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Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Slattery

Crosswalk.com blogspot for Jennifer Slattery, President of Wholly Loved Ministries

(This post is taken from Jennifer Slattery and Maria Morgan's free Bible study, Developing a Life of Love and Faith.)

My hands were shaky, my stomach queasy. I’d been to the bathroom five times in maybe twice as many minutes as my jumble of nerves worked against my courage to obey. Having given my word, committed to this thing, I knew I couldn’t back out.

Though the thought had crossed my mind over a dozen times.

The strength to obey. For the apostle Paul that meant facing incredible persecution—beatings, floggings, imprisonment … the continual threat of death. I may never endure such hardship for Christ, but that morning, I felt like I was facing a kind of death—death to my reputation.

And yet, like Paul, I knew I’d been entrusted with the gospel, and my story, as ugly as parts of it were, revealed the power of the gospel within me.

I knew. As much as I hated it, as much as my pride fought against it, I knew, God wanted to use my testimony to bring hope and healing to other women. To do this I’d need strength—the strength to die to myself. And only He could give me the power to do that.

Determined to surrender to God’s leading, trusting Him to show Himself strong on my behalf, on the morning in May of 2012, I took several deep breaths, checked my appearance in the mirror one last time, and left the safety of the bathroom to unveil all to women I considered friends.

Certain they’d hear, clearly, the message of God’s unyielding love and grace. Equally certain that, by the time I finished, I would lose any ounce of respect or admiration they’d held for me.

It’s easy to share our triumphs, and perhaps even our struggles. But to reveal our ugly, the deep secret shame that hinders our freedom until Christ intervenes?

That’s hard. That takes courage, a decision to “die to one’s self,” and leaning hard on Christ.

Sharing my story, as a high school drop out and former homeless girl, was rough. But not nearly as rough as Paul’s must have been. He was part of the ISIS or NAZI soldier of his day, deemed powerful by some and evil by others. A man who witnessed incredible brutality and “agreed completely with the killing” (Acts 8:1) The kind of man mothers warn their children about and whose very name must’ve caused countless Christians to freeze in fear.

The very group of people he now spent most of his time with.

What must it have been like to carry a past like that around? What kind of shame would such a history cause?

To what lengths would a tyrannical murderer go to, to keep that past hidden?

What kind of love—for God and mankind—would it take for such a man to open up and share all?

What kind of love would it take for us to do the same?

We all have stories, testimonies of God’s grace and faithfulness—of the power of the gospel revealed in us. That is why our testimonies have such power, so that, as we share, “others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:16).

As I close, I can anticipate some of you thinking, ‘But what about me? I don’t have a dramatic God story. I was never homeless, on drugs, or murderous. I grew up in a strong Christian home, was connected in church all my life. Does my story still have power?”

Absolutely. My story, and Paul’s story, give a glimpse of the darkness that comes from living out of step or apart from Christ. For me, though I belonged to Christ when I went through my rough years, I certainly wasn’t living as He desired, and my life was characterized by darkness. For Paul, he didn’t have the light of Christ at all.

Your story is probably different than mine and Paul’s, but it can still show the beauty and love and freedom that God intends, when we turn to Him, He works in us and our circumstances, and when we live with Him. Our world needs to see both, and our Savior speaks through both. And besides, our stories aren’t truly about us anyway but rather, they’re about Christ in us. When we remember that, and shift our focus off ourselves and onto Him, He overpowers our fears and insecurities with His strength.

The strength to make Him known.

Take a moment to write out your testimony, either of when you first came to Christ or perhaps when He did something significant in your life that revealed His love, grace, and mercy. Who might God be calling you to share your story with?

Before you read today’s suggested Bible passages, I wanted to provide some background information. Stephen, the man mentioned in Acts 7, was the first Christian martyr, and prior to our passage, he publicly shared the gospel and how the Old Testament pointed to Jesus.

For those participating in our 1 Timothy study, here's today’s suggested Bible reading: Acts 7:54-60, Acts 8:1-3, and Acts 9:1-22. Pop over to our FB group to join the discussion! Our memory verse for this week is Psalm 105:1

"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done" (Psalm 105:1, NLT).

And ... before you go, I've got fun news! Today is Healing Love's release day! You can check it out HERE! (I'm not sure when the print copy will go live, but it should be within a day or two.)

If you found today's post helpful, you may also enjoy:

Jennifer's Bible reading plan, Bible reading plan imageCultivating a Thankful Heart--available on the YouVersion Bible app, just in time for Thanksgiving! You can check it out HERE.

Other resources:

Intentional Holidays, a daily reflection devotional released by Wholly Loved Ministries: 

This holiday season, God invites us to slow down our hustle and to trade our striving for resting and rejoicing. Immanuel, God with us, encourages us to hit pause in the middle of our crazy, beautiful, and not-so-glamorous moments to experience Him. No matter how busy our days, fragmented our minds, disrupted our plans, or frazzled our hearts, God beckons us to draw near so that we can live filled and refilled. We can experience peace, no matter our circumstances, through the Prince of Peace, our Savior.

Visit Jennifer's devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud, HERE.

You can purchase a copy HERE.

Make sure to sign up for Jennifer's free quarterly e-mailing, which releases soon. Each edition contains a short devotional, fictional excerpt, recipe, and more. You can sign up HERE. As an added bonus, all subscribers receive a free 36-lesson Bible study (in ebook form, link to download sent separately) on 1 Timothy. She also invites you to visit her blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. You can also connect with her on

Back when my husband proposed to me, I didn’t think about how hard marriage would be. Honestly I didn’t think at all. I was swept up in the romance as this sweet man kenlt before me, rose in hand, promising to love me for the rest of his life. Actually I’m not sure he even said that. If my memory is correct, he asked, “Do you want to marry me,” and I said yes. We didn’t talk about commitment, the strain of merging two very diverse lifes, or any of the other problems we came to face after.

I was young, naïve, and had no idea the work, humility, and the growth it would require to join two lives. I also didn’t realize how completely ill-equipped and ill-prepared I was. I discovered very quickly, through a nearly failed marriage, that I couldn’t love my husand well, in my own wisdom and strength. Half the time, I didn’t even have the gumption to try. I was too focused on myself, too filled with pride and insecurity, to create the type of relationship I longed for.

Although I tried. I followed plans and read books and cajoled and pestered and begged. And prayed, oh, I did a lot of praying—that God would change my husband. Because, you see, I was convinced our mess was entirely his fault. If only he weren’t so selfish or prideful or distracted, if only he spent more time at home, or talked more ... I had quite a list, one I perpetually reviewed but we never seemed to progress toward.

Eventually, before my daughter‘s fourth birthday, in fact, my husband and found ourselves sitting in a divorce lawyers office, ready to end it all. Neither one of us wanted to be there, but we hadn’t a clue how to unravel the tangle of hurt and distrust we’d created.

That evening, I left frustrated with myself, with the the state of our marriage, with the prospect of a shattered family, and angry with God. I knew divorce wasn’t His will. Therefore, I determined He wanted me to remain miserable for the rest of my life.

A few nights later, while my husband worked the graveyard shift and my daughter lay upstairs sleeping, I sat in a dark, silent living room, feeling completely alone. Not just alone, but trapped in my loneliness. “God, I give up,” I said. “I can’t do this anymore.”

Though at the time, my words were more flippant than heartfelt, God answered, and He began to turn things around. He helped me connect with some strong Christian women—and disconnect from some perpetually unhappy ones who soured the way I viewed my life. But even more importantly, He drew me closer to Himself and shifted my focus off of my husband and onto Christ and myself.

First, He zeroed my gaze on my Savior. He reminded me of the depth of His love and care, of what He’d endured for me. In this, He helped me understand I was to love my husband, first and foremost, out of love for Him. On particularly tense days, when our arguments seemed to outnumber our smiles, I may not have felt my husband deserved anything from me, but Christ deserved my all, my full surrender.

Second, He showed me all the transformational work He longed to do within me. As I sat there in His presence, my heart laid bear before Him, He spoke tenderly to my soul—words of wisdom and insight, and often, conviction. In the light of His grace, as I began to set all my finger pointing aside, clarity came. I realized, yes, my husband had room to grow, but so did I.

God wanted me to focus on growing into the wife and mother He created me to be, entrusting my husband to Him.

And so I did. Surrendering my hurt, my wisdom, and my husband to my Father wasn’t easy, but it was freeing. And healing. Healing for me and our marriage. The more I released my grip, it seemed, the more of God’s power was unleashed within me.

The power to hold my tongue when angery words fought to come out.

The power to see good when everything around me felt hard.

The power to forgive when seeds of bitterness tried to grow.

The power to trust.

The power to love.

The power to hope.

That was over twenty years ago, and God has done amazing things in my heart and within each of our hearts. I can honestly say, we’re closer than we’ve ever been. Those arguments that used to occur daily are now rare, and their much shorter lived. The hurt? Gone. And in it’s place, love, enduring, inconquerable, love. Not because said or did the right thing or figured this whole relationship dance out but rather because we surrendered to the One who had. The One who formed us, who loved us, and fought for us.  

If you found today's post helpful, you may also enjoy:

Jennifer's Bible reading plan, Bible reading plan imageCultivating a Thankful Heart--available on the YouVersion Bible app, just in time for Thanksgiving! You can check it out HERE.

Intentional Holidays, a daily reflection devotional released by Wholly Loved Ministries: 

This holiday season, God invites us to slow down our hustle and to trade our striving for resting and rejoicing. Immanuel, God with us, encourages us to hit pause in the middle of our crazy, beautiful, and not-so-glamorous moments to experience Him. No matter how busy our days, fragmented our minds, disrupted our plans, or frazzled our hearts, God beckons us to draw near so that we can live filled and refilled. We can experience peace, no matter our circumstances, through the Prince of Peace, our Savior.

You can purchase a copy HERE.

Make sure to sign up for Jennifer's free quarterly e-mailing, which releases soon. Each edition contains a short devotional, fictional excerpt, recipe, and more. You can sign up HERE. As an added bonus, all subscribers receive a free 36-lesson Bible study (in ebook form, link to download sent separately) on 1 Timothy. She also invites you to visit her blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE. And contact her HERE to book her to speak at your next women's event. 

Find all her books HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

Quote pulled from post with a night sky background

Where does man’s choice, most specifically, man’s sin, and God’s sovereignty, intersect? I suspect we’ve all wrestled with that question at some point. We understand that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, faithful, and true. We believe the One who formed the stars from nothing and set our world into motion can easily orchestrate the details of our lives.

But what about human choice? What about when our boss makes a foolish decision and the company goes bankrupt, or one person’s sin drastically impacts the life of another? We all watch the news, and if we’re honest, we wonder, Lord, where were You when that parent began abusing that child, or that shooter purchased that gun, or that drunk driver got behind the wheel of his car?

Though admittedly, the answers to such questions are much more complicated than my temporal, short-sighted mind quote pulled from text with sunset backgroundcould ever understand, I’m comforted with this: Today isn’t the end, and one day God will indeed turn all things to good.

Scripture reveals this again and again. Consider Sarai, later called Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Her story is told in Genesis chapters 12-23. God called her and her husband out of a pagan city-state and led them to what scholars refer to as the Promised Land. They followed,  obediently it seemed, until Abraham became scared—twice—and betrayed his wife—twice. She soon found herself in a helpless, terrifying situation.

But God came through. He saw her, He rescued her, and He ultimately penned a beautiful story through her.

Then there was the young Hebrew named Joseph, born three generations later. God called him out from among his brothers for an amazing God-ordained purpose—the saving of many lives. Only shortly after that call, the immature teen bragged about a series of dreams God gave him. His siblings became enraged, beat him, and sold him into slavery. And that wasn’t the worst he experienced. Later, while serving faithfully in a foreign land, his master’s wife hit on him, numerous times. Driven by integrity, he rebuffed her. She became incensed, accused him of assault, and had him thrown into prison.

But again, God came through. Not immediately, not even quickly, but in His perfect timing. At just the right time, actually. He orchestrated Joseph’s release and placed him in a position of leadership, just as Joseph’s dreams had predicted, decade’s prior.

I could go on, and perhaps you could too. Maybe like me, you could even share examples from your life—of times when others attempted to harm you but God ultimately turned the situation to good, like Romans 8:28 promised. That verse states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV)

Notice Scripture didn’t say, “God will only allow that which is good.” Rather, it says, “He will turn to good …”

In other words, yes, God may very well let us experience some of our worst fears. But when we do, we can trust that those terrifying moments won’t last forever and that God will one day use them for good.

Quote pulled from post with sunrise backgroundThat is where our confidence rests—not in the circumstances of today but rather the promises of tomorrow when God will make all things right. This means we can trust, though life might hurt now, heaven is coming, and I believe when we’re standing on the other side of eternity, experiencing life as God intended it, we’ll deem every momentary struggle endured today not only worth it but insignificant in comparison to the paradise God held secure for us.

Consider: Where do you place your confidence? Do you trust that God indeed holds your tomorrow? And if so, how does that trust impact your today? 

If you found today's post helpful, you may also enjoy:

Jennifer's Bible reading plan, Bible reading plan imageCultivating a Thankful Heart--available on the YouVersion Bible app, just in time for Thanksgiving! You can check it out HERE.

Intentional Holidays, a daily reflection devotional released by Wholly Loved Ministries: 

This holiday season, God invites us to slow down our hustle and to trade our striving for resting and rejoicing. Immanuel, God with us, encourages us to hit pause in the middle of our crazy, beautiful, and not-so-glamorous moments to experience Him. No matter how busy our days, fragmented our minds, disrupted our plans, or frazzled our hearts, God beckons us to draw near so that we can live filled and refilled. We can experience peace, no matter our circumstances, through the Prince of Peace, our Savior.

You can purchase a copy HERE. 

Make sure to sign up for Jennifer's free quarterly e-mailing, which releases soon. Each edition contains a short devotional, fictional excerpt, recipe, and more. You can sign up HERE. As an added bonus, all subscribers receive a free 36-lesson Bible study (in ebook form, link to download sent separately) on 1 Timothy. She also invites you to visit her blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE. And contact her HERE to book her to speak at your next women's event. 

 

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