would reveal my … there’s that word again … stupidity. And then when the angel asked, “Do you not know what these are?” I would have bluffed my way into some sort of answer (said as if I’m Rocky Balboa), “Well, sure, I know what it is. Whatcha think I’m stupid, or somepin’?” Or since the angel woke him up, he could have defended himself saying, “Hey, I just woke up. Let me sit up first and think.”

So I’m admiring Zechariah. He has the humility to admit he doesn’t know, and he is willing to be instructed. I need to remember him as my inspiration. It’s OK to appear to be stupid, because it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What matters is God’s view of me, and he already knows when I don’t know. And he would much rather I admit my lack of knowledge and ask to be informed.

Because Zechariah was willing to say “I don’t know,” he heard God’s word of wisdom: “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’” (4:6).

God’s wisdom is encouragement for the disheartened Israelites as they face obstacles reconstructing the temple. Just as God is supplying mysterious oil for the lamps in the vision, God promises to supply the strength to finish God’s assignment.

You and I will be more receptive to understand God’s truth when we understand the tone of the angel. And since Zechariah calls the angel “Lord,” most commentators believe this is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. And knowing Jesus, we can safely say the question is not a reproof of Zechariah’s ignorance but an invitation to reflect on the message of the mystery of the vision.

When Zechariah admits his ignorance, God uses him as an encouragement for our growth in humility. If our motive is to protect ourselves from being seen as stupid, we won’t be able to humbly trust Jesus’s loving callings.

Whether the “assignment” is a far-reaching project or a moment-by-moment abiding requiring our humility, we can be assured God is an encouraging God who wants to enlighten and empower us.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller’s mission is to inspire Christians to see how trustworthy and reliable God is. This post is from her and her husband’s book God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. Kathy is the author of over 55 books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US states. She and her husband are parents, grandparents, and lay counselors. Visit her at: https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller

Kathy’s Her most recent book is study of the many characteristics of God: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. She is the author of over 55 books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US States. Reach her at: Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
or Pinterest/Kathyspeak. Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: To what degree do you avoid being seen as stupid—or some other identity?

The Spirit is Willing . . .

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“Then [Jesus] comes to the disciples and finds them sleeping; and He tells Peter, “So couldn’t you keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 TLV

I saw a post on Facebook months ago that still comes to mind and prickles my soul. The post posed the question, “Could you wash the feet of someone who hurt you?” As I thought about it, I tried to picture myself actually doing it — you know, getting on my creaky knees, staring up at them, trying not to remember the harm they did . . .

If the opportunity presented itself, I want to be able to do it as an act of service in Jesus’ name. I hope I would be able to do it without gritting my teeth—that I have truly forgiven them, and nothing tethers me to the past. Sigh.

Perhaps even though my spirit is willing, my flesh cringes at my weakness. Apparently, I am in good company. The disciples wanted to support Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but they had just eaten a huge feast—with several cups of wine—and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Jesus had, only a few hours earlier, washed their feet (John 13:4-16). What is significant about this act was that it happened during the Passover meal (John 13:4), which means prior to reclining for the celebration, everyone would have already washed their feet. It was customary to do so, especially since they were guests. So, Jesus performed this task for another reason.

I wonder on that night, with everything that Jesus knew would happen, how difficult it was to wash those feet. Betrayal—not only from Judas, but the other disciples. Was this humble act also a work of forgiveness?

Jesus looked up at those men who would soon fall asleep as He wept in sorrow and prayer. His friends would run in fear and hide. Peter would deny Him three times.

Jesus did it for them because He knew at some point, they would remember this act of humility, and it would both convict and comfort them. They would be grateful that during the culmination of the Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption, He thought of their wellbeing. And in their gratitude, they would emulate His humility.

So, maybe humility is about gratitude. Gratitude for all He has done for us, because we didn’t earn one tiny deed. Gratitude that even before we sin, He was already there to wash our feet.

As we approach the day marked for us to give thanks, prepare our favorite dishes, and coordinate all the details, gratitude can get lost. Our busyness can cause us to overlook those subtle opportunities to “wash the feet” of others.

Perhaps we can make time to deliver a plate of cookies to someone who lives alone, or bring in our neighbor’s trashcans, or offer to drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment.

What about those folks who have hurt us, and we have forgiven? Let’s pray today that should the occasion arise we will “wash the feet” of that person—that we would have the courage and gratitude to emulate our Savior in spite of what they may have done.

“And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40, TLV

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

TWEETABLE
The Spirit is Willing . . . – insight on #FollowingGod from TerriGMaven on AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a way to “wash someone’s feet” during this holiday season?

It’s Okay to Be Wrong

by A.C. Williams @free2Bfearless

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

Did you know that the Earth is flat?

I knew people believed it back in Columbus’s day, but it’s still a thing. People can believe what they want, of course, but when you encounter a Flat-Earther and attempt to prove them wrong, you’ll end up in a debate. No amount of evidence, facts, or shouting will change their minds.

It’s the same with almost every other belief or standard. Even if you can logically prove another person’s beliefs contradict the truth, many times they won’t accept it.

Why?

Well, do you like being wrong?

I don’t.

Nobody does. Being wrong means that we’ve built our lives on a lie. Or that we’ve defined ourselves by something that’s false. Being wrong can hurt others, wreck relationships, and separate friends. But being wrong is the only way we learn what’s right.

We’ve all been wrong at some point in our lives. Maybe we acted on principles that were later proved false. Maybe we treated someone badly because of lies we’d been told about them.

Want to know the truth? It’s okay to be wrong.

So why do we fear it?

Well, social media hasn’t helped us, transforming everyday bullying into an Olympic-level sport. Being wrong is terrifying. And I’m pretty cowardly, to be honest. I don’t like facing the chance that I could be wrong. I hate conflict, and I hate being wrong because somewhere in my soul, I need to always be right.

But I’m not, and neither are you, my friend. No matter what side of the religious or political line you’re standing on. No matter what you believe about the current state of our country and the world. Everyone has the capacity to be wrong, but the truth will always win. Can we just embrace that and give ourselves the space to be wrong so the truth can transform us?

Think about the Apostle Paul. He killed Christians, intent on wiping Christianity off the map, but after an encounter with Jesus, Paul became one of the greatest leaders of the faith. He was wrong. Jesus changed his mind, and Paul changed his direction. The truth transformed him. He wrote: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12-14 NASB).

What could you be wrong about today?

A person? A relationship? An action? Could you be wrong about what you believe? If you can’t be wrong, how do you know?

Let’s all leave room for the possibility that we could be wrong about what we believe. Don’t give in to the emotions that call us to lash out in fear. Instead, let’s reason through the issues. Let’s test the problem. Let the truth be known honestly, and let the truth transform you.

And you, Jesus-follower, be a safe place. You have access to strength and love that surpasses understanding. Use it and do what you can to live peacefully with the people you don’t agree with.

Everybody in the world has screwed something up. Let’s stop throwing stones at each other and start listening. We all have a lot to learn, but thanks to Jesus, there’s grace enough to cover it.

TWEETABLE
It’s Okay to Be Wrong – encouragement from A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williams

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author and entrepreneur who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks will never match. She prefers Trixie Belden to Finding FirefliesNancy Drew, wears her watch on the wrong wrist, and Mr. Darcy is her love language. Follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.

Join the conversation: Do you remember a time you were proven wrong? How did you respond?

What’s Your Favorite Recipe?

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8

Our noisy family was gathered around the table for Sunday dinner and everyone was complementing me on my meatloaf with tomato gravy. So, I had to admit that I’d never heard of tomato gravy until Lacey, my daughter-in-law, said it was a family favorite, and shared her recipe with me.

When the conversation shifted to Lacey’s great cooking, Michael, her six-year-old son, declared very loudly so everyone could hear, “My mama is the best cook in the whole world!” Impressed, everyone stopped talking and he continued, “She can make ANYTHING ‘cause she’s got recipe cards!” Michael loves to eat and that was no small compliment.

Kids are great, right? We love giving them good things. Well, we are God’s kids and he has some pretty tasty dishes to serve up for us as well. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Like Lacey, God has His own “recipe cards.” The Bible is filled with wonderful recipes.

 Just looking into this one psalm, Psalm 34, we find the necessary ingredients for deliverance from fear, for provision, for comfort and peace for a broken, contrite or remorseful heart. We even find the recipe for redemption. This psalm even tells us when we trust in God we won’t be condemned. And in order to taste these good things from God, we are provided with the necessary ingredients. A little of this and a lot of that—like humility, trust in and respect and reverence for God (fear of God), watching what you say and looking for peace, just to name a few. And this is just one psalm, and one passage of Scripture! There are thousands of recipes and promises of good in the Bible.

But a recipe is only good if we choose to follow the instructions, combining all the necessary ingredients.

I once made a beautiful loaf of bread from memory. Because it was familiar and I made it often, I didn’t bother to look at or consult the recipe. The bread rose beautifully and when it was baking, it smelled wonderful. Taking it from the oven, I couldn’t wait to taste it. But after biting into a slice, it was immediately evident that I’d forgotten a key ingredient—salt.

Sometimes we approach God’s tasty recipes the same way. We try to get the good things of God by doing what seems right: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but is end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NASB). But inevitably, when we leave out a key ingredient, like forgiveness, repentance, or trusting God, we’re left with a bad taste in our mouth.

Are you hungry for something good?  Peace? Provision? Comfort? Hope? Let’s browse through God’s recipes, allowing the Holy Spirit to measure out and stir the ingredients deeply into our hearts, and then submit it all to God by baking it in prayer. Once you’ve tasted the goodness of God, do like Lacey did with her meatloaf and tomato gravy recipe, share it with someone else, so they too can taste and see that God is good.

TWEETABLE
What’s Your Favorite Recipe? – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri Clark

About 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:  What are the spiritual recipes that have had an impact on your life?

The Science of the Servant-Leader

By Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity… Philippians 2:5-7 CSB

Did you ever get a note from your child’s school and secretly hope it was about anything but a project?

Minor behavior infraction. Please let it be a minor behavioral infraction.

Oh, that four-word note that casts dread deep into the heart of a parent: SCIENCE NOTEBOOK DUE MONDAY. Because bye-bye, weekend.

It’s funny how we try to convince ourselves that it’s NOT going to require more from parent than from child. Denial is interesting that way. I would eventually work through the stages and make it to acceptance. Acceptance that it’s a weekend of glue—and lots of it. And some researching, some clipping, some labeling and some Extra Strength Tylenol. Maybe also some crying. Not sure whose.

Those assignments do require much of us. But there’s a lovely science involved when we experiment, observe and conclude that in even the smallest life minutiae, as we lead responsibly, we’re teaching how to become responsible leaders. At the same time, as we serve well, we’re demonstrating how to be selfless servants.

How do we lead responsibly? The truth is, I can only lead well as I’m God-led.

How can we model servanthood? It’s an undeniable fact that I can only serve well as I’m God-empowered by my Servant-King.

Paul’s “schooling” in Philippians 2 has inspired and convicted me regularly since I was a teen (and working on my own science notebooks). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (vv. 3-4, CSB).

Everyone should look out not only for his own science notebooks…

I do think one of the best tests of how “servant-y” my heart is at any given moment is my willingness to lead in not expecting to be treated as a leader. By not insisting on status or recognition or payback or anything at all in return. By not asking for even a free weekend or an A+. The real question: Am I willing to serve when it’s probably going to cost me—even when it’s going to cost me deeply and dearly?

The next verses in that Philippians 2 passage reveal my assignment—my motivation and my empowerment. It’s all in Christ Jesus.

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:5-7 CSB). It was a servanthood that took a King all the way to a humiliating cross. And when I “adopt the same attitude,” and allow this glorious Servant-King to work in and out and through me, I can bypass the denial and the crying and any other misdirected response. Bye-bye, pride.

No hypothesis about it, in raising our kids, those times pride was in check, weekends were grand—project or no project. You should also know that I’m mostly kidding about the projects I did with my children. Because in the middle of a lot of tears, toil and Tylenol, we had concentrated time together on a project weekend we might not have had. In essence: Hello, weekend. We explored a sweet handful of topics together. I had five kids, so that does mean my fingers were a little bit glued together on a lot of Mondays. That’s okay. Especially since on that last science notebook, I got an A. I mean my son. My son got an A.

TWEETABLE
The Science of the Servant-Leader – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About 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 novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When 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 lessons have you learned about leadership?

Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 18:2 NIV

Over the years, my words have gotten me into a heap of trouble. I’ve initiated and meddled in arguments I shouldn’t have, fought to be right rather than understand, and wreaked destruction in the name of self-defense.

For years, though I longed to behave differently, my mouth failed to change.

Here’s why: I fought the symptom instead of the cause.

Whenever my words run amuck, my pride’s at fault. The solution, then, is surrender—making Jesus, obedience to Him (rather than man’s opinion) and the intimacy that follows—my treasure.

Let me explain.

Proverbs 18:1-4 (NIV) says, “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.”

When I speak foolishly, focused on defending myself or proving my point, I’m likely acting out of fear: fear of losing face or not getting what I want or hope for. But in my desire to elevate or defend myself, I miss crucial unspoken “heart talk.”

A while back, I engaged in a heated discussion that revealed considerable miscommunication—things heard that were never said, statements taken out of context, and others extrapolated in confusing ways. Focused on the miscommunication, I attempted to unpack each one.

I remained oblivious to the insecurities and wounds underlying it all, and thereby only exacerbating the problem. Had I focused on the person’s heart more than their words, I could’ve responded with wisdom and grace.

Reading through Proverbs 18, I thought of this interchange and prayerfully evaluated my heart.

I came up with this list of reminders and steps:

  1. I don’t need to defend myself. When someone criticizes me, if their complaints are valid, acknowledge them and prayerfully consider ways I might change. Because living in grace means I’m in need of it, too. I’m broken, prone to sin, and nowhere near who God would have me to be, yet even now I’m accepted and deeply loved. This disarms my pride, as I humbly recognize my need for Christ, which increases my courage to grow.
  2. God’s opinion and my obedience to Him is more important than man’s perception of me. When I base my identity in Christ and treasure intimacy with Him more than saving face, I don’t need to defend myself or prove my point.
  3. When I begin to feel defensive, I must uncover the fear beneath and remind myself of who I am in Christ. He’s my defender, protector, perfect guide, and the One who holds my future in His hands.
  4. Don’t own whatever’s not true. Simply disregard it, reminding myself of steps one through three.
  5. Finally, listen for the fears and insecurities behind my “opponent’s” words and address those before attempting to resolve anything external.

TWEETABLE
Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words – encouragement from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Relational conflicts can be messy, confusing, and cloaked in emotion and false perceptions. Seeking grace-filled resolution means putting a guard rail on my tongue and taking time to go deep—to my and my opponent’s heart. It also involves surrendering my pride and emotions to Jesus so that He can love others through me. It’s just another way to live out grace in our lives.

Jennifer SlatteryAbout 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 Hometown Healing 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 HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Do you ever feel insignificant or unseen? As if what you do or even who you are isn’t quite good enough? If so, this seven week Bible study, Becoming His Princess, is for you. Based on the remarkable life of Sarah, you will find a grace that will prove sufficient for all your failures and insufficiencies.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to guard your tongue? When considering times your words have gotten you into trouble, can you see similar “root causes” as I mentioned above? How often has fear and pride lied at the root of your conflicts? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

 

The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 ESV

Around the fifth century, as the story is told, Irish raiders stole an adolescent named Patrick from his family and enslaved him for six years until he escaped back to his family in Britain. After entering the church, Patrick returned to Ireland – to the people who had held him in slavery – serving them as a missionary and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ.

Patrick is quoted as saying, “Before I was humiliated, I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.”

In his studies, Patrick must have read the story of a boy named Joseph, favored by his father above all his brothers. One day, out of jealousy for their father’s attentions, the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but instead sold him to passing slave traders.

Joseph was enslaved in Egypt but found favor with the man he served. Once again, though, despite Joseph’s innocence, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Any one of us would have been tempted to sink into self-pity, bitterness, and anger. Joseph’s faithfulness had been once again repaid with injustice and humiliation. During his imprisonment, Joseph, again, distinguished himself for his faithful work.

Finally, Joseph was freed and rose to be second only to Pharaoh. God used him to serve and deliver not only the nation where he served as a slave, but also his family, the very brothers who betrayed him. By the time he saved them, he, like St. Patrick, had found a greater purpose to his trials than they could ever know.

To celebrate St. Patrick is to celebrate the power of the One True God who continues to work in those of us stones that lie in modern mud, in those of us betrayed or victims of injustice, in those of us who suffer despite our faithfulness and love.

Today, before you don the green, cook up the corned beef, or raise a pint, consider those who have committed wrongs against you – those who perhaps held your spirit captive  – and choose, like St. Patrick and Joseph, to forgive them, maybe reach out to them, to serve in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

People harmed many of us in our youth. Like St. Patrick who was taken captive, or Joseph, the dreamer, sold by his brothers into slavery, we experienced harm and a certain type of bondage that interrupted our direct track to growing as we thought we should. St. Patrick and Joseph both found the power of God to be stronger than the power of those who had done them wrong.

They overcame through the spirit of Jesus Christ and not only broke free but forgave those who wronged them. Rather than being crippled by their captors, they translated their experiences into the language of God’s love and wove it into a greater story.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate a kind of freedom that many still have not experienced. The freedom to forgive those who have harmed us and to live our lives defined – not by them – but by our devotion to the truth and to Jesus Christ.

It isn’t an easy path. But it is a possible path. Jesus. Jesus is the Way.

Ask Patrick. He found the road. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It is a celebration of those, freed by Christ, who spent their freedom serving others.

TWEETABLE
The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick – 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 ever been given a rock? What deeper issues did it lead you to question?

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?