The Truth We Can No Longer Deny Since the Pandemic

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“‘And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.’”                                                                                                                  Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Here’s what’s clear to us in June that may have eluded us in January: each one of us impacts more lives than we ever imagined.

A microscopic virus has illustrated that a single touch can affect worldwide change. We are viral in scope – no matter how small we feel.

The idea that our individual lives are insignificant is a convenient illusion we Christians often embrace to comfort ourselves when the prospect of representing Jesus feels overwhelming, or our failures make us seem ineffective.

Jesus was God. He came into the world thousands of years before social media and took on human form – one man. His disciples could barely agree on how to secure lunch prior to the cross, but after the cross, as witnesses of the resurrection, they went viral.

Peter, James, John, Paul, Mary and the rest could not have imagined the scope of their testimonies, but I don’t get the impression from the New Testament that they wasted much time fretting over it.

They devoted their lives to telling others the truth they knew. They lived so that the Holy Spirit had free reign to work through them, and every person they touched made a choice to accept that truth or reject it. And here we are.

Each of us is so potent, our enemy has had to flood the air with the lie that we don’t matter. This pandemic reminds us that we do.

From the most powerful world leader to the homeless beggar who has forgotten her own name, we have the same potential to pass on what we carry within us – sickness, cynicism, fear, doubt, corruption, evil, and death, or health, hope, life, light, love, and truth – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God, in His mercy, and us, if we’re paying attention, can transform this moment of global panic into the greatest resurgence of faith the world has ever seen. The only question is this – will we choose the comfort of the convenient delusion or will we choose the courage to go viral with the gospel?

Because we can no longer deny that we can.

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The Truth We Can No Longer Deny Since the Pandemic – 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: How will you carry life and light to those within your influence?

A Deeper Romance

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.”              Song of Solomon 2:10-11 ESV

Hollywood is rife with romantic notions and many of us have taken our cue from Tinseltown as to what qualifies.

It’s usually a flashy ordeal with diamonds, dancing and beautiful people in beautiful clothes. Romance, the movies tell us, is about gifts and musicians, flowers and fireplaces, fancy foods and fantastic footwork.

As our anniversary approaches every spring, my husband grumbles that I’m not a normal woman. If only my idea of romance lined up with Hollywood, it would be easier to woo and wow me!

On the one hand, I’m not that hard to please. On the other hand, it takes everything he has.

I don’t wish for diamonds or pearls; in fact, I’d prefer he not spend any money at all. What I want is his attention, a long walk, and a real conversation.

For me, it’s the relationship that creates the romance. Romance that works begins when we say, “good morning” and builds as we work through the daily challenges of paying bills and living life. It’s the together part that makes the romance happen. If we haven’t been together in overcoming the obstacles of the day, it’s impossible to impress me with a rose and cheesecake.

God is a romantic. You can tell by His extravagance and the lengths to which He goes to get our attention.

As I sat stewing once over my prayer time, frustrated that certain situations had not worked out to my desiring, I was determined to fret and scowl. As I read His Word, however, He whispered to me again about the depth of His love and reminded me of His unchanging character.

As I prayed, I looked out through the doors of my deck at the muted greens of the spring forest against the gray sky of a rainy day and marveled at His handiwork and the gift of this view. The greens and browns of the freshly budded woods were interrupted with flashes of blue or red or yellow as birds alighted on the feeders before returning to nests hidden in the trees. Their songs warbled and whistled to me as they grew bold through the camouflage of their platforms.

Ever so slowly, the romance of creation quieted my heart and spoke to my soul of a deeper relationship, wooing me to see beyond the transient troubles of the day to the great heart of God, to begin to ask for greater gifts than quick answers.

The God of Creation desires my attention, my attendance, my full focus. He crossed the greatest of divides and gave His only Son to bring me safely into His fold. Because He created me, He knows the secrets of my own soul better than I.

Just as Hollywood has many plastic notions of romance, so the world has many misconceptions about a relationship with God and often these ideas pollute my own thinking. He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s not the great wish-granter in the sky. He’s not about making my life easier or taking orders for my best life now.

He is about a deeper story, a greater adventure, an eternal romance that began before I was born and will continue into a place where there will be no more false notions, no Hollywood hoaxes, no cheap imitations of grace. And He wants me beside Him on this adventure.

On the one hand, it’s not that hard. On the other hand, it takes everything I have.

The romance of God calls to me and I will follow into the deep, deep heart of the greatest story ever told.

TWEETABLE
A Deeper Romance – thoughts on #GodsLove 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: How has God romanced you lately?

Five Ways to Be an Older Woman Younger Women Can Hear

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.                                   Titus 2:2-3 ESV

They won’t listen.

Women of a certain age worry about the generations coming up behind. We know we have a biblically ordained responsibility to teach younger women, but we flounder.

There’s a lot I don’t know about reaching the next generation, but we must start somewhere.

Here are five ways to be older women younger women can hear.

  • Live a Great Story – If the only Jesus-story or testimony you share is three decades old, it’s time to update your God-card. If you’re living for Jesus, there should be fresh stories. If there aren’t, check in with a mature believing friend and ask God to refresh your assignment. Genuine, mature faith deepens like wine. Religious practice alone, like old bread, grows stale. Younger women yearn to be part of a great story. Older women living one will earn their attention. Invite them to join you.
  • Vision Forward, Not Back –Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Refuse to walk in the path of Lot’s wife – so busy looking back you risk being left behind. Travel light into tomorrow. Jesus is in this day and where He is is where we need to be, even when times are hard. God designed you and assigned you to be an older woman in these times. If your focus is the eternal adventure stretching before us, your eyes will be full of light. We may not share a similar past with younger generations, but we share today, and we could be friends into eternity, so keep your vision focus forward.
  • Know Something About the Culture – Seriously, watch a movie made in the past five years. Check out a television show that’s not on TVLand or MeTV. Read a best-seller. Explore modern happenings. If God called you to the mission field, you’d explore the culture. He’s called you to the next generations. Explore their culture – and not like it’s a smelly fish – like it’s a fascinating puzzle. Invite younger women over to binge watch a show or listen to their favorite musical artists. Trade off watching one of their favorite movies followed by one of yours. Start a book club. Be teachable, accepting, and curious. That’s a combination that is the foundation of role models. Laugh easily. Love generously. Re-invent old age.
  • Be Vulnerable, Available, and Present – No matter how old we get, we’re sinners saved by grace alone. As we mature, we begin to get some things right, but we still fail. We don’t know everything. Forget the fake. Park your pretense. Let your vulnerability surface. Be emotionally available and wholly present. Listen. Ask questions. Younger women don’t want someone who’s perfect, they want someone who’s present.
  • Finally, keep growing up. We may be seniors, but in the light of eternity, we’ve only just begun. In 2 Peter 1:1-10, Peter lists eight qualities (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love) that if we have them in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus. Make every effort to grow in these qualities and we’ll be effective and fruitful with the generations on the rise. We lose a lot as we age. Here are some things to intentionally lose for the sake of building the kingdom in younger women – fear, a critical spirit, inflexibility, arrogance, hypocrisy, and pretense.

No matter our age, we each contribute to the culture of women in the kingdom of Christ. What does it look where you stand for Him?

TWEETABLE
Five Ways to Be an Older Woman Younger Women Can Hear – tips for impacting the generation 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: Were you ever mentored in your younger years? What meant the most to you from that time together?

 

Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3 ESV

I have witnessed incredible courage in my times – bravery on the battlefield of childhood.

Times when adults stood around muttering that “someone should do something” until a child, full of love, tugged the sword out of their stone hearts and became king of love and reason.

An eight-year-old alone in a room of professionals, speaking up to say, “We’re not safe at home. Please don’t make us go back there.” Then, taking up her mother’s hand, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I love you, but you’re not protecting us.”

A ten-year-old boy who leapt to his feet in a living room crowded with adults and shouted, “Ha! Mom, I knew that was wrong, even though you said it was okay for me to ride in the trunk of the car. It is wrong, isn’t it?”

I nodded my head as I watched his mind make connections like a pinball machine the moment after the quarter drops. “And, I bet it’s not okay for me steal stuff for you! Mom, I think you believe you love me, but you’re doing it way wrong.”

Then, he turned to the relatives sitting in the room. “And you guys! How come you aren’t saying anything to her? I’m a kid. Grown-ups are supposed to watch out for kids.”

Or the thirteen-year-old girl who sat across a kitchen table and looked me square in the eye. “Why should I tell you anything about my hopes and dreams? You’re like the fifteenth old lady to sit in this kitchen and act like you know something that might help us. Why don’t you ask my dad his hopes and dreams? If you start working on that, we might actually get somewhere, but that’s a lot harder than sittin’ with a thirteen-year-old, isn’t it?”

Sometimes love is a hard conversation.

Don’t tell a kid in your ministry you love them in the name of Jesus, unless you’re willing to sit with their parents and talk when you suspect things aren’t right at home.

Don’t tell a young woman you love her, and then suggest she stay quiet when she says that a church leader made her feel uncomfortable with his words or his hands.

Don’t tell a young wife to go home, pray, and be a better wife, when she confides about her husband’s unexpected rages, drinking, pornography, or abusive words.

When your friend gossips in the guise of a prayer request, don’t just walk away and feel self-righteous that “at least you’re not like her.”

To be like Jesus is to love like a child.

A child sees no conflict between loving someone and telling them the truth.

A child sees no dissonance in loving a person and saying hard things to them.

A child knows that if someone doesn’t stand up to people doing wrong things, they’ll keep doing them.

A child knows how to love someone and still tell them they have to stop hurting other people.

Children learn from the people doing wrong to silence themselves, to hide, to cower, and to embrace helplessness. Jesus calls out the child in us to unlearn these ways for these are the ways of the sinful world.

Jesus demonstrated that sometimes love is a hard conversation. Just look at what He said to the Woman at the Well, the hypocritical Pharisees, or to Judas at the Last Supper.

Let love incite us to speak truth into our own lives and to choose love even when it would be easier to stay silent. This is the way of light. Sin, pain, and all manner of evil flourish in the darkness.

Our words can be light, against which, the darkness will not prevail.

TWEETABLE
Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation – encouragement 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: Can you recall a time when a child fearlessly expressed the truth?

 

 

 

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?

 

A Bad Diagnosis

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:16-17 ESV

My husband and I used to love watching House. You remember the medical drama about the damaged but brilliant doctor who solves medical mysteries that elude other doctors? He was usually the last hope for his patients and because of that, unlike other medical shows where a patient is devastated to receive a dire diagnosis; these patients welcome the life-altering news.

Why would anyone welcome a bad diagnosis?

It’s because the patients have suffered with symptoms that they know are real. They’ve tried dozens of other avenues for treatment and cure. Usually, the incorrect treatment was not only ineffective for solving their problem; it created more problems and sometimes threatened their lives.

The correct diagnosis, even if it is a terrible one, is better than suffering in the dark.

My husband’s life became a real-life House episode for over five years. He battled a mystery illness and pursued courses of treatment that created more problems than they cured. When we prepared to visit a new doctor to receive test results, we’d be more devastated to have no answers than we would if we were receiving news of a life-threatening disease with a name.

My college professor used to say “the facts are our friends; truth is always on our side no matter what that truth is.” An inaccurate diagnosis, a wrong course of treatment, false hopes – these are the enemies – not the truth.

Which is why most Christians were relieved to learn the condemning news that they are sinners with no hope of saving themselves.

See, we knew something was wrong inside us. We suffered from the symptoms but could not find the cause no matter where we looked. And boy, did we look!

We pursued all kinds of false diagnoses. We tried every self-help treatment available and followed each healer who told us they knew the cure for what ailed us. Those false cures were not only ineffective; they created more problems, some of them life-threatening.

Then, one day, someone told us they knew what was wrong with us. That person may have exhibited compassion, or they may have been as cold as Dr. House, but they knew the truth about our condition – we were sinners with no hope of saving ourselves, facing a sentence of death.

Rather than be offended or devastated by the news, we were relieved to hear the truth that somehow, we already knew. We’d suffered the symptoms of our sinful condition for so long we were ready for the cure.

And THAT was the good news. The cure was available for us. We could be healed by trusting Jesus Christ with our lives. No longer did we have to search bookstores and drugstores, gurus and shamans, backrooms or bedrooms for treatments that only quieted the symptoms but did nothing to touch the disease. Now we were free to pursue the effective treatment available through a relationship with the God of the universe.

Just like on House, for some the evidence of the cure was immediate, for others it took time, but the Great Physician has a 100% survival rate among those who are willing to receive the truth and trust His prescription for their lives.

Not only is the survival rate 100%, but the effects are extended release – they extend into eternity.

TWEETABLE
A Bad Diagnosis – encouragement 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: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?

Why the Church Loves So Badly

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

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

Once I did something badly until I achieved success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why the Church Loves So Badly – insight and encouragement from @LoriSRoeleld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: When has God used your fumbling attempts to reach others for Him?

 

 

Love in the Age of Suppression

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.                                                                                                                                                   Matthew 24:12 ESV

If you’re looking to the Bible for morality stories, it will leave you frustrated.

Oh, it’s loaded with stories and occasionally there’s a person in that story making a right choice, but three stories later, that same person may be choosing the wrong way. In fact, in many biblical stories, everyone is wrong.

That’s because the Bible is a book of truth, not fables written to teach children to stay out of the woods.

God’s not into heroes. Our faith isn’t built on the notion that there’s a group of us capable of living properly if we just have the right role models, education, and information. It’s not designed to promote a fear-based morality, or a moral-of-the-story method of soul-control.

The Bible is a mirror into the human soul, designed to reveal the truth of our glorious design, the truth of our fallen nature, and the truth of God’s loving, redemptive plan. It’s frustrating if you’re hoping for a “nice read.” There are down-right ugly stories told within its pages.

Which makes it the perfect book for our times.

We live in the age of suppression. The times when lawlessness is so rampant, we’re tempted to let our love grow cold.

Romans 1 explains that when people choose to live exactly the way they feel like living, regardless of how that lines up with the plan of their Creator, their actions suppress truth. When truth is suppressed, deception seeps in over the transom like a toxic gas. Lies create a climate hostile to love. And love cannot be divorced from truth or it has no spine. Hence, the danger of our times.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that among humans, there is no one righteous, no, not one, and the only way of salvation is through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is life for all who believe it.

The gospel doesn’t make us heroes or good guys or moral kings—it makes us recipients of grace, living by faith in Jesus, until He returns. Our salvation doesn’t rely on right living but on the person of Jesus, and only Jesus.

Which brings me to love in the age of suppression.

Jesus continues to call His followers to love, even when truth is suppressed, and deception is the visible king. How can we be expected to rise to this calling? Isn’t it impossible to love when everyone is doing whatever they want?

It is. Without Jesus, that is. Don’t try it without Him. That’s like wandering onto a battlefield without armor.

If we attempt to love with our own resources, they’ll deplete in a heartbeat. We’ll wind up dead on the doorstep of false religion, cut into pieces, a signal to other fools that they should send their own hearts into a deep freeze.

Instead, we must follow the way of Jesus. Lay our lives at the cross. Immerse ourselves in His story—His truth. Through His power, empty our minds of hatred and fear. Open our hearts to His Holy Spirit who will love others through us with a love that can withstand the times.

There’s nothing easy about loving in the age of suppression. Wounds are a near certainty, but we can resist growing cold because we were designed and equipped for such a time as this.

In times of immorality and deception, truth must marry love and give birth to life. That’s Jesus. Even when other hearts grow cold, He will warm ours with His own blood, poured out for us, and we’ll find courage to love even against the icy, prevailing wind of the age.

TWEETABLE
Love in the Age of Suppression – 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 been wounded while trying to love?

When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”                                                                                                            Hebrews 11:36-40 ESV

Don’t you just love Charlie Brown?

His big, old, round head, and his black dot eyes. His sober approach to the trials of daily life and his wise but innocent perspective? Charlie seems to exist in a dimension just one degree apart from all the other kids – separated by an invisible shield. One that keeps him from kicking footballs, but also helps him see what others cannot.

Remember Charlie Brown on Halloween? He is trick-or-treating with his friends, but when comparing their candy sacks after each house the other kids exclaim, I got a popcorn ball! I got a chocolate bar! I got gumdrops!

Then, poor Charlie – I got a rock. I can relate to Charlie Brown.

It’s hard to stand by while others receive exactly what they are requesting or hoping to find or need while you’re holding a sack full of rocks. But sometimes, that’s how life works – even when we love Jesus.

When disasters strike, there are stories of miracles, people who should have been harmed, but were somehow delivered. Praise God for that!

But there are also stories of those who fell victim to tragedy, were caught in the crossfire, lost precious loved ones in the storm. And how hard is it to praise God when the miracle passed over the one you love only to land on another? It’s hard as rock.

Or, perhaps you’ve worked towards a dream, knowing it’s a dream from God – a vision, a goal, a ministry, an art. And you thought you knew where it was going. Believed it was blessed – prayed over – inspired. And you have poured everything into the endeavor.

But the finish line eludes you, or worse, it seems to be disappearing all together. You find yourself on the sidelines watching others called out onto the field, crossing the finish line, achieving the dream while you sit by holding a bag of rocks. How hard is that? Hard as rock.

But, what gift does Charlie Brown give us? This little cartoon with a soul. His story makes us feel less alone in a crazy world. His perseverance inspires us to carry on. His disappointments help us see that often there is more to life than getting exactly what we want.

Through Charlie Brown, we are drawn to the mystery of grace. The grace of a God who pours out His love in ways we sometimes miss while we’re standing at His door asking for what we want.

And Charlie Brown reminds us that there is a bigger story. While the other children were busy about their lives, Charlie stands there with a sack full of rocks and moves us to ask the greater questions.

It’s hard to be Charlie Brown. It’s painful to watch others rejoice or receive while we stand there wanting, grieving, lacking, struggling, waiting. The temptation is to become bitter or to assume we’ve been rejected or that we are unseen. When really, God has simply written us a role that moves us – and others – to ask the greater questions. It’s a role that is hard as rock.

But Jesus was the first rock – the cornerstone – and on Peter the rock, Christ built His church, and we are all living stones. So, we are not alone.

Did you get a rock? I know it’s hard – but take it to Jesus who has held that same rock and praise God, dear Charlie Brown, praise God.

TWEETABLE
When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag – encouragement 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?

 

 

Deep Sleep, Deep Faith

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2 ESV

Nights come when we just can’t sleep, right? Like awake at three am playing spider solitaire and watching documentaries on the History channel not sleeping. It makes a person think. Usually about sleep.

Ever look up “sleep” in the Bible? There are a bunch of verses where “sleep” has nothing to do with the act of sleeping but rather directions with whom we should NOT sleep. Not the topic of this post. Then there are verses where sleep has to do with death, as in “we shall not all sleep”. Also not the topic of this post.

There are, however, actual verses about people sleeping – where people of the Bible lie down at night, close their eyes and rest. That’s what this post is about. Actual sleep. Because, if we lie awake and think about it, sleep was quite an act of faith in Biblical times.

Lying down to sleep could result in death and disaster.

While Samson slept, Delilah tipped off his enemies about his whole hair secret (He might have done well to pay attention to those verses about who we should NOT sleep with). While King Saul slept, his enemy crept close enough to kill him. A military leader named Sisera was lured to sleep by Jael, and she drove a tent peg through his head (again, should have checked the passages on acceptable bed partners!) And a young man in the New Testament fell asleep during a sermon – falling out of a window and needing to be revived by Paul (I think I’ve heard that sermon). Anyway, sleeping was risky business.

Men of faith, however, not only managed to sleep, but God was active in their lives as they slept.

When Adam awoke from deep sleep, God had fashioned a woman for him! It was while Abraham slept that God introduced Himself and gave him the orders to relocate to a prime piece of real estate by the sea. When Jacob slept, He dreamed of a stairway to heaven – thus blessing future generations (and Led Zeppelin). When Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, slept, God let Him know His girl had been true and gave Him the green light to trust her crazy story.

Even Jesus slept. As a dangerous storm raged around the boat carrying the men with whom He’d entrusted the gospel, He napped in the bow. Of course, He woke up, spoke up and ended the weather event before disaster – one of the coolest miracles recorded! But, my point is, that He was able to sleep in the midst of turmoil, high seas, and seasoned fisherman screaming like little girls!

You and I don’t have to worry about tent pegs or barbarian invasions while we sleep, but with all the pressures of our lives, sleep can feel like an act of indulgence.

We stay up late and rise early, trying to keep our lives afloat in very stormy seas, and we get irritated with God because He never seems to get uptight enough about the impending doom on our horizon. More times than not, Jesus says (I’m paraphrasing), Have faith and catch some Z’s. You don’t keep the world spinning, I do. That’s why I invented sleep, so you’d have a nightly reminder that there is a time to rest and let Me work.

Ultimately, sleep is an act of faith even now. Others should be saying about us: “Who are all those well-rested people? How do Christians have time to rest?”

Want to exercise your faith today? Go take a nap.

TWEETABLE
Deep Sleep, Deep Faith – 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: Do you ever struggle with sleep?