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Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Slattery

Author and speaker Jennifer Slattery has addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation and her love for seeing others embrace freedom in Christ is evident in each of her six contemporary novels and on her devotional blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As Founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit with Jennifer on Facebook at JenSlatte.

Sometimes it feels as if darkness has overpowered light, sorrow dominates joy, and confusion and fear infiltrate peace. Watching the news play out before me, or perhaps even sitting with a hurting friend, can make me feel powerless. Ineffectual. 

But Scripture tells me this is a lie. In Christ, I--we--have the power to transform our world. Each day, with every word and action we choose, every smile we offer, we can speak hope into despair, love into loneliness, and healing into the most broken and beaten down hearts. 

We have the power of the risen, victorious, life-and-light brining Savior residing within.

Here are six ways we can unleash that power:

Engage.

In our hyper-interactive culture, where tweets, posts, and likes often replace face-to-face encounters. The result: Many feel unseen. Insignificant. Unvalued. Simply taking the time to engage others in conversation, even if but for a moment, can encourage a deflated heart. Because remember, we're representatives and reflectors of El Roi, the God who sees. (Gen. 16:13) May we reflect Him well. 

Choose grace.

I mess up a hundred times each day. I respond with frustration instead of kindness. I behave selfishly instead of releasing my Father's love. And many, many times I let my mouth (or keyboard) run when I should simply walk away. But though each unChristlike reaction breaks my heart and, often, lead me to confession, I'm also very quick to offer myself grace. I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed ... perhaps caught off guard. Yet do I offer the same grace to others? Do I make allowances for their faults or "make much" of every blunder? Whenever I choose the former, I reveal a bit of Jesus and point others to Him.

Stand up.

I don't want to get political here, and yet ... even as I type, I have to ask myself: When did standing up for the oppressed, beaten down, discarded, and marginalized become a political act? Or at least, deemed as such? It's not. Rather, it's honoring the commands of the One who left heaven to rescue the oppressed--those burdened and enslaved by sin--who tells us to speak out for those who don't have a voice. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  

Enter into someone else's darkness.

Did you ever make flashlight shadows when you were a kid? Did you ever try to do this in a well-lit room? Didn't work, right? So what'd you do? Most likely you closed yourself in a darkened bathroom where the beams from your flashlight radiated strong and bright. Whenever we seek out, reach out, and intentionally walk beside those shrouded in darkness, we flood their world with light. 

Show kindness.

Offer a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement, and open door. Never underestimate the power of a simple yet intentional kind act done for another. It can soothe anger, counter distrust, and open hearts to the love of Christ. In everything we do and every word we speak, may we remember it's God's kindness that leads people to repentance. 

Pray. 

May we see every act of darkness, ugly display of hate, and destructive outburst of anger as a reminder to turn to our unchanging, unconquerable power source—Jesus Christ. Those moments spent on our knees may feel … anticlimactic. We may be tempted to think our time doing—serving in ministry, feeding the power, typing out oodles and oodles of words for books and blog posts—holds more value. But Scripture promises this is far from true. Prayer isn’t meant to be something we do in random still moments before our real work begins. Prayer is our first and most important work, regardless the task, because ultimately, only Jesus can truly change a heart and a world. When we prioritize prayer, we’re acknowledging we believe this to be true.

Imagine if we each chose to do one of the above each day. Imagine how our families, relationships, neighborhoods—our world—might change.

What is one way you plan to be a world-changer today? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below or engage with me on Facebook, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! Because in and with Christ, we can change the world!

And make sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, recipes, devotions, and more! You can subscribe HERE. As a thank you, subscribers receive a free, 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, with a link to download sent in a separate email). 

Want Jennifer to speak at your next women's event? Contact her HERE

 

Do you ever feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water? Like you’re surrounded by fog and never-ending waves? Maybe you’ve become so exhausted, you’ve begun to wonder if you’ll remain lost at sea forever.

Often, when I face a rough period, I'm reminded of my last open water swim, back when I competed in sprint triathlons. The water was cold and somehow the 500 meters across the lake seemed double to the 20-lap equivalent in the pool. There weren’t any clearly marked lines painted along the bottom. Only a blur of feet pelting me in the head and face and the occasional buoy shrouded in fog.

As wave after wave swept over me, filling my nose and mouth with murky lake water, it felt like I was fighting a losing battle. For every exhausting stroke forward, the current seemed to take me two strokes back. The harder the current pulled, the harder I kicked. Before long, my tense muscles killed my buoyancy. My legs sank, throwing my entire body off alignment ... for about two minutes. Then, muscle memory kicked in and my body relaxed, allowing me to follow the gentle ebb and flow of the current.

The result? The minute I quit fighting and striving and pounding the water, I started to relax. And a relaxed body floats much better than a tense one. Before long, I fell into a nice, smooth rhythm that carried me to shore.

I think the same holds true for our spiritual life as. We’ll hear God’s call. Maybe it’s to start a new Sunday school class,  join a ministry, or return to school after 10, 20, or 30 years out ... and all we can see are the crashing waves, threatening to hold us back.

We begin to sink under a torrent of to-do lists and expectations, forgetting that the God who told us to jump in is ready and able to carry us to the shore. The waves don’t surprise Him; the fog doesn’t daunt Him. He knows which way the wind is blowing, which way the waves will crash, and which currents will carry us the farthest. In fact, He’s got our entire journey mapped out and has assumed full responsibility to get us there.

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” Zechariah 4:6 (ESV).

It is our choice, then, how we will respond. We can relax, surrendering to God in whatever direction He carries us, knowing that He won't let us drown. Or we can battle the waves, beating ourselves into a frenzy of exhaustion as we fight against the current.

Are you tired today? Feeling discouraged? Pause to meditate on the words of your Savior:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV).

Jesus knows exactly what you are facing and how hard it is. He’s got a plan and the power to carry out. Trust in Him, and wait for Him. He won’t abandon you nor close His ears to your pleas.

Let's talk about this! Can you share a time when you felt overwhelmed and found power through surrender? What are some ways you intentionally rely on Jesus each day? Share your thoughts in the comments below or engage with me on Facebook, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

And make sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, recipes, devotions, and more! You can subscribe HERE. As a thank you, subscribers receive a free, 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, with a link to download sent in a separate email). 

Want Jennifer to speak at your next women's event? Contact her HERE

Fun news! Her latest release is current free (Kindle version) on Amazon (through Oct. 10th). Snatch a copy HERE. 

God always answers us, and often in unexpected ways.

Many times, His answer feels delayed. While we wait, it's easy to feel ignored, as if He's not listening or perhaps doens't care. But Scripture proves both assumption false. Whether we hear God's response or not, whether we sense His presence or not, we can trust He's near and attentive to our every cry. Our faithful Father is continually going before us, standing behind us, and walking beside us, gently leading us toward His very best.

When I feel stuck or uncertain, I remember Psalm 16:7-8, which says:

"I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me" (Psalm 16:7-8 NLT).

This assures me that as I grow closer to Him, as I spend time with Him and reading His Word, the Bible, He'll shift my thinking and sway my heart so I can live in a way that pleases Him.

This is a process, and one that is infinitely more important than any decision I make today. I often have a very short term focus, getting caught up in the here and now. I allow myself to be deceived into thinking this thing, whatever it is, is more urgent, more necessary than the weightier and eternal matters relating to my character and spiritual growth.

This has become a cliche' but I'll say it anyway: God is more concerned with our journey than our destination. Yes, He is always working out His plan. Yes, He is always working on our behalf. Yes, He guides us regarding which path to take, what opportunity to accept or decline, and how to handle the difficulties that arise. Like a loving Father, He wants the very best for us.

But what if that best is not so much what happens to us but instead within us? 

Often, when I'm wrestling with touch decisions, I sense God saying, "Why are you asking Me what you should do? You already know. Live out what you know to be right. I'll show you the rest in time."

And then I remember Psalm 15:

"Who may worship in Your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts" (Psalm 15:1-4 NLT).

There's enough instruction packed in that short passage to keep me occupied for weeks. Months. The rest of my life.

Let's talk about this. I like to have all the answers. To know what's ahead and how to get there, and I can get so caught up on the whats and whens that I lose sight of what God is trying to do in and through me in the here and now. Can you relate? When you look back at your moments of uncertainty or indecision, can you see God's hand working not just in the situation, but in and through you as well? 

And make sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, recipes, devotions, and more! You can subscribe HERE. As a thank you, subscribers receive a free, 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, with a link to download sent in a separate email). 

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