Got Milk. Need Meat?

by Lori Hynson 

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.                                                  Hebrews 5:13-14  (NLT)

 Pediatrician visits with my kids always included measuring their progress on a growth chart. From birth, their height, weight, food intake, and motor skills were recorded to ensure good progress.

If so inclined, God could chart our spiritual progress in much the same way. When we accept Jesus, God delivers us once again as newborn spirits, feeding and nourishing us in His Word as we begin to grow and mature, first on milk, and later on meat as we grow in Him.

In my family of “sort of” believers, we only attended church for weddings, funerals and, inexplicably, to have our babies Christened.

When I was just out of high school, a teen pregnancy and shotgun wedding made me strive to prove I could still be a somebody. I ran myself ragged for years to prove my superior abilities, convinced this would win the approval I craved.

When 9/11 happened, I decided church might not be a bad idea. Besides, since I wanted to sing gospel, I could multitask! In super fashion I joined a church, accepted Jesus, and was baptized because I thought you were “supposed to.”

My chart may have announced my new birth at age 47, but my growth would be stunted for the next four years. I now had a pencil mark drawn on God’s doorframe, but nothing else about me or my lifestyle changed. The new me was born, but my old self-y self refused to move out. Forget feeding on milk. I survived on prenatal vitamins.

Four years later, when a storm blew into my life, I tried, as usual, to fix the situation on my own. When that failed, I prayed for God to approve my plans but got no response. When I finally found myself in the worst trouble I’d ever faced, God grabbed His spiritual forceps and delivered me. Helpless. Wailing. And flat on my face.

Now that He had my attention, God told me it was time for self-y me to get lost and to find Him instead. Trust in Him alone. I agreed, and God began to feed me His milk. But in order for me to grow higher and deeper, it was time to start solid food. Time to open wide!

I read, and He fed. He showed me the worldly lies in my life that had to go—like believing that I could rely on myself alone in life, or that I could control my circumstances. He countered the lies with His Truths. He carried away the me-things and filled me with desire for more Him-things.

At last I moved from milk to solid, life-giving meat. In the last decade, I’ve grown in spiritual height, weight, and depth, reaching ever more for the Jesus in me.

Hebrews 5:13-14 tells us that the solid food we find in God’s Word is the nourishment that supplies the depth to know right from wrong, according to His standards. Too bad the malnourished me didn’t recognize that I needed a whole lot more meat a whole lot sooner. The knowledge gained by mature me could have spared immature me a whole lot of pain.

Has your spiritual growth been stunted by sticking to the easy-to-swallow milk of God? Like me, maybe you haven’t noticed that you’ve stopped thriving on a diet of just milk. We might believe we’ve already reached our growth destination, or we’re simply stumped as to how to get there.

Got milk? Need meat.

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Got Milk. Need Meat? – insight from Lori Hynson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori HynsonAbout the author: Lori Hynson is a Recovering SuperGalaholic, author, speaker, Bible teacher, and singer. Her life ministry is to encourage women to recognize and be healed of their self-imposed SuperGal burdens, to find God’s abundant peace and contentment through His Word, and embrace the freedom they can experience daily in their new life in Christ.

Lori’s book, SuperGal vs. God, is the story of a woman who was convinced she could control everything life threw her way. Until she couldn’t fix the one thing that mattered most. A Bible study/book club guide on the truths in this story is also available.

Lori and her husband have five children, thirteen grandchildren, and enjoy living near Valley Forge, PA with their cats Wednesday and Natasha.

Join the conversation: How do you get real meat into you?

My Tarnished World of Wonder

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 1 Corinthians 13:11  (VOICE)

When I was five years old, I had a front yard filled with wonderful secrets, like the enchanted oak tree. I discovered what looked like a tiny doorknob made of an old staple in the base of the tree. I spent hours imagining the tiny fairies using that doorknob in the deep of the night, so they could come out and dance on my lawn. Then there were the glorious azalea bushes that would burst forth in lush pink pedals just in time to celebrate the risen Savior and serve as the backdrop for my mother’s annual Easter photos. My front yard served as the setting of epic games of hide and seek, adventures of the walkie-talkie spies, and our amazing cowboy shootouts.

My old pit-pull dog ruled the yard, serving guard over us kids, and sometimes even killing the venomous copperheads that hid beneath the house. I marveled at the great oaks that stood like sentries after surviving many hurricanes in time. I’d often wondered if their old knotholes were scars left behind from the flying bullets of a Civil War battle waged a hundred years before I was born.

Not long ago, my husband and I drove through our Texas hometown and decided to drive past the old place that loomed so large in my memories. When we pulled up to the old house, we were amazed at how much remained the same. There, still intact, were the hurricane sentries, the old azalea bushes, and the front porch that the neighbor kids transformed into a stage for our talent ‘shows’.

However, the yard didn’t look as I remembered it. It looked small, shabby, and not at all like the place of wonder that I remembered.

My husband and I were taken aback. This was the cherished place of all of my dear, most precious memories?

Time has a way of tarnishing and shrinking the old places we idolized as children. My perspective had changed from that of a tiny child to the viewpoint of an adult.

Time may have a way of giving us new perspectives, but so does maturity in the Lord. For when we look at life’s disappointments, difficulties, and trials, our eyes may want to focus on the ugly pain and bitterness. But when we look at these same circumstances through the eyes of God’s love and grace, we will begin to notice His life-changing potential and miracles everywhere.

Paul wrote about a mature perspective in his letter to the Corinthians. “When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind” (1 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE). Knowing Jesus and the love of God gives us a whole new viewpoint on both our earthly home and gives us hope for our future in heaven.

May we continue to look at our world through the eyes of God’s love and discover His wonder on every face, difficulty and relationship.

Put the childish behaviors and attitudes away and grow into the wonder of God’s loving perspective of your life and world, and you will find awe in the beauty of his amazing care.

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My Tarnished World of Wonder – @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: When have you been able to adjust your perspective?

Impatient with the Process

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The year my husband spent abroad after graduating college, he taught for several months at a Bible school in the Fiji Islands. There was a missionary there who was much-revered for his wisdom and excellent teaching. After one particularly inspiring class, the students surrounded the godly man and asked: how long did it take him to prepare for such a profound lesson?

The old missionary smiled at the eager students. “Oh, about 45 years and a half-hour,” he told them.

Some things take time. A long time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a godly Christian. Yet often, we struggle with impatience at our lack of maturity. Why can’t we be wiser with our words? When will we ever feel confident in our Bible knowledge? Will there come a time when our foolishness is at an end?

When are we finally going to get it all together?

A look at scriptural examples of God’s time frame in transformation to maturity can also be discouraging. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the Pharaoh’s palace. Then, after murdering an Egyptian guard, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he remained for forty more years. It wasn’t until Moses was the ripe old age of 80 that God called him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Then there is the story of David. The prophet Samuel anointed him to be the next king when he was quite young, still tending the family sheep out in the fields. While David knew what the future held for him, few others did. Life did not change quickly for David after the anointing. But eventually King Saul saw him as a threat, forcing David to flee into the wilderness. There he remained in exile for many years, continually pursued by Saul and his army. It was a long wait before God would finally fulfill His promise.

Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry. For forty days, He fasted and endured temptations flung at Him by Satan.

Clearly, preparation takes time. And it is in the wilderness that God often does His most important work in preparing people for their purpose.

Why the long wait in the wilderness for each of these future leaders? The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue (in reference to Jesus): “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB).

Jesus perfected His obedience through experiencing suffering in the wilderness, as did Moses and David.

Being in the wilderness, with its isolation and difficulties, can have a valuable outcome. Through our experience there, we see the reality of just how much we need Him. When we do, it is only then that we are best equipped to do His work: our hearts fully open to His leading and ready to choose His will over our own.

Time in the wilderness grows us into much more effective servants. Paul learned this when dealing what he considered to be a thorn in his flesh. “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me,” he wrote. “And He has said to me, ‘My power is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NASB). Paul learned the power of Christ through his “wilderness” experience.

Are you suffering in the wilderness today? Hang in there. God is doing a work in you as you wait on Him. Someday you will be able to look back and see what He accomplished in you during that time. And you will count it worth the cost.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.                                                                                     Philippians 1:6 NASB

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Impatient with the Process – 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 look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God used a wilderness experience to transform you?

Peace in the Process

by Ashley Lauren McClain

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

This has always been one of my favorite verses. God first said those words to His people, who were living in exile in Babylon as a punishment for turning away from Him to worship idols. He said them to give the people hope: their exile would not last forever. In seventy years, He would bring them back to their homeland. “I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back… For I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The same God who promised good to His people, even while they were in the middle of experiencing His judgment, is the God I serve. He loves His people perfectly and will never abandon us, and always has our good in mind. This thought fills me with so much hope and excitement that this big dreamer girl’s heart has taken and run with it!

But in the process of sprinting ahead, I have sometimes found myself exhausted and disappointed. Why? I believe I have finally figured out two answers to that question.

The first is in the very first words. The Lord says He knows the plans HE has for us. He is not confirming the plan we have for ourselves. Nor are His intentions determined by the expectations others have on us. God’s plans are exceedingly and abundantly greater than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

Again, my big dreamer hearts loves this…but there is a second caveat. God also has His own time table for when He will bring those plans to fruition. His timing is perfect, which means often we find ourselves impatiently waiting for Him to act.

Not yet. Those two words are the source of so much struggle and angst in my life! Not yet. After getting myself in line with His agenda, finally being willing to lay down my plans and go with His, the only thing I hear is Not Yet. Seriously?

But when I finally decide to end the personal pity party, I remember that He most often works through a process, a much-needed process, which will grow our faith and bring us to maturity.

And if we can walk with Him in the midst of that process, we can find peace.

Peace in the process also comes from understanding that there is no title, job, or calling that will define us. The Lord alone defines us. Our greatest joy and highest calling in our lives is to follow Christ and share His love with others. I need to come to a place where I desire His name to be known more than mine.

I have learned that if I will determine to trust Him for my life, even though it may look totally different than what I thought it would be… I can have peace knowing it will be so much more fulfilling and better than anything I could have dreamed of for myself.

As you begin your day today, join me in laying down those unrealistic expectations. Rather than striving and chasing, concentrate on walking with Him, and truly live the peace-filled, abundant life that He has planned.

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Peace in the Process – insight from Ashley Lauren McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life we have been given by the greatest Gift Giver there is! She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleymcclain.org. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: Can you recall a time when you experienced peace in the process? Please share!

The More We Learn, the Less We Know

by Deb DeArmond

Have you ever observed the evolution of how our children think about us as they move through life? The story goes like this…….

  • At age 5, the little boy says, “That’s my dad! He’s the smartest man in the whole world.
  • At 10 years old, he says, “That’s my dad. He’s a really smart guy!”
  • The pre-teen at 12 says, “My dad is okay.”
  • At 15, he warns, “That’s my dad. He’s a total idiot – just ignore him.”
  • At 20, he says, “My dad’s not a total loser.”
  • At 30, the young man says, “My dad might know.”
  • At 40, the adult son says, “I’m gonna ask my dad what he thinks.”
  • “I’m not making a decision till I talk to my old man,” the mid-life man of 50 says.
  • At 60, he says sadly, “Man I wish my dad was still alive. He’d know what to do.”

If you’ve ever been down this road with your children, you know it can be a challenging place. As teenagers, kids really do believe they know all that needs to be known. You have to be a lot older to know what you don’t know.

How does that happen? As youth, our sphere of life is very limited. And then life happens and moves us beyond our zone of the familiar. Maturity develops from the lessons that our mistakes teach us.  And at some point, we get that flash of understanding: I know very little and have so much growing left to do.

 The more we learn, the greater our realization is of how much we still don’t know.

The Word of God warns us to be careful about self-aggrandizing assessments:

“What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever” Isaiah 5:21 (NLT).

“There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise” Proverbs 26:12 (NLT).

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” Proverbs 12:15 (NLT).

“At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” Matthew 11:25 (NLT).

Just as it blesses us as parents when our children seek knowledge and are open to learning, the same is true with our Heavenly Father. A teachable spirit, one that desires wisdom, blesses Him. And as we grow in the knowledge of Him, the more we realize there is much still to learn.

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.   1 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When did you reach the understanding of how much more there was to learn?