Life with Jesus—Travel Light with Arms Linked

by Jennifer Slattery

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s this: Life will be tough, and you can’t plan for everything. We can wear ourselves out trying by filling our brains with information we hope will help us stand firm through the next recession or global pandemic. Or we can travel light and alert, releasing our fear and expectations, with our arms linked and our hearts set on Christ.

That second option is the only way we can truly run this race well, and we’ll need God’s help to do it. May He inform our prayers and our steps.

Like many of you, I’m anticipating a busy fall, and honestly, I’m feeling a bit nervous. I know God is leading me and is more than sufficient for all I and my team might need. But I also know I’m going to be more dependent on Him, and potentially, others, than ever before. I know, if He doesn’t “come through,” I’ll fail–in so many areas.

And yet, I’m determined not to evaluate my time and assignments through my abilities and limited perspective. Instead, I’m trusting God to lead me step by step and to give me all that I need.

He’s been so faithful. Each morning, as I open my Bible, He lovingly, gently, speaks to my soul, encouraging and preparing me for all that’s ahead. Alerting me to challenges, those obstacles and storms I can’t yet see but He can.

And in response, He urges me to unite myself with His mission-minded children, and to pray, as He instructed His disciples when He sent them out in pairs to preach His truth.

Scripture says, “Now after this,” (“this” is likely referring to when He sent out the 12 in the chapter prior), “the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves.Carry no money belt, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one along the way’” (Luke 10:1-4, NASB).

Jesus wanted His disciples to travel light and remain dependent on Him, but He didn’t want them to journey alone. Not only did He pair them up, thus providing them the support they’d need to stand confident and firm when surrounded by “wolves.” But He also told them to ask God to raise others up to help further His mission.

I’m struck by how often I get this backwards. When I see a large assignment, I tend to take off running, recruiting people to help along the way. But notice, Jesus told His disciples to pray first, and not just to pray but to “plead” with God that He would raise up allies and coworkers. This reminds me of the importance of the mission and how much I need co-laborers. I’m to pray for them with the same desperation as if I was praying for myself.

I’m left wrestling with this: When was the last time I felt that level of urgency for those who don’t know Jesus? When did I last surround myself with those brought to tears over the condition of someone’s soul?

How might you answer those same questions?

Lord, help us to live with deeper dependence: dependence on You and one another, because we know this mission of breaking through darkness with light is too big and too important for us to race forward alone. Touch our hearts afresh. Draw us so close to Yourself that our hearts and prayers resembles Yours. Raise up Your children. Ignite our souls, link our arms, and mobilize our feet. 

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Are you working in tandem with others?

Pride and the Love of Christ

by Jennifer Slattery

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 NIV

When my actions and reactions don’t resemble my Savior and the gentleness that characterizes His wisdom from above, I know I’ve left Him behind. This happens every time I allow my fear and pride, rather than Christ, take the lead. It’s not long after that I develop an us-versus-them mentality. And my love, which Christ told us to radiate most clearly, begins to grow cold.

While praying through Luke 9 this past week, I sensed God calling me to evaluate my pride-filled tendencies. Too many times I serve from a place of superiority, which gets revealed in the ugliness that follows. I’m willing to fight for an insignificant mound of dirt, all the while ignoring the hill—Calvary—that our Savior fixed His gaze upon.

The above verse records some of the most beautiful words about Jesus: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, NIV). Knowing all He’d face in Jerusalem, He still moved forward in determination, willing to lay down His life for even His enemies.

On the way, Jesus and His disciples stopped in Samaria. They found they were not welcome there. James and John were enraged. These were half-breeds; how dare they reject The Master?   “Lord,” they said, “Do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54 NIV). They still didn’t get it: they were following a humble servant, one who would suffer for humankind, who only gave glory to the Father. He had not come to judge, but to save.

At Calvary, Jesus’ love would be vividly displayed—for those who received or rejected Him. The disciples didn’t yet understand. I suspect they were blinded by pride, thinking they, the chosen ones, had lowered themselves simply to enter Samaria. Their sense of superiority tainted any love they might otherwise have displayed.

How grieved Jesus must’ve been that day, to see putrid reservoirs of pride well up within hearts where streams of living water should’ve begun to flow.

While I’ve never asked God to obliterate an entire town, I’ve seen my pride repel the very people God died to save. Thinking of myself as entitled or more important than others as I minister is the opposite to the example Jesus consistently lived before His followers.

Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3 NASB). There is no room for pride or entitlement when we are serving a Savior who is filled with humility and love.

Lord, remind us, daily, of our need for You, precisely why we need You so desperately, so that our hearts won’t decay from the sin of superiority. Fill us so fully with Your love that only what is good and lovely and pure can remain.

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the Conversation: Has pride ever gotten in your way of effectively ministering to others?

The Power that Comes When We Return and Rest

by Jennifer Slattery

[Jesus invited His disciples:] …Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31 NIV

Early in my ministry, I often exhausted myself trying to manage everything. Though I knew with certainty my assignment came directly from God, I worked as if He expected to carry the load alone. As if results came through sheer grit rather than the work of His hands.

When one of my team members forgot or failed to complete a task, I felt responsible to step in and catch every ball that happened to get dropped. Though I talked a great deal about faith-filled, surrendered living, I routinely behaved as if our results depended on me. Unfortunately, my attitude trickled down to everyone else, turning roles that should’ve brought us great joy, fulfillment, and ever-deepening connections with our Savior into tiresome, anxiety-producing chores.

I knew, intellectually, I wasn’t living or leading as He desired but lacked the courage to slow my hustle. I felt if I did, we’d fail. I was not relying on Christ to be my source of wisdom and strength. Perhaps my heart didn’t believe what my mouth proclaimed.

Then, one spring, life hit many of my team members hard. Hurricanes threw some off balance. Family illnesses left others struggling to think straight let alone write or create. At first, I tried to work harder and faster but this only led to burnout with little visible growth.

My inspiration and vision squashed, I wanted to quit. And so, for a time, I basically did. We all did, in fact, for nearly six months. I expected to see all that we’d worked for would fade until our organization died completely.  

Instead, we grew.

And when the Coronavirus forced us to cancel a year’s worth of events along with their funding, we grew again in terms of readership, impact, and volunteers. Through it all, God reminded me of something that in all my running, I’d forgotten. The God who formed, redeemed, molded, and empowers me doesn’t need me to perform or to strive. Instead, He invites me to yield and to trust. Or rather, to shift my trust off of myself and to where it belongs: on Him.

Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (NIV).  God spoke these words to ancient Israel when the Assyrian army was coming against them. Grossly overpowered from a human perspective, they were terrified. In their desperation, they turned to Egypt, with its iron chariots and well-trained army, placing more faith in the might of man than in God Almighty. They thought they were aligning themselves with strength. But by distancing themselves from the God who loved them, they were actually increasing their weakness.

God beckoned them to return to Him, the One who had proven His faithfulness again and again, but they refused to listen. And while I can recognize the foolishness of their actions, I much too frequently behave like them when I am under attack. I soon realize, however, how insufficient my most fervent efforts and greatest allies truly are, when formed apart from Christ.

But the moment I turn back to Him in faith, God fights on my behalf, makes up for my lack, and gives me everything I need to do all He’s asked, just as He did for ancient Israel when King Hezekiah humbled himself and turned to God.

Then, his soul was quieted and at peace, not panicked, rushed or confused.

Choosing surrender, especially when the stakes are high, can feel incredibly frightening. But it places us in a position of power and strength. I’m reminding myself of this truth now as I am about to enter into a busy season, returning to school while writing, speaking, leading a ministry … When people ask how I’ll manage it all, I smile and say that I have an amazing team. And I do, but even more than that, we serve an amazing God. I know He will carry everything He wants to thrive. Therefore, whatever areas fall short must not be from Him, because He is big enough and strong enough to perfect all that concerns us.

He is big enough for all that concerns you as well.        

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with surrender?

     

When Christ Doesn’t Fit Our Expectations

by Jennifer Slattery

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3 NASB

Years ago, in the middle of a crisis, God challenged me to consider how deep my loyalties lay. I needed to consider who He truly was to me. Would I treat Him as a Genie or a motivational guru who offered plithy words of affirmation when I needed an emotional boost, or would I live as if He truly was my Lord?

This was about thirteen years ago, during what I term my “Louisiana experience,” when God’s healing work within me intensified in a way that left me reeling. I felt as if I was reliving key, devastating moments, free-falling into some of my greatest fears.

I wanted Him to fix my circumstances–immediately. To save our house, save our finances, and really, our way of life.

But Christ wanted to fix my soul. So, in the middle of my desperate prayers, He asked, “Do you love Me now?”

In other words, “If I don’t answer your prayers as you hope, will you still choose Me?” He was challenging me to evaluate my expectations and toss them, if need be.

Some 2,000 years ago, the men and women of Nazareth faced a similar choice. Would they accept that Jesus, their neighbor and friend, was the long-promised Messiah? They must’ve heard about all the miracles He’d performed. How He’d healed people of their diseases, cast out demons, and even raised a dead girl to life. The people were amazed by all He did and said, until He made it clear, He wasn’t just a prophet or well-spoken teacher. He wasn’t just Someone out to better their day. He was God’s anointed Savior, His Son, with the full authority that entailed.

In the synagogue at Nazareth, He read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-19, 21 NIV).

Granted, the Jews wanted a Savior; just not the One standing before them. No. They wanted a much more regal, more prestigious, and more political, less … rustic Messiah. And so they scoffed, rejecting the freedom Christ offered because it didn’t come packaged as they’d expected.

I’m no so different from them. While I’ve accepted God’s free gift of salvation, there’ve been times when I’ve resisted His Spirit. I’ve learned, however, after stumbling down numerous exhausting dead ends, that His is the only path that leads to freedom. He truly did come to bring good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed and enslaved.

What Jesus read to the people in that Nazarene synagogue some 2,000 years ago, was a prophecy given during a dark time in Israel’s history. After a short period of revival, the people had once again slipped into idolatry. God warned them, again and again, if they didn’t repent, judgment would come. But even then, God wouldn’t abandon them forever. Life wouldn’t always be hard and painful; eventually, jubilee, a day of joy and freedom, would come.

God makes that same promise to us. Whether we’re suffering the consequences of our sin or perhaps sin that’s been done to us, we can trust good will come. His heart is for us always. When we remember that He truly did come to set the captive free, we’ll find it easier to surrender to His lead, even when His plans or methods don’t match our temporary expectations.   

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Have your expectations of God ever let you down?

Praying with Confidence

by Jennifer Slattery

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

We pray differently when we recognize God as our Father. Not in a figurative, authority figure sense or as a harsh rule enforcer, but as the attentive, dare I even say doting, all-powerful Dad that He is. When we fail to understand those truths, we approach God hesitantly. Apologetically. We say things like, “I know others are dealing with so much worse, but could You please …” Or, “I hate to bother You with this, Lord …”

My daughter doesn’t approach my husband and I with such disclaimers. I have, however, witnessed this hesitation in youth our family has taken in over the years. Kids who come from rough places and developed a distorted view of love and themselves. They struggled to recognize, understand, and fully accept their worth. As a result, if they sought my help, or my ear, at all, they did so timidly, entering my office with eyes downcast, as if their very presence irritated me.

The opposite is true. When they approached me with confidence, with honest and unfiltered requests, I didn’t find them rude or bothersome. I was filled with joy because their actions revealed trust—of me and my love. I knew they’d begun to see themselves less as a houseguest and more like a beloved child.

If you’re a parent, you probably understand what I mean. Maybe you’re smiling at a memory of your son or daughter running into your bedroom, begging for a pony or something else you had no intention of granting. Or asking for protection from monsters you knew don’t exist. I doubt their pleas irritated you. You expected them to ask for the big things and the small, the things you loved to grant and those you lovingly withheld. That was your role—to decide what requests to fulfill or deny—just as theirs was to ask.

Jesus offered us, His beloved, this same invitation when He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NIV). He then shared an analogy intended to deepen our understanding of our Heavenly Father at His core and who we are to Him.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Jesus said. “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-10, NIV).

If we interpret Christ’s words as a promise to grant all of our desires, we’ll be disappointed and subsequently disillusioned. If we receive His statement as the caring invitation it was, however, our confidence in Him and His love grows—regardless of His response.

His heart is for us always, and He longs to grant us not just good things, but full access to Himself. That doesn’t mean He wants us to embrace a flippant and entitled attitude. That’s not relationship; that’s not love. But He does want us to come. To come often, to come easily, and to come with the boldness of someone who knows they are indeed wholly, eternally, and oh, so deeply loved.

Pause to consider your common approach to prayer. Do you proceed to God’s throne with the confidence of a child of God and heir of grace (Hebrews 4:16) or with the timidity of a tenant? What might God need to do within your heart to help you approach Him as His beloved

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

Join Jennifer and her Wholly Loved Ministry team for an online mother-daughter conference for moms of teen through adult daughters. The mother-daughter relationship can be one of the most precious connections we experience, but they can also be a source of conflict and pain. Wholly Loved Ministries wants to help moms and daughters love one another well and experience the deep connections their hearts crave. Through personal anecdotes, biblical truths, and thought-provoking discussion questions, this event equips moms and daughters to cultivate the depth of relationship God Himself wants them to experience. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What might God need to do within your heart to help you approach Him as His beloved?

Ditching the External Polish to Live in Freedom

by Jennifer Slattery

Trying to live a God-honoring life in our own strength is like spring cleaning with our hands zip-tied and strobe lights flashing. Bound and vision distorted, we may be able to knock some cobwebs out of our way, but we’ll remain oblivious to the spiders forming them. We may, in fact, inadvertently help hide and thus fortify their webs.

As commentator Jamieson-Fausset-Brown put it: “Whatever in religion is disconnected from Christ comes to nothing.” Worse than nothing, in fact. Unless empowered by our Savior, our most fervent efforts inevitably lead to exhaustion and increased bondage. To a life where we’re always grasping and striving, never quite able to reach the freedom for which our souls so desperately ache. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to fight against sin, to fight for a better life, only to feel the weight of it all come crashing down.

Whenever I see others in that self-defeating cycle, I remember the soul-crushing futility I once felt. And my heart cries out, “Look up! Your rescue has arrived.” Only they can’t see it, or if they do, they discount it. Because in order to grab hold of salvation, they first must come to terms with the depth of their mess. That can feel terrifying for those who’ve spent a lifetime hiding behind laced curtains.

This has always been God’s call. To trust, and ultimately to admit, despite how we appear in all those photo-shopped pictures we so readily share across social media, that we truly don’t have it all together. That we’re floundering and need a Savior.

In love, He urges us to open wide the doors of our hearts so that His grace can swoop into every corner, every crevice, and truly wash us clean.

Speaking to the religious elite of His day—those who routinely hid their filth like greed, pride, and lust, behind a well-polished veneer, Jesus said,“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

“Whoever is not with Me is against me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Luke 11:21-26, NIV).

In context, Jesus was refuting accusations that His power against evil came from evil, which clearly made no sense. But His message went even deeper. In essence, He told them, “I stand before you, greater than all the forces of darkness that war against your soul. You can’t fight your demons alone. You need me. And I am here.”

He’s offering the same invitation to us. We can dress up our outsides with smiles, appropriate religious slogans, and charitable acts, or we can surrender to the only one with the power to truly make us clean. To truly set us free.

Only then can we say, without hesitation or hypocrisy, “Blessed” –happy and free—”is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Ps. 32:2, NIV).

No hiding. No pretending. No frantic polishing. Simply resting, yielding, and transforming.

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Have you truly been set free from the need to hide your weaknesses?

What Did Jesus Mean by Living as Salt and Light?

by Jennifer Slattery

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13 NASB

How salty are you? When people encounter you, do they walk away intrigued? Enticed to experience the life you have? Or do they sputter and spit, thinking, “Man, I do not want more of that?”

My family will be the first to tell you: I stink at cooking. I’ll never entice anyone with a home-cooked meal. I do hope, however, that you’ll join us for relational reasons. That you’ll discover that we’re loving people of integrity and be drawn to that. To us, and hopefully, the God who empowers us.

Love. Grace. Integrity. That’s a powerful combination, able to dispel the false and often negative associations our culture attaches to Christianity. When we live what we claim to believe, consistently yielding to the Holy Spirit within, many times we find our words aren’t all that necessary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share truth. As a faith-based writer and speaker, I spend a good deal of time doing that, after all. What I am saying is that our day-to-day actions should speak loudest and clearest. And if they don’t? Then we’ve probably become one of two things: A bland Christian who has allowed their flavor to leach out by our culture or sin. Or we have become an angry and hostile religious person who puckers everyone’s mouths, even those who agree with our truth claims.

Living with radiance and flavor, however, means doing all we can to model Christ: how we speak, how we serve, how we love, how we give, and how we react. We mustn’t separate Christ’s call to live as the salt of the earth and light of the world from the context in which He spoke this.

He began by telling us all the seemingly contradictory ways we’d be blessed.

  • Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those destitute on their own and recognizing their constant need for Christ. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Blessed are those who mourn, because it’s often during the hard times that we most experience our Savior. (Matthew 5:4)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—who long to know and please God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • Blessed are the meek, who demonstrate strength under control. In other words, who are able to speak truth with love, gentleness, and grace and don’t lose their cool in Facebook arguments or endless political debates. (Matthew 5:6)
  • Blessed are those who seek justice, absolutely, but are most known for their mercy. (Matthew 5:7)    
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—free from pride, selfish ambition, bitterness and sin. (Matthew 5:8)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers—those who actively join God’s mission to bring relational, emotional, and spiritual health to our broken world. (Matthew 5:9)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted, insulted, mocked, and disdained, for the sake of Christ, because our love often shines brightest in the face of hatred. (Matthew 5:10-12)

After explaining what a Christ-honoring life looks like, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15 NIV.) So shine brightly, that [others] may see…your arguments and hear all the verses you’ve memorized? No. “That they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

In short, they will know us by our love, one displayed with equal parts of truth and grace. A life characterized by both truly does have the power to change the world.

You and I have the power to change the world, one heart at a time. Jesus showed and told us precisely how. Will we follow His example? 

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

Jennifer Slattery
Faith Over Fear - Christian Podcast

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What character quality do you thing will best show Jesus to the world?

What Did Jesus Mean by Living as Salt and Light?

by Jennifer Slattery

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and tramples under foot by men. Matt 5:13 NASB

How salty are you? When people encounter you, do they walk away intrigued? Enticed to experience the life you have? Or do they sputter and spit, thinking, “Man, I do not want more of that?”

My family will be the first to tell you, I stink at cooking. I’ll never entice anyone with a fresh cooked meal. I do hope, however, that you’ll join us for relational reasons. That you’ll discover that we’re loving people of integrity and be drawn to that. To us, and hopefully, the God who empowers us.

Love. Grace. Integrity. That’s a powerful combination able to dispel the false and often negative associations our culture attaches to Christianity. When we live what we claim to believe, consistently yielding to the Holy Spirit within, many times, we find our words aren’t all that necessary.

Now, please don’t mishear me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share truth. As a faith-based writer and speaker, I spend a good deal of time doing that, after all. What I am saying, however, is that our day-to-day actions should speak loudest and clearest. And if they don’t? Then we’ve probably become one of two things: A bland Christian who has allowed their flavor to leach out by our culture or sin. Or, an angry and hostile religious person who puckers everyone’s mouths, even those who agree with our truth claims.

Living with radiance and flavor, however, means doing all we can to model Christ in every area of our lives: how we speak, how we serve, how we love, how we give, and how we react. We mustn’t separate Christ’s call to live as the salt of the earth and light of the world from the context in which He spoke this.

He began by telling us all the seemingly contradictory ways we’d be blessed.

  • Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those destitute on their own and recognizing their constant need for Christ. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Blessed are those who mourn, because it’s often during the hard times that we most experience our Savior. (Matthew 5:4)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—who long to know and please God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • Blessed are the meek, who demonstrate strength under control. In other words, who are able to speak truth with love, gentleness, and grace and don’t lose their cool in Facebook arguments or endless political debates. (Matthew 5:6)
  • Blessed are those who seek justice, absolutely, but are most known for their mercy. (Matthew 5:7)    
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—free from pride, selfish ambition, bitterness and sin. (Matthew 5:8)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers—those who actively join God’s mission to bring relational, emotional, and spiritual health to our broken world. (Matthew 5:9)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted, insulted, mocked, and disdained, for the sake of Christ, because our love often shines brightest in the face of hatred. (Matthew 5:10-12)

After explaining what a Christ-honoring life looks like, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15 NIV.) So shine brightly, that [others] may see…your arguments and hear all the verses you’ve memorized? No. “That they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

In short, they will know us by our love, one displayed with equal parts truth and grace. A life characterized by both truly does have the power to change the world. You and I have the power to change the world, one heart at a time. Jesus showed and told us precisely how. Will we follow His example? 


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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Join Jennifer and her Wholly Loved Ministry team for an online mother-daughter conference for moms of teen through adult daughters. The mother-daughter relationship can be one of the most precious connections we experience, but they can also be a source of conflict and pain. Wholly Loved Ministries wants to help moms and daughters love one another well and experience the deep connections their hearts crave. Through personal anecdotes, biblical truths, and thought-provoking discussion questions, this event equips moms and daughters to cultivate the depth of relationship God Himself wants them to experience. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What specific things have you seen in others that brings “flavor” to the world?

Bringing Friends to Jesus

by Jennifer Slattery

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NASB

I don’t want the love I give to be based on convenience, but honestly, this is my greatest battle. It’s relentless and persistent, and unfortunately, there are times I concede. Because of pride, insecurity, distraction … and a fierce hold on my comfort level. I give of my time and my money, my energy … but only so much.  To love deeper, I need to sit. Sit with my Savior, the One who floods my soul with everything good and right and lovely. And I need to sit in other people’s pain, so that it becomes my own.

Years ago, I watched a profound video that halted my thoughts and convicted my soul. In it, a man was advocating for orphans he’d encountered personally while visiting a developing country. Seeing them face-to-face as they scrounged through garbage cans, those children, once statistics easily forgotten, became real. And in that moment, God asked Him how he’d respond if the child digging through trash were his child. Then God told him the child was His—God’s.

I have to pause there. I know I can’t take on every wrong, but I can speak love and hope to those God brings near. Through grace and truth-filled actions, I can introduce them to my Savior. Even if that means actively tearing through the barriers that keep them from Him.

I can follow the example of the men who carried a paralytic—perhaps a friend or family member—to Christ. Scripture doesn’t tell us how far they’d traveled, whether a mile or ten. This was during a time when paralytics were often considered cursed by God, and likely to be abandoned by friends. Therefore, most of them suffered not only the loss of mobility, but the loss of community as well. I imagine the loneliness hurt most.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the paralytic in our story. His friends stood by him. They (literally) walked beside him as well. Even if that meant pushing through a throng of desperate people, embracing the stigma of associating with a paralytic, and potentially angering the religious elite—those with the power to expel people from their faith community (John 12:42). The Bible says everyone “gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door …” (Mark 2:2 NIV).

Pause to envision the scene. Envision these men standing on the outskirts, surveying the crowd. Place yourself in that position for a moment, not only needing to push through but to push through with someone our culture might stigmatize.

Who is that person for you? The one our society keeps on the fringe, ignores, and even disdains?

Had you been those men, how might you have responded?

Would you have hung back, telling yourself all the reasons Jesus didn’t have time for your friend?

That’s not what these men did. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on” (Mark 2:2-4 NIV).

That’d be the equivalent of someone removing your window to crawl inside your house. Polite, civilized people just don’t do that sort of thing.

But those desperate to see their loved ones encounter Christ do.

The result? Verse 5 states, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”

When Jesus saw their faith. Sit on that phrase in light of this passage. Their faith propelled these men into action. They knew their friend needed Jesus and couldn’t reach Him on his own, so they stepped into the gap. The broke through the barriers keeping the paralytic from life, and they received precisely what they longed for and more.

Reading this, I have to ask myself—who does God want me to step into the gap for, and what might that look like? What “roof” might I need to unhinge or “crowd” might I need to push through? More importantly, will I? Or will I stand on the fringe, waiting for an easy opening, one that fits my schedule or comfort level?

Each day, each encounter, my choice.

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What about you? Who might God be asking you to bring to Him? Will you?

Seeing the Light in Dark Times

by Jennifer Slattery

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28 NIV

No matter how dark things appear, light is breaking through. The question is, will we see it? When difficulties come, it’s so easy to focus on the challenges and disappointments, and in that, to forget the heart, power, presence, and purposes of Christ.

I’ve noticed something lately, something that happens again and again. So often, my most challenging moments, in Christ’s hands, become so life-giving. When Covid-19 hit, my ministry lost an entire year of conferences, and therefore a year’s worth of funding. At the time, I felt confused and uncertain. But God used the pause and our renewed focus on Him to lead us into new, increasingly fruitful territory.

This pattern has also played out in my relationships. Years ago, my marriage was in a rough place and I felt the hours and stress of my husband’s job routinely stole him from me. Initially, the situation seemed to worsen. But God was working, revealing things both of us had too easily ignored. That dark period became a catalyst for change and growth.

Perhaps the most vivid light-piercing-darkness event occurred when I first became sick. Initially, fighting my illness alone, I tried various supplemental “cures.” The more out of control my body felt, the more I fought for control. By the time I sought a doctor and received a diagnosis, my latent, previously manageable and largely “ignored” OCD morphed into obvious germaphobia.

That period was so hard on all of us, but it also led to deep healing. We couldn’t justify or downplay my behavior anymore. I wasn’t simply focused or particular. When life became challenging and darkness pressed in, it squeezed out my inner gunk that we had learned to ignore.

We could’ve become suffocated by the darkness. Instead, by God’s grace, we linked arms, turned to Jesus, and steadily sought and followed His light. And His light indeed broke through in such a beautiful, life-giving way. While this didn’t eliminate our pain, that period changed us, for the better.

Speaking of Jesus, John 1:4-5 says, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (NIV).

Jesus didn’t come during a rosy time in history. Lives were ravished by King Herod’s infanticide, Roman oppression, poverty, hunger, and leprosy with the lifelong isolation that accompanied it. But God was doing a mighty work not even the most powerful tyrannical ruler or most devastating disease could halt. He was bringing life to the dead and piercing the darkness with light (John 8:12).

The Pharisees couldn’t see this. They were blinded, distracted by the darkness; the darkness within themselves, yes, but also all the oppression and uncertainty in their world. All they could see was what they might lose, should this faith-movement continue: their prestigious roles as religious leaders, their already tenuous relationship with the Roman authorities, their way of life (John 11:47-48). They couldn’t, or maybe wouldn’t, see the light—the gift of life and freedom Christ offered.

No matter what 2021 brings, I refuse to be like them. I refuse to become so engulfed in today’s challenges that I fail to see God’s light breaking through. Because I know it’s there. It always is, a light that nothing, not the pain of today or the uncertainty of tomorrow, can extinguish.               

How is God’s light breaking through your circumstances this month? And perhaps more importantly, how can you seek out and hold tight to that light when dark circumstances hit?

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Join Jennifer and her Wholly Loved Ministry team for an online mother-daughter conference for moms of teen through adult daughters. The mother-daughter relationship can be one of the most precious connections we experience, but they can also be a source of conflict and pain. Wholly Loved Ministries wants to help moms and daughters love one another well and experience the deep connections their hearts crave. Through personal anecdotes, biblical truths, and thought-provoking discussion questions, this event equips moms and daughters to cultivate the depth of relationship God Himself wants them to experience. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Have you seen God’s light breaking through in this challenging season?