Fear Is a Toxic Roommate

by A.C. Williams

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  1 John 4:18 NLT

Have you ever lived with a roommate? It’s an art, and it takes years of practice to get right. There’s push and pull, as with any sort of relationship. You have to learn to compromise on some things.

But what if your roommate is toxic? What if they never give back and only take? What if they only care about their own comfort? Roommates like that don’t clean up after themselves, spread their junk into spaces that don’t belong to them, and never let you have a moment’s peace.

Toxic roommates are the worst, but if you’re in that situation, you usually have opportunities to escape. But what if that roommate isn’t a person? What if your toxic roommate is fear?

We all have to deal with fear on some level. Anxiety and stress are normal parts of life, but something happens to our mindsets when we actually live with fear.

When we allow fear to live in our hearts, it takes over everything. Maybe it starts small, but it doesn’t stay small. Fear expands and spreads into every nook and cranny in your heart and mind and life, so that you can’t do anything without a battle for control. When fear is living in your heart, all you have room for in your life is anxiety.

It’s not a sin to experience fear. Everyone does. But it becomes a problem when you make decisions because of fear. When you do that, you’ll turn away from God’s best because you’re afraid of what you might lose. 

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel forfeited the extraordinary destiny God had for them because they were afraid (Numbers 13:31 – 14:4). Over and over and over, the Israelites defied God, complained about Him, complained to Him, rebelled against Him—all because they were scared. They clung to fear because it was easier than obeying the God who had saved them.

Sound familiar?

It does to me. Fear is something I’ve struggled against for my entire life, and I have only found one weapon strong enough to defeat it:

Love.

When your life overflows with God’s love, there’s no room for fear (1 John 4:18). When God’s love is in control, fear loses its power.

So when you experience fear, instead of letting it put down roots, remember who God is. Be intentional in recalling what He’s done for you, and be specific in thanking Him for it. The fear may not completely go away, but you’ll be astounded at the peace you experience in spite of it.

Accepting God’s perfect love is a direct link to God’s peace. When God’s peace rules your heart rather than your fear (Colossians 3:15), you’ll find that the noise and chaos of the world fades away. Instead of being bothered and anxious about everything the world finds terrifying, the only concern you’ll have is obeying (Isaiah 8:12-13).

Stop clinging to your fear. No matter how easy it is, no matter how safe it makes you feel, God never intended us to live with fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Cling to Jesus instead. Only by trusting in His love will you have the power to evict fear from your heart.

Fear doesn’t pay rent anyway, and God’s peace is a much better roommate.

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

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks won’t match. An AWSA Golden Scrolls finalist and an editor at Uncommon Universes Press, she believes that God works miracles through stories. Learn more about her coaching services at www.amycwilliams.com and subscribe to her daily devotional emails at www.alwayspeachy.com. Amy is offering a special: the first seven days free, then $5/month. https://acwilliams.substack.com/arisedaily

Join the conversation. Does fear rule your life?

Run! Don’t Walk!

by Terri Gillespie

The Name of ADONAI [the LORD] is a strong tower. The righteous one runs into it and is set safely up high. Proverbs 18:10 TLV

When hubby, our daughter, and I lived in the Seattle area, my folks came out for a visit. My dad who was a serious workaholic, took a whole week off to visit. Which was a miracle in of itself.

Showing mom and dad around the area was a treat, but one of the highlights was having brunch at the Space Needle. The food was divine. The views from our table equally as magnificent. And since the restaurant part of the Space Needle rotated, we had multiple vistas to enjoy with our delicious food.

However, what was the most profound moment for all of us was going outside to the observation deck. The perspective was very different. Yes, we still saw the beauty of Puget Sound and the sky, but we could look down. Toy-like people and buildings and amusement park rides were below us.

The air seemed fresher—definitely more invigorating. The winds blew my daughter’s waist-length hair straight up in the air. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but it felt safe high above whatever was going on down below. Peaceful—even with the mighty winds.

In today’s verse in Proverbs, I love the image of our Heavenly Father being a strong tower. For a long time, I assumed the optimal time to run to the tower was when things were really bad. My “enemies” were advancing upon me. I needed to hide.

Actually, things don’t have to be bad before we hightail it to Him. To climb that tall tower.

Yes, we have a choice to run to the LORD at the first sight or sign of danger, fear, anger, need, want, loneliness, longing, temptation, desire, destruction — well, you get the idea. But we also can run to that tower to simply get a fresh perspective on life—our Father’s perspective. To be with Him.

We can separate ourselves in His quiet sanctuary and call on Him, or we can try to figure out problems with our relationships, work, children, etc., on our own based on our limited understanding—what is in our purview.

The world always looks different from a higher viewpoint, most certainly our Creator’s perspective. At that height, we see both the beauty of His Creation and the panorama of His opportunities for our life. We can leave the tower refreshed and with purpose. Or, just leave renewed.

So, when we encounter a problem or challenge, run — don’t walk — to our Father who is in heaven. Our strong, high, beautiful tower. Or just run to His “tower” to be closer to Him.

Dear precious and mighty Father, sometimes we forget we don’t have to figure everything out on our own. We jump into the fray around us, when we could be coming to You, our strong tower. Help us to come to You first when decisions and troubles arise, so we don’t have to run when things are really bad. And, remind us that we can run to You just because. Thank You. We love You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart again?

Join the conversation: When is the last time you went to “the high tower”?

Shine Your Light

by Virginia Grounds

The auditorium was dark as the band began to play softly. The star singer walked onto the stage and began to sing. The crowd went wild. One by one flashlights were lifted until the place was lit up like a Christmas tree. All the people there that night were inspired by secular music and artificial light. I was one of those people who didn’t see anything wrong with who I was exalting with my light.

But through the years, I learned about the true light and my life changed. In the gospel of John, Jesus identified himself as the Light of the World. It makes sense then that those who believe and receive Jesus into their lives would have his light within them. Knowing this helps us to understand Matthew 5:14-16. In this passage, Jesus is delivering what we call the Sermon on the Mount to his disciples. We can apply these truths to our lives, because as Christ followers, we are his disciples in this generation.

Jesus taught that his disciples are the light of the world. His instruction to let the light shine before others to glorify God is how we need to live. How does that happen? According to verse 16, it is through our good works. What are our good works? They are the works of faith, turning to God and occupying ourselves with those things assigned by God to us.

The light of Jesus is reflected through the peace he gives as we walk a rocky path. His light is reflected in the strength and courage he gives to press on. It is revealed through the wisdom he inspires, not the artificial light of the world. The love of Christ is the greatest light in our life.

We all have a ministry. Ministry is the service of believers in the work of the Gospel. As believers, we are to bear fruit for the kingdom in sharing the message of Christ with others. As we do, the light of his love shines through us for all to see, just as the city on a hill is not hidden. It is God’s purpose for us to allow others to see our faith in such a way that God is glorified.

The true light to lift is Jesus. He is the One to be exalted so that the light of his love is not hidden. He is the One who inspires us by his Spirit. We shine his light as we serve the Lord, love others, and share the Gospel. Does our light shine when our head is down with a frown on our face? Or, does our light shine when our head is lifted, we are smiling and allowing Jesus to love others through us? Yes!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 ESV

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

About the author: Virginia Grounds is a speaker, author, Bible Teacher, former radio host, and effective communicator. Her love for women’s ministry and passion for God’s Word have been an important part of serving for more than 30 years in ministry in one of the largest churches in America. Virginia served with her husband in full-time ministry helping to meet the needs of hurting people. This motivated her to write her first book, Facing Fears, Quenching Flames, a devotional book for overcoming fear and anger.

Rock Solid Trust: Trusting God When Life Is Hard by [Virginia Grounds]

Virginia writes to grow women in their faith and teach life lessons for survival in today’s world. She is married with three adult children and grandchildren. Her ministry website is majesticinspirations.com.

Join the conversation: On those days when we do not feel like loving others, what can we do to shine?

Where Does Jesus Stand in Our Moments of Shame?

by Mary Beth Powers

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10 NKJV

In the story of the adulteress woman, can you imagine how afraid she was to answer for her sin in front of the religious leaders and Jesus?

I imagine her standing with her head bowed in shame after being dragged through the streets and into the temple. The religious leaders shouted accusingly, “Look what this woman has done! What will you do about this, Jesus?”

They were trying to trap Him. If He quoted Mosaic Law about punishment for adultery, the Romans would come after Him. If He failed to condemn her act, the Jews would go against Him. So he answered their clever ruse with a simple statement: “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone!”

We use that verse to push back when we feel judged by others. But I find a bigger application, because I resonate with those feelings of shame.  

Some days I would just like to insert whatever failure I experienced that day into this Scripture. Things like words of condemnation I might have spoken over my spouse or the dismissing of a friend’s pain. Maybe even feeling sorry for myself. Some days I feel like a complete failure.

But I am certain I do not stand in my shame alone.

If I imagine myself standing in the presence of Jesus in my shame, what would he say to me? Because of his radical love, I imagine it would go something like this….

As we stand alone in the dirt, I am sure my feelings of inadequacy would rise in full force. I would feel exposed. Jesus would take off his cloak or robe and place it around me. I imagine standing in His shadow as He stands next to me. He will not leave me standing alone. He would stand with me. In those moments, close by His side, a feeling of safety would flood my soul.

“Like a shepherd, he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along” (Isaiah 40:11 NET).

This is not the first time God has wanted to cover us in our shame. Go back to the first time Adam and Eve mess up in the garden, and you will find Him covering them for the first time as they stood feeling exposed and in shame.  

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21 NLT

There are many times throughout His word He simply just wants to wrap His robe or yet his arms around us leaving with His peace, not shame. Jesus bore our shame on the cross. He covers us with His Righteousness is not the creator of shame.

It is our nature to want to hide from God, but we should never be afraid of standing before Jesus.

He does not dismiss the sin. It is in the presence of Jesus where our sin dissipates, and we become free of sin. Only through Jesus is where real forgiveness takes place.

The next time you feel shame in your sin try standing naked (vulnerable or humble) before Jesus and let Him cover you.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NET

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

About the author: Mary Beth speaks and writes with an open heart. She believes there is freedom in sharing our brokenness with each other. She loves to share her story of real heart transformation to freedom in Christ. Mary Beth and her husband are enjoying their new season of being first time grandparents.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the Lord’s presence during a shameful moment?

5-Step Strategy for Godly Living

by A.C. Williams

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. (Colossians 3:11 NLT)

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Christian Life Checklist? Imagine knowing for sure that the choices you’re making are in line with God’s Will! All you’d have to do is check them off the list.

Don’t change jobs. Check!

Don’t eat that cheesecake. Check!

Take your umbrella with you when you go on your walk. Check!

There’s a reason the Lord doesn’t get that specific with us, obviously. Everyone’s situation is different, and He never wants us to turn off our brains. But the more we get to know Him through studying His word, the better we can understand the strategies He has given us that guide us to make choices that align with His purpose for our lives.

It’s not a checklist, per se, but it is an awesome strategy to use when you’re making decisions. And the best part? Because Christ is alive in each of us, He’ll help us every step of the way.

5-Step Strategy for Godly Living (Colossians 3:12-17)

Imitate Christ’s attitude (v 12-13)

Most everyone has a hero who influenced the choices they’ve made. I certainly do. While having earthly heroes is perfectly fine, it’s good to remember that any human being you admire is still inherently flawed. The only person in your life who will never fail is Jesus, so basing your life after the way Jesus lived will never let you down.

Whatever choice you’re facing, try to make it the way Jesus would have. Is your choice merciful? Humble? Patient? Judge your life’s choices by that measure before you compare it to any human role model.

Let Love guide your life (v 14)

In spite of what our culture believes, Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice we have to make daily in how we relate to everyone around us. Sometimes Love doesn’t feel good at all.

Biblical love, the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love, is something that should be an essential part of every believer’s life, but it’s impossible to do without Jesus’ help.

Let peace rule in your heart (v 15)

Peace is something we all strive for, isn’t it? But peace isn’t just the absence of conflict. It’s calm confidence in spite of conflict. We can have peace no matter what situation we’re in because we can stand on Christ in confidence.

Share God’s Word (v 16)

The best way to get more familiar with God’s Word is to talk about it with others who love it. Share what you know. Ask questions. Read a daily devotional (like this one!) and engage in conversation about it. God’s Word is our source for wisdom, and when we are filled with God’s Wisdom, we can be confident in our next right step.

Live as Christ’s representative (v 17)

No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing, if you know Jesus, you are His representative to the world. Your world could be your neighborhood, your workplace, or even your own home. We always say “be Jesus,” but do we take that seriously? How would our lives change if we imagined that Jesus was by our side every step of the way? Newsflash, friends. He already is.

Following Jesus is a journey that takes us all a lifetime. None of us get it right all the time, but that’s why we have each other. Let’s support each other and encourage each other as we run after Jesus with everything we have!

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

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.

Amy has a special offer for her Always Peachy Devotionals: Free for 7 days and then $5 a month. https://acwilliams.substack.com/arisedaily

Join the conversation:  Which of these guidelines from Colossians seems most important to you?

A Word for the New Year

by Crystal Bowman

A few years ago, like many of my friends, I began the practice of choosing a word or phrase to focus on for a given year. Before I choose my “word” I think about it for a few days and ask for God’s direction. As I look ahead to 2022, I have a few events that will demand my time, attention, and more energy than I have. After much thought and prayer God brought a Bible verse to my mind, so I did a quick Google search to find the reference. “The Lord gives strength to his people. The Lord blesses his people with peace”(Psalm 29:11 NIRV).

Nothing could be more fitting for me to focus on than that verse! I need strength for what lies ahead, and I need peace knowing that God will equip me for what he has called me to do. So I guess I actually have two words this year—strength and peace.

With the events of the past two years, I have learned to be flexible. I have learned that my plans may fall through. I have learned that a loved one may become seriously ill, and some may die. I have learned that the only thing I can count on is God’s love, and that even when I cannot understand his ways, I can trust that his ways are best.

I know that everyone is hoping and praying for a happier and healthier year. Will 2022 bring an end to the pandemic? Will there be peace in the streets rather than riots? Will political issues continue to divide our nation? Will hate and racism continue to escalate? Of course, we don’t know the answers. But we do know that God is in control, and he is faithful to meet all of our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs in the coming year. He will give us strength and peace for what lies ahead.

I came across another Bible verse recently. John 1:1 (NIRV) says, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  The “word” is Jesus, who was with God from the beginning of creation, who left his throne in the heavens to come to earth in the form of a baby human. His earthly life began in a humble stable and ended on a wooden cross to pay for the sins of the world. His victory over death gives us victory over sin, pain, and sorrow. His resurrection gives us hope for eternal life with him and with our loved ones. Jesus is the word of life, the word of hope, and the word of peace.

I will focus on the words strength and peace in the days ahead, but the greatest word I can focus on is Jesus. He is the way to the Father, the truth that we seek, and the giver of eternal life. Jesus is the Word above all other words!

Here is what we announce to everyone about the Word of life. The Word was already here from the beginning. We have heard him. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him. Our hands have touched him. This life has appeared. We have seen him. We are witnesses about him. And we announce to you this same eternal life. He was already with the Father. He has appeared to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard. We do it so you can share life together with us. And we share life with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”. 1 John 1:1-3 NIRV

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: On what word will you focus in 2022?




A Beautiful Reminder

by Melissa Heiland

This morning, I went down to the beach to worship and study and spend time alone with my Jesus. It was very early, and I listened to the crashing of the waves as read and pondered and worried. Disturbing thoughts came unbidden to my mind bringing feelings of sorrow.

I thought about friends who had left without warning or explanation, family members who seemed uncaring. My mind was racing thinking about all the things that were on my list and all the people I wanted to please. I was listening to whispers of the enemy telling me that I was alone and unloved.

And then I looked up.

Sitting very still and incredibly close, was a beautiful snowy egret, a shore bird, spectacular in her beauty and glorious in her nearness to me. If I had extended my arm, I would have touched her.

In that moment, I remembered. I remembered the nearness of my Lord. He is always near, always close, always loving. In that moment, everything changed. My heart and mind were flooded with peace at the nearness of my Savior. How marvelous that my Jesus would love me so much, to send a bird to remind me that He is always with me.

All the issues that were consuming me still existed, but there was a shift in my spirit. In Psalm 46:10, we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am still in my heart and my mind, I can focus on the love and power of God. He sees me, loves me, and will take care of me. All my fretting is futile and even harmful.

1 Peter 5:6,7 teaches us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” We can cast all our anxious thoughts on Jesus because he cares for us. We do not need to hold them, to nurture them, to replay them endlessly in our minds. We have a Savior, a Savior who cares enough to die on the cross for us and to send me an unexpected messenger as a reminder of His love and care.

In John 14:27, we read, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is a gift given to us. Today, and every day, I want to live in His precious peace. I pray that you and I will be still and know.

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

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: What do you do to bring down high anxiety?

Resting upon His Shoulder

by Patti Richter

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

The words proclaim a good-news message set to music that much of the Western world either welcomes or tolerates each December.

Handel’s Messiah, theultimate Christmas (and Easter) composition, contains hopeful promises from the book of Isaiah, who foretold of the coming King whose reign would never end. God spoke through the prophet to a nation weary of sin, strife, and disappointing rulers. This sounds a lot like the world today.

While Christmas carols and concertos serve to temporarily dispel some of the gloom that plagues the nations, the Word of God provides long-lasting hope for humanity. Any meager outlook regarding peace, health, and freedom, gives way to a better view.

Isaiah continues with hopeful news indeed: “And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6 NKJV).

Some 700 years before the advent of the Messiah, Isaiah spoke words that must have disconcerted and raised eyebrows among God’s people: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV). They must have wondered when—and how—it would come about.

The prophet’s words, cast upon the waters of time, came ashore when the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin, Mary. (More eyebrows would be raised.) But those who love the story never grow weary of the announcement: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus…. and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31, 33 NKJV).

While we rejoice in the gift of God’s Son, his kingdom can seem far away and unresponsive to calamities here and abroad. We may grow anxious in frustrating circumstances. Like some of the early disciples, we long to see Jesus toss our enemies over his shoulder. We desire peace and security, along with assurances of freedom and prosperity.

Like those in Isaiah’s day who awaited the advent of the Savior, we look forward to our Savior’s return. We wonder when and how this will happen. Meanwhile, if we lose heart over the condition of our world, it may be that our hearts need to refocus on Jesus in the here and now, as he is “sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1 NKJV), with “all things in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8 NKJV).

The current Year of Our Lord will close out with serious unresolved issues, and the new year will surely produce fresh troubles. Yet one thing is certain:

Immanuel . . . God with us. Matthew 1:23 NKJV

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Do you cling to the hope we have in Jesus?

The Only Celebrity Who Matters

by A.C. Williams

Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. Isaiah 40:14-15 NLT

Do you know any celebrities? I’ve met a handful of famous authors, but for the most part, I just watch celebrity interviews on YouTube like everyone else. 

I follow a few actors on social media who I truly believe are the real deal. They live out a true, authentic faith, and from what those around them say, their faith has had an impact. They are great people. 

When I hear about someone who is great, I like to spread the word. Watch this movie. It’s great. Read this book. It’s great. Listen to this speaker. He’s great.

When you encounter greatness, don’t you feel the need to share it with others?

So… when was the last time you told someone how great God is?

I’m asking myself, too. Because I’ll be the first one to help promote a book or an entertaining movie, but when it comes to shouting about God’s greatness, I often get really quiet.

I don’t like conflict. I don’t enjoy rocking the boat. So I generally avoid topics that can potentially cause a stir. And God is really good at causing a stir (Luke 12:51). 

I won’t hesitate to tell someone I just met about the great book I just finished. But can I tell that same person that God put air in my lungs this morning, gave me taste buds to enjoy my coffee, legs to walk around and marvel at the beautiful autumn weather? Can I tell that person that God made the sun, the moon, the stars, caused the birds to sing and wind to blow (Isaiah 40:26)? That He keeps the Earth spinning like He keeps my heart beating, and that He cares about them both (Psalm 8:3-8)? 

You guys. God is great. He’s the only one who truly is. I apply the term too liberally. Only God deserves it (Mark 10:18).

Do you ever stop to think about His greatness? Do you ever take time to tell Him, to acknowledge how great He is? Do you ever marvel at His endless creativity, His unconventional sense of humor, and His relentless love? 

I don’t. Not as often as I should. And that’s got to change. As the times grow darker and the end draws near, the louder we need to be about His greatness. That doesn’t mean we should be obnoxious. But we also shouldn’t cower like trembling, fragile flowers. 

Christians, we are daughters and sons of God. He has redeemed us. He has given us a new life, a new hope, and an everlasting future. He knew my worth before I knew my name, and He’d already decided to do whatever it took to save me (Isaiah 53:10). 

God is great. In Him, I have all I need, and He wants a big family. That’s the thing about great people. They’re always looking for folks they want to bless. The doors to God’s house are wide open, and He wants everyone to experience the peace and joy that we can only find in Him. 

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

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks won’t match. She has authored eight novels, two novellas, three devotional books, and more flash fiction than you can shake a stick at. A senior partner at the award-winning Uncommon Universes Press, she is passionate about stories and the authors who write them. Learn more about her book coaching and follow her adventures online at www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: In what ways is God great to you?

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?