Is Our Strength Too Small?

by Terri Gillespie

If you falter in a day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10 TLV

What was I thinking?

An amusement park ride that included the words “drop” or “doom” probably wasn’t the best choice for me—even twenty-five years ago. But the hopeful look on my then teenaged daughter’s face trumped my fear—and good sense. I couldn’t disappoint her again.

I suppose working fifty-hour weeks had built a sizeable reserve of guilt for her to draw from.

The ride advertised itself as the tallest in the park. “Breathtaking views,” it promoted. Unfortunately, as we sat in the gondola on the precipice of insanity, those views were only for a few seconds. And with the gondolas being completely exposed to the elements, I felt like I was about to freefall—without a parachute—over four hundred feet. Pure, unadulterated terror.

Sitting out there those seconds, I remember questioning how the ride worked. I may even have said—screamed—that out loud. In the state of pure fear, I had forgotten how the monstrosity worked.

Mind you, for the hour we stood in line, I had watched how it worked—over and over again. Listened to the teenaged attendant give the safety briefing, as he strapped us in.

Yet, once we perched over nothingness hundreds of feet in the air, everything I had seen or heard was forgotten.

You know what it reminded me of? Receiving a potential death sentence. Except I had absurdly spent good money to willingly receive that verdict.

The true test of wisdom’s strength in our life is when trials and tribulations befall us. When we’re strapped in and riding life’s “drop of doom.”

I can spout wise words with the best of them, but when challenges arise, especially ones that push those weak areas of my heart, I can still falter. That what-do-I-do panic moment before His truth kicks in. The standing on a precipice with a stampede behind me. My first thoughts are “Yikes! Help!” or a sense of hopelessness. Or, “How does this faith-thing work again?”

But the sooner I pause and look up, out of my physical situation—or down at the drop—my Heavenly Father can guide me and show me how to proceed. He can give me that peace, that perfect shalom.

And the shalom [peace] of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua [Jesus]. Philippians 4:7 TLV

I fully own to being weak. Still, if faltering points me to my true strength, my Abba, then that’s not too bad. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLV).

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge my weakness. I would rather be wise and completely dependent upon our True Strength right away when adversity comes, but I know that You will walk me through the minute I come to You. Thanks for Your patience. 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 beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: What do you do when you panic?

Are You a Negative Nellie?

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB

During the months of COVID quarantine, I’ve found myself fighting one long-lasting virus more deadly than any other—the virus of negativity. And it doesn’t matter how much I pray or how many Scriptures I read, sometimes it only takes one scroll through social media or one disgruntle phone call. Or a not so lovely email, for the symptoms to come creeping back in.

The thing about negativity is that not only does it affect you, but it also creates an environment that infects you.

There are times when my British husband has told me: “Stop being a Negative Nellie,” and I don’t realize I’m being negative at all. But you see, the symptoms of negativity are more surprising than you might think.

  • Do you find yourself zapped of energy when you read someone’s Facebook post? Then do you spend time fuming about it, even if you don’t write a reply?
  • When a particular person’s name is mentioned, does your mind instantly transfer to all the bad qualities about that said person? Or do you dread when one specific name pops up on your cell phone because you “just know” they are going to “drain you” of your good mood?
  • Do things that you don’t like about yourself, or “stupid mistakes” keep you feeling like you will never achieve (you fill in the blank).
  • And this is a big one for me— Do you find yourself calling yourself “a failure” or other demeaning names when things go wrong, or your home is not at peace.

Negativity is an outflow of tired, frustrated, prolonged discouragement. It is as infectious as any virus. In fact, I think that the enemy of our soul likes to use it more than any other weapon against us. Why?

It’s a spirit-killer.

Negativity destroys the spirit of hope, joy, and peace that the Father works to grow in us, so we might be a testimony to His faithfulness in all things and through all things.

Hebrews 12:1 describes it like this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every UNNECESSARY WEIGHT and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith” (AMP).

Negativity may not be sinful, but it definitely is “unnecessary weight” that keeps us from testifying the truth of God’s faithfulness. So, refuse to carry it.

You can turn the channel on negativity with mindfulness to what we let into our thoughts and hearts. When the negative dialogue starts playing in our head, we can catch ourselves. Speaking God’s truth into those moments will break negativity’s hold on us!

Guide negative conversations with friends into the truth of God’s good things. You might consider breaking through negative conversations with moments of laughter or funny or encouraging words—it’s indeed good medicine. 

Also, know there is nothing wrong with guarding your heart against social media or feeds that stir up negative emotions in you. Also, consider Philippians 4:8 when you are posting, too. 

In order for you to arise to everything God has called you to be, I pray that God would daily strip away everything that the enemy would like to use to hold you back, by the ultimate authority and power of the name of Jesus Christ.

amberweigand-buckley - Issuu

About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is editor and art director for multi award-winning Leading Hearts magazine, the official voice of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Get the latest issue for FREE by texting LEADINGHEARTS to 64600 and check out leadinghearts.com.

Join the conversation: How do you fight negativity in yourself?

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men

by Christina Rose

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14 KJV

It was a peaceful night in Bethlehem long ago where shepherds kept watch over their flocks.  An angel of the Lord appeared in the sky and told them that she had come to bring great tidings of joy. She announced that on that day the Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. Suddenly a heavenly host joined the angel, and the sky was filled with praises glorifying God, declaring peace on earth and good will to men. When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds left the fields and found Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those  things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:17-28 KJV

It was a peaceful night, many years ago, on Christmas Eve at our quaint little church in rural Massachusetts. I snuggled up to my mother’s soft blue coat with a silver fur collar that smelled of her perfume. The snow was gently falling outside while the church was filled with the glorious sound of the congregation singing Christmas carols. At the end of the service, lit candles were passed around as we sang “Silent Night.” This moment is etched in my memory of the perfect peace I felt as a child. I felt loved, safe, and protected.

As we approach this holiday season, many have forgotten the peace that Jesus died to give us. The heated Presidential election has incited riots, destruction, killing and anger. Our news and social media are filled with hate and attacks on our President, police, and anyone with opposing beliefs. Businesses and properties have been destroyed. Jobs and income have been obliterated by the Pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Our children are living in isolation and fear. They have been born into a time where they do not know the peace I felt as a child long ago in rural Massachusetts. Those of us who have been privileged to know this peace have a duty to stand firm and remind all around us that peace is our birthright and to trust in God’s word.

It is significant to note that the angel who announced Christ’s birth appeared to shepherds who were located on the lower rungs of the social ladder, and that Jesus was born in a manger emphasizing how God lifts up the humble. Rather than be fearful and angry at this time, we must be humble and trust that God is in control and has a great plan for the world.

When I worked in San Francisco a few years ago, we often ate lunch outside on sunny days. Many homeless people would wait on the sidelines for leftovers. One day someone handed an unkempt woman in rags a bowl of hot noodles. She broke into laughter and started singing. She held each noodle up and sang to it as she slurped it down, laughing and giggling at the sky. She had no home, no job and walked in rags, but she blessed us all with her delight in unexpected noodles. Her humility and gratitude exemplified the peace that Christ died to give us.

“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.” John 14:27 NIV

With all the unrest that is happening in our world today, we must model Christlike love to encourage those around us. We must give faith and hope to our children. We must trust that the peace Christ gave us is greater than any unrest that may be raging about us. We must think back to that perfect holy night in Bethlehem when Christ was born to give us a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding.   

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NIV

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What thoughts of God bring you peace?

Peace Like a Frog

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

One day while pulling weeds and overgrown vines in my large Florida backyard, I squeezed through the hedges to grab a vine and spied a small frog clinging to a leaf. Instead of jumping down and hopping off to find a calmer location where the plants were not being jostled and shaken, he didn’t budge.

For the next hour, I continued pushing past the frog as I pulled on vines and drug them back through the hedges to deposit them in the trash can. But despite the disturbance I was making, the frog didn’t move. Seemingly unfazed by any potential danger, he sat peacefully and unflustered on the side of the leaf.

I was surprised at his cool composure. Why was he so calm in the midst of so much chaos around him?

With my hands busy with the task of pulling out the vines, my mind was free to ponder things like how a frog could stay so peaceful, and I realized God’s provision of a suit of camouflage made him feel safe. His reaction to danger was to “hide” in God’s provision for him. The frog was able to be quiet and at peace in the midst of the mayhem going on around him, because he knew that while remaining still he’s invisible to predators. He’s camouflaged. He’s hidden.

The frog inspired me to think about my own reactions in life, for when uncertainties surround me and life seems chaotic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

But when life gets out of hand and we don’t know how to untangle ourselves from the chaos surrounding us, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV) Like a frog that doesn’t move when danger lurks, God asks us to be still.

For when we are still, we can find that hiding place in the arms of our loving Father. When we quiet our minds and rest in His care, He can give us His peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7) In Psalm 32:7, David says, “You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (NIV) And Psalm 91:4 tells us, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart“ (NIV).

When we’re still and look to God in our troubles, we can recognize that God has the answers for us. He is our security, and He is our refuge.

When we look at nature, we see how God protects all His creatures, sometimes by giving a frog the protection of camouflage, sometimes by giving a porcupine prickly spines or a bird the ability to fly away. For each of his creatures, He is a loving creator.  But for us, His people, He is also a loving father. God’s amazing love is our protection. He is our hiding place and our refuge. When we’re scurrying around trying to find answers, He stands with His arms out to us, telling us to come to Him. He is faithful and has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He himself is our protection and refuge.

When you feel fear stalking you, when your mind swirls around with fears, imaginations, and unanswerable questions, when fear creeps up on you and is about to pull you under, remember you have a hiding place in a God who loves you with an everlasting love. His protective camouflage will hide you from the enemy’s snares. And under the shadow of his wings you can find refuge.

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Peace Like a Frog – insight from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, will release in February 2019, to offer practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: When has God been a refuge for you?

De-clogging Our Minds

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I had a little wrestling match with my vacuum cleaner recently. It was doing that wimpy-clean thing—you know, where you have to get down on your hands and knees and hand-feed it every little fuzz ball? If I’m going to do that, I might as well not have a vacuum cleaner. I could just pick up every little piece of fuzz and throw it in the trash myself—cut out the middle man.

A vacuum that’s lost all its “suck-ocity” is not worth much. So I got down in the floor, got the thing in a headlock and looked inside to find the problem. Oh, I found a problem alright. Several.

The first was a little piece of sock. Then there was that string. And while I call it a string, I think it might better be described as a length of yarn that could’ve been an entire sweater in another life. There was a hunk of the bathroom rug the size of a Chihuahua—and I hadn’t even missed it. I was also surprised to find what I thought was a loofa. But then I realized it was just a whole bunch of those little plastic fishing-line-like connectors that attach price tags to things. Who knew they could find each other inside the dark recesses of the vacuum cleaner and form their own little solar system? No wonder the machine didn’t want to work! How did all that stuff even get in there?

At least it gave me a little reminder. When we let our minds suck up the wrong things, we can’t expect them to work the way they’re supposed to. There’s a lot less wrestling with our minds when we’re emptying out the clogs and filling our minds with the kind of thoughts that truly feed our spirits and grow our faith.

Negative, evil thoughts will find each other in the dark recesses of our minds. And they multiply. The next thing you know, you find yourself with a solar-system-sized problem in your thought-life.

There’s so much garbage available to us. On the Internet, TV, movies, magazines—it’s accessible at every turn of the head.  If we let our minds suck up trashy junk, we shouldn’t be surprised when we have a hard time staying alert to walking out our faith-life well.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 what we’re supposed to continually feed our minds: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (NIV).

There’s a lot less wrestling with our minds when we remember to fill them with the right things. Less wrestling, more peace. As a matter of fact, that passage doesn’t merely say that we’ll experience great peace, it tells us that the God of peace Himself will be “with” us. It’s vital to our faith-life that we remember that His presence makes all the difference.

And personally, I’m also going to try to remember to clean out my vacuum a little more often. Especially since this last time I was unclogging it, even though we’ve never had one, I’m pretty sure I also found a gerbil.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB

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De-clogging our minds – thoughts from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is still wondering if coffee can actually ferment. She is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you keep your mind de-clogged?