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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

I Confess, I am a Hoarder

 by Lori Wildenberg @LoriWildenberg

I showed no mercy. This year, as I was preparing to decorate for Christmas, I got brave enough to finally ditch the ornaments I no longer display. My collection was significantly reduced. It feels good to scale back. As my purged pile of give-aways grew, God impressed upon me that I hang onto lots of things– and not just material ones.

It’s true: I am a spiritual hoarder.  I cling to poor habits and negative characteristics. YIKES.

During this Christmas season, with God’s prompting, I have challenged myself to ditch the qualities that look more like me and less like the babe in the manger.

I have 10 goals that I know will help my spiritual hoarding tendencies.

  1. I need to freely forgive. When I’ve hurt someone, I want to be forgiven. Why would I not be willing to give it when another has wronged me? Lord, replace my unforgiving heart with a forgiving heart. I want to be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18:21)
  2. I need humility. Pride divides. It gets in the way of any relationship and family closeness. Lord, one of the six things You hate is haughty eyes. Please replace my stubbornness with humility. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
  3. My love for people needs to be unconditional. Love is a gift. It isn’t meant to be parceled out, divided, or earned. Lord, give me the supernatural capacity to love when it is hard. (Matthew 5:43-48)
  4. Generosity needs to be my first response. The All About Me syndrome –my time, my resources, my feelings, my perspective has been ruling me too long! To cure this malady, I will be a servant and try to see things from God’s point of view. Lord, remove my selfishness, give me eyes to see what you see and create a servant attitude in my heart. (Mark 9:35)
  5. Contentment should define my attitude. I need to remember all that God has given me in His goodness and generosity. Lord, take away my dissatisfaction and replace it with contentment in the abundant blessings You have given me, so a thankful and grateful heart can blossom. (Philippians 4:11)
  6. I must make people my priority. The present of presence is the most meaningful gift of all. Lord, I am easily distracted by my list of to-dos. Remind me daily that people are more important than what I think I should be accomplishing. (Mark 10:13-16)
  7. Kindness must mark my interactions. Compassion and understanding is the glue that holds families together. Lord, replace my critical spirit with kindness. Nudge me to speak life by being positive and encouraging. (Ephesians 4:29)
  8. I need to think before I react. Rather than allowing strong emotions to rule me, I want to manage difficult situations with wisdom, love, and peace. Lord, help me to respond to difficult moments in a way that honors You. Teach me to address disagreements agreeably. (Proverbs 12:16)
  9. I want my home to be one that emphasizes participation and pitching in. A place where people care so much about each other that they want to do life together. I want us to function like a family instead of roommates and boarders, fostering relationships that will last a lifetime. Lord, wipe away my spirit of independence and exchange it for a dependence on You and interdependence with my family members. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  10. Most of all, I want to become more like Jesus. I want to put myself aside and keep my eyes focused on Him. Lord, I want to reflect you in all I do. (Matthew 11:29)

Of course there’s no hope of accomplishing any of this on my own. A true change will require supernatural intervention by the One who shows us a better way. Praying for His help is the most effective weapon to fight my negative tendencies. And of course, learning more about Jesus is the way to become more like him…and less like me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.                                                                                               Galatians 5:22-26

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I Confess, I am a Hoarder – insight from @LoriWildenberg on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori WildenbergAbout the author: Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She’s a national speaker, parent coach, and author of 5 books, including The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. 

How do we create an atmosphere for connection while living in the messy moments of parenting? The Messy Life of Parenting shows you small changes you can make now to build lasting family relationships, even when the going gets tough.

You can subscribe to Lori’s blog or invite her to speak at your event by heading to her website: www.loriwildenberg.com. You can also find her hanging out on IG and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What qualities do you want to ditch so you can look more like the King in the cradle?

 

It All Starts in the Mind

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

You’d never know it to look at me, but I am an expert at dieting. I’m on a first name basis with the ladies at Weight Watchers. Sugar-free Jell-O jumps off the shelf into my grocery cart as I walk by. I can recite the points value of most foods on demand. My overweight status is not a reflection of dieting ignorance, believe me.

So far I am down 17 pounds since April. For some reason, I am sticking with it this time around. I think it has a lot to do with discovering that dieting is really a two-step process. The first step is to gain the proper mindset. Vegetables are our friends. Exercise is a good thing. Hunger means fat is burning. Once the brain is in gear, now the dieter is ready to begin taking actual measures to lose weight. Exercising portion control, reducing fats and carbs, and planning ahead are all actions that will move the dieter toward her goal.

What started in the mind must become a lifestyle.

This two-step process rings true for our spiritual lives as well. Jesus demonstrated this for us. Philippians 2:5-6 (NASB) shows us how Christ’s mindset played a key role in His coming: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…” Before descending to earth, Jesus completely gave up His privilege, rank, and honor. All that He had and deserved He set aside for the sake of His mission: redeeming those He loved.

Step One: Get the right mindset. As we follow Christ’s example, we, too, must give up our claim to rights and privileges. Like Jesus, the desire for things like proper recognition and standing, all those things that make us special in man’s eyes, must be voluntarily set aside. As Americans, this is almost foreign to us! We prize our rights highly. When they are ignored, we feel victimized. Yet when we follow Christ, the right mindset—complete humility with no thought to ourselves—is crucial.

Paul did not stop there. For Jesus, thought led to action. “[He] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Christ’s actions were a reflection of His attitude. He did not come as a king or a member of any privileged class. When the magi came from the east to find the king, they went straight to the palace. Where else would a king be born? Certainly not in some dirty stable.

But Christ left privilege and rank completely behind. He was born to common folks from a town of no consequence. He lived out His ministry with “no place to lay His head.” Paul calls Him a bond-servant (Philippians 2:10), the lowest of ranks. When it happened, the climax of Christ’s ministry was what you would least expect from the King of Kings. It was not when He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was when He hung on a cross several days later, like a common criminal, bearing the crushing load of the world’s sin. Crucifixion was considered a shameful death, and an embarrassment to family and all who knew Him.

Christ’s every action was governed by His complete submission and obedience to the Father. In our imitation of Him, our actions must flow out of that same attitude. What will following Christ’s example look like in our lives? How will an attitude of surrender be fleshed out as we live?

It will be seen in the small, every day decisions we make to put others ahead of ourselves. We will serve, not to get acknowledgement, but simply in response to what God has done for us. Our own agenda will be put aside in the interests of God’s purposes. We will voluntarily submit our will to His.

It all starts with a mind-set of submission and humility. Challenging, to be sure. We are much more prone to look out for number one. But it can be done. Jesus showed the way with His perfect example of obedience to the Father’s will. He is not asking anything of us that He has not already done Himself.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 NASB

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It All Starts in the Mind – 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 close look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What other facets of Jesus’ example mean the most to you?

Knowing Who We Are Not

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @lorisroeleveld

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 1:20-21 ESV

As vital as knowing who we are is knowing who we are not – and accepting that.

To my mother’s despair, I’ve always been a sensible shoe girl. I grew up studious, bookish, and serious about God and didn’t see the allure of shiny shoes. I was happy with a brown pair for every day, one black pair for Sundays, and sneakers.

My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes. It sported every color imaginable, heels of varying heights, and, of course, purses to match. She always looks polished and lovely, but it seems exhausting to me to switch purses all the time and shop for the perfect shoes for each outfit.

When I began speaking to women’s groups, I fretted about my shoe situation. I imagined rooms full of women like my mother quietly assessing my boring, sensible shoes. Suddenly, speaking didn’t feel as much about my message as it did about what was on my feet.

It’s not that I wanted to change myself for them as much as I wanted the women to know I respected them enough to work at my appearance. I didn’t want my footwear to distract them from what God had given me to share.

So, I shopped for heels with lovely colors and practiced walking in them. I developed a modest collection, weathering blisters and sore ankles in preparation for events. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t feel at home in pretty shoes.

To my dismay, while no audience member may have been distracted by my footwear, I certainly was! The complaints from my feet began to register by the middle of my talks, growing into undeniable screams long before the end. Afterward, I could only half-listen to earnest women trying to share their concerns before rushing to my car for the relief of my sensible shoes.

Providentially, during a home renovation project, several hundred pounds of sheet rock crushed my left foot, leaving me in a boot for months. The orthopedist informed me that my days of wearing heels were over.

I could almost hear God’s sigh of relief.  I was never meant to be a pretty shoe kind of girl. He designed me for sensible shoes. I’ve worn them ever since. And you know what? None of the women to whom I speak have even noticed. How I underestimated the depth of my pretty shoe-wearing friends! I can now give them my full attention without the agony of screaming feet.

John the Baptist not only knew who he was, but also who he wasn’t. This grounded his ministry and prepared him to serve in the way God designed. He came on the scene with such incredible power. And as the crowds flocked to hear him preach, it might have been tempting to consider taking a greater role. But in humility, he accepted that as Christ increased, he must decrease.

Knowing who we are provides us courage in Christ; accepting who we aren’t increases our humility and helps us to see ourselves within the context of a body of believers. This ultimately gives us freedom in Christ to appreciate the varying gifts of others.

And as long as our feet are fitted with the gospel, we can serve in heels, flats, or flip-flops, but in the end we serve together as a body in the name of Christ!

TWEETABLE
Knowing Who We Are Not – 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. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.

Join the conversation: Have you ever tried to be someone you weren’t?