I No Longer Hate My Story

A few years ago I wrote a post entitled, I Hate My Story. I encourage you to read it. I read it again before I wrote this and it brought good tears to my eyes. It is about “forgiving God”.

For years I hated my story. Recently, a friend sent me a link to a new book called, When You Don’t Like Your Story by Sharon Jaynes. I haven’t read it, but it does sound good. When she sent it, I thought, “You know what, I don’t like my story and I doubt I ever will, but I don’t hate my story any longer.” I was so thankful for this prompt that revealed this new truth to me.

Earlier that same day I had sat with two people at different times as they shared very hard personal things happening in their lives. I was so thankful to be able to sit with these precious women and love on them.  As I contemplated this, I became thankful for my story. I am not glad about the decisions I made and if I had a do over, I would happily change a few scenes. But I no longer hate it.  Because of my story I have the capacity to sit in messy complicated places with others fully in grace—without judgement. It is a beautiful thing to be able to sit with someone and pour out grace after they have been rejected and shamed by others.

Our hard messy stories expand our capacity to walk in grace.

I now trust the Lord more than I ever have before. I have my abortion story, which I have told countless times now (I remember when God called me to tell it and how fearful I was). But that is only a part of my story. A lot of life has happened since I was in college—27 years of life (yikes, I just kind of told my age). Our life is made up of more than a single event. There is so much I could share and perhaps one day I will. But what I do know through it all is that my God continues to show up again and again and He is faithful. And the things the enemy may have meant for evil or to cause harm, the Lord continues to turn around and say, “No, this isn’t meant for harm, but it is meant for good and to take you into deeper relationship and deeper trust in Me.”

I still hate the sin. I hate that I won’t see my daughter lost to abortion until I get to heaven. I hate that I caused pain to people I love. I hate that others caused pain. Just like Jesus, I hate the sin, but I don’t hate the story. He is in the story.

Jesus hates sin and sin was the catalyst to the greatest story—the story of redemption. It is because of His story, that we can be ok with our story. He’s ok with our story—after all He approved the final edit.

He never approves of sin but we have free will and we have choices. What He does approve of is what He will turn around from it if we give Him the story and let Him finish it. It takes courage to turn our story over to Him for the final edits. We often think we can write a better story.

Will you listen to the Lord today? If you were like me and hate your story, He has something He wants to say:

My beloved daughter/son, will you give it to me? Will you give me your heartache, your pain, your suffering? Will you trust me with the final edits? Will you trust me to finish the story? Will you let go and surrender trusting in my goodness? I am trustworthy. Do you believe me? I know how hard this has been and the road you are walking seems too difficult, steep, and treacherous for you. I won’t let you fall. Hold my hand. I’m holding onto you. I always have been. I see you. I know you hate your story, but that is only because you haven’t seen the ending. Let me write the ending for you. Let me lead you. The things on this path will lead you to a beautiful place full of joy and acceptance and glory. You already see the fruit of the steps you’ve taken with me. Keep walking with me as I weave a beautiful story of redemption, grace, and mercy. The final edit will be worth it.

Dear Heavenly Father, we place all the beauty, pain, heartache, wrong choices, every part of our story in your hands. We trust your ever faithful fingers to hold on tightly as we let go and let you write the rest of the story. Lord, may none of it be wasted. Use it all for your glory, every page, every word. We trust every stroke of your heavenly pen dipped in the blood of Jesus Christ to turn our mess into a beautiful story of redemption and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

When Warm and Fuzzy Just Doesn’t Cut It

I don’t think I am the only one who expected the change in calendar years to bring miraculous differences in my life, my work, or my family. All over social media the country has begged for 2020 to close it’s doors so we 2021 could bring better days! So far, I haven’t been impressed.

Am I alone?

I stepped out of my comfort zone by praying for “my word” for 2021. Our blog team leader encouraged each of us to try it and see what God revealed. Admittedly, praying for God to show me words and phrases is still a bit foreign. I didn’t grow up knowing Jesus or understanding that a relationship with Him was the ultimate goal. It took me a long time to come around to having a conversation with God through prayer.

After several heart felt prayers and petition, God gave me my word for 2021:

Endurance.

Excuse me, Lord…um, what? This was not the same warm, fuzzy word other friends were sharing on Instagram. This would not do! This word felt…gritty and tough and raw- all the things I am NOT! I pressed in and researched the word through the lense of scripture and God began to do His revealing work. Throughout scripture, “endurance” is defined like this: “to remain; to abide, not recede or flee. To persevere: under misfortunes and trials, to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ”.

Peter writes about endurance this way: “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:20

The writer of Hebrews says, “Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Hebrews 12:7

Finally Paul describes says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. Romans 5:3-4

This year, God is asking that I endure every circumstance with Christ; not on my own, but with Him. No matter what the suffering in our lives looks like, God sees it and is there with us in it. I have a terrible habit of minimizing my suffering because it doesn’t compare to the deep pain or hardship I perceive others to be going through. I start to treat the things that are happening in my life as “less than important” to God. But the truth is, He cares about every detail of my life. If he clothes the roses in red and cares for the sparrows, how much more then does he care about me? Your suffering means something to God and He is asking you to endure it- don’t give up, don’t recede, don’t give in. Maybe you are:

Going through a divorce

Struggling with a wild child

Adjusting to your spouse’s new work schedule

Kicking an addiction

Mourning the loss of your child

Living with anxiety

Unexpectedly pregnant and alone

Struggling financially

Sometimes, warm and fuzzy just doesn’t cut it. Our lives are messy and broken. But whatever the suffering looks like, there is hope waiting for you on the other side.

Here are the ways I am planning to provide myself structure and discipline when it comes to enduring my suffering in 2021:

  1. Staying connected to God through prayer: I always treat prayer like a last resort instead of my most powerful weapon!
  2. Staying connected to my church: Your community of believers wants to surround you and lift you up in prayer. Cooperate worship and intercession overcomes the enemy and all of his schemes. If you don’t have a church home, I’d encourage you to start looking for one that fits you.
  3. Study God’s word: I am making the commitment to memorize one scripture per week this year. When the suffering comes, because we can be certain it will, the word of God will cut through even joints and marrow. God’s word is our weapon against the darkness and banishes our enemy.

Friends, don’t give up on 2021 yet. God has so much more for us than what we have seen this far.

Father, You are our life source. You are the provider of strength, wisdom, comfort, and hope. We need you in every moment, but especially in our suffering. I pray that your mighty hand would tear through the pain and worry, giving us peace that surpasses understanding. Help us to be in your word and stay strong in our faith. You promise hope on the other side of endurance and your promises are never empty. Father you won’t waste our pain so we are trusting you with it. We love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

His Love is Fierce

Lion Roar Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

He tore through the atmosphere for me! He wanted me to know the depths of His fierce love for me!

I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.” Ezekiel 34:16a

In 1998, the church I was attending was putting out original worship music. So at the request of the congregation we did a live worship album. What an experience it was to be a part. We spent many weeks practicing the music and getting prepared. The people came. The Holy Spirit was definitely present.

We were singing the last song, which was about God’s holiness. I was worshipping, looking toward the sky, when, all of a sudden, it was as if a white screen dropped down. It was like I was watching a movie; only I was in it.

I saw an image of my Heavenly Father and my children. I heard the Father gently whisper, “We have forgiven you, now you need to forgive yourself.” With that, it ended. He tore through the atmosphere for me! He wanted me to know the depths of His fierce love for me!

You see, after having abortions, one of the hardest things to do is to forgive yourself and receive God’s forgiveness and His love.

I was in awe of what God had shown me. I shared this with my closest friend and she asked the question, “Are you going to finally forgive yourself?” How could I forgive myself or receive His forgiveness? I mean, I murdered my unborn children, how do you get past that? How does God?

Even after that glorious experience, I continued resisting receiving His forgiveness and still was not able to forgive myself. I lived in shame for another twelve long years. I was running from the one who loved me most. I was looking for a love that no man could ever fulfill, making self-destructive choices. Four abusive relationships later, going back and forth from God to the world, I found myself in the darkest of pits–so deep and dark, I could barely see a glimmer of light to find my way out. But, in the distance, a glow was there calling me out.

When I started walking toward that flicker of light, Jesus, He changed me. It was a strenuous and back-breaking process to say the least. All I can say is that it was worth the pain I had to go through to get out of the dark and into His glorious light.

God’s Word says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Psalm 139:7, 8.

I had sure made my bed in hell. But God…

I want you to know, sons and daughters, if you are struggling to receive His forgiveness and fierce love, He will stop at nothing to get you back. He wants you to know His unfailing love. Most importantly, to receive it! What amazes me is He chases us down, He seeks us out. There is a song I love called, “Fierce”. Take a moment to listen. His love is relentless in His pursuit. He is fighting for us. He battles our adversary and our free will. Even with those odds, He doesn’t stop. I pray you find comfort in knowing that. I thank God that He never stopped pursuing me through those dark years. His love will miraculously change your life. He is my Champion!

Heavenly Father, thank you for never giving up on us and Your fierce love that never ceases. Help us to receive Your love and return to You with a love just as fierce in our pursuit of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

God, You’re on Mute! {Guest Post}



Today’s Devotional Blog is written by Ric Sun, a Deeper Still team member and missionary. Thank you Ric for sharing your heart with us today!

““Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” – Psalm 139:11-12

12 months ago I (Ric) sat down at my laptop to write a final newsletter for 2019. Without having a clue what 2020 was in store, I along with my family was filled with so much energy and ready to embark on a new and God-given journey to New Zealand in July. A year later today, after attending countless farewell parties and renewing the leasing for numerous times, we are still here in Dallas. I am sitting at the same place, typing on the same laptop, jumping into one zoom meeting after another and getting used to have people shout at me, “Hey you are on mute!” 

“You are on mute!”


If you have been working from home or hosting meetings since the lockdown in March, you are probably no stranger to this phrase. People have gotten accustomed to hearing it at least once during every Zoom meeting and adopted the new meeting skill to shout and wave at the screen, “Hey you are on mute!” In fact, this quote has been voted as top 10 quotes of 2020 in New Zealand. As we are wrapping up a long hard year of 2020 full of death and suffering, many cannot wait for this year to be over and others especially Christians could hardly make sense of God’s sovereignty amid a series of national crisis including wild fire, racial injustice, election and global pandemic. It can seem like God is distant and silent from all the tragedies and animosities throughout the year. It pains our heart to shout and wave at God, “Hey God, you are on mute!”

This “unprecedented” year has reminded me of those dark and chaotic years between the prophecies of Malachi and the coming of the Messiah. These years are called “silent years” because there were no inspired words from God during this time. For 400 years, it seems like God is on mute! Not only did God click the mute button, but also turn off His camera. God went silent. God was nowhere to be found. God seems to have forgotten His people and His promises like what we experienced in 2020. But was God on mute? By no means! Instead, God was doing what He does best to work in the dark that far exceeded the reach of our imagination. Jesus, our long-awaited Messiah arrived at the darkest and the most unexpected time. By the grace of God with His steadfast love and faithfulness, God unmuted Himself to bring His kingdom to earth by sending His Son to die on the cross as ransom to pay the price for our sin and death. Our God is the miracle worker to turn darkness into light and death into life. Hallelujah!

And this year was no exception. In the midst of the tragedy and uncertainty, our family was graced and privileged to witness the glory and faithfulness of God shining brightly and powerfully throughout the year. In the end of every year, it is our joyful tradition to reflect the year and recount the blessings of God. So we invite you to join us to recount the unmuted blessings of God’s faithfulness and to celebrate what God has done in 2020 and what God will do in 2021.    We would love to hear one of your blessings from the past year in the comments!  

Father, we thank you that even when you are silent, you are faithful. We thank you that you are our trusted Father. Lord, we ask to be able to see you at work around us and hear your still small voice leading and guiding us in the right way. Nothing is darkness to you, we thank you that you know the way and lead us by Your never failing light. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  



Ric Sun is a minister of the gospel, and lover of the word. In July 2007, God took hold of his heart through a mission trip in Taiwan where his soul was captured by the immense love of God that has radically and eternally changed his life. In 2010, he married his college sweetheart, Jocelyn and now they have three children, Kyra (2011), Liora (2014), and Zion (2017). Ric and Jocelyn have been a part of the ministry Apartment Life to serve as local missionaries in Houston for two years. He served in Youth Ministry at West Houston Chinese Church from 2011-2016 and Engage and College Ministry at Asian American Baptist Church in Dallas from 2017-2020 while studying in Dallas Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 2019. Ric is passionate about Jesus, Tae Kwon Do (black belt instructor), boba tea (Taiwanese dessert), evangelism, expository preaching, equipping the next generation, involving cross-culture mission and post-aborted ministry.   

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  – Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)      

Treasuring the Moments Ahead

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made know to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:15-19 ESV (emphasis added)

Theses verses continue to ring in my heart even after Christmas has passed. The birth of God himself; the manger scene; the angels appearing to lowly shepherds. It’s all too good to only focus on during the Christmas scene. Mary’s heart as a mother strikes me here, especially the last sentence, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart”. What does Luke mean when he uses the term “treasured up“? What is Mary pondering in her heart; what things is she thinking on?

I think back to the birth of my first child. I only had the brain space to ponder the next diaper change; correct burping form; and when sleeping may be possible again. Mary was called to raise the Savior of the world! There is more going on here than new mom gitters. Mary is soaking in, paying attention to every detail of all that is unfolding before her.

To find out exactly what Mary is paying attention to, let’s jump back in scripture. The shepherds came to see for themselves the birth of Christ. When they arrive, they share with Mary the sight of the angel and his words. And she treasured THESE things, pondering THESE things in her heart. Mary is storing the truth about her newborn son in her memory. He is the Savior she and an entire nation have been waiting for.

“Treasured up” translates from the word “syntereo”; meaning to preserve (a thing from perishing or being lost); to keep within one’s self, keep in mind (a thing, lest it be forgotten). Mary will need to have these memories, these truths if you will, in a place where she can quickly recall them once the time comes for Jesus to do what he came to do: To save all people through death on the cross. In the last days of his life she will need to remember the angel’s announcement and the shepherd’s excitement as he is arrested, beaten, mocked, stripped, and humiliated. When she wants to step in and wrap her arms around him out of protection and motherly instinct, she’ll need to recall why he came. As she watches him take his final breath on the cross and commit his spirit to God, she’ll need those treasures in flooding abundance. Mary treasures up who she knows Jesus to be to help remind her that He came to save her.

What are the moments with Jesus you need to treasure up? Those spiritual markers that, when you look back, remind you of His plan and sovereignty. Are you storing these things up in your heart or letting them fall like seed on dry ground? As a mother, I can be certain Mary needed to remind herself of who Jesus was in order to get her through his horrific death. He was her son and she watched as he saved the world. I can also be certain God gives us moments where we can see him clearly as a way for us to recall his faithfulness when in the darkest times.

If you are lost or in the midst of pain, I pray for God open your eyes to his presence. I pray for a moment when shepherds will come to you, announcing good news of great joy- that Jesus has come. As we move into a new year, let’s treasure the things ahead.

Father, I thank you for Mary and her obedience and love for you. I am thankful for her submitted life to you and that it can be an example of what surrender looks like. God I ask that begin to store and treasure all the encounters we have with Jesus. Moments of kindness, generosity, humility, and goodness that come our way- Lord, don’t let us miss them! Help us to see you and remember your faithfulness. We can be certain that if you have been faithful even once, that you will be faithful again and again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

Held in the New Year

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.” Ephesians 1:4

The time had finally come … 6:00 PM. The occasion I embarrassingly longed for most of the day due to lack of energy … Baby’s BEDTIME. God Himself has blessed me with one of the sweetest human beings on this planet, but today, Mama was tired. My husband and I did our normal nightly routine with her; change her diaper, fill up her humidifier, brush the two teeth, and prayers to Jesus. By this time, she is usually getting the rest of her wiggles out as I begin to lay her in the crib. Tonight was different. Tonight, instead of wiggles, I was welcomed with snuggles. And I’m talking, calm, nestled in your neck – baby snuggles. I felt an intense wave of calm come over me as I spoke words from my heart straight into her little ear. As I held her against my chest, I was overwhelmed with intense love and a sneak peak into the powerful type of love our Father, God in Heaven, must feel about us; His children.

I often liken being a parent to walking around with your heart outside of your chest (as I’m sure many others do). In this moment, holding my one-year-old daughter, I couldn’t help but see a glimpse of His heart for us. We run around in our daily lives, busy and usually with lists and lists of things we “need” to do. Running around like wiggly toddlers who can’t seem to sit still long enough to get into the presence of a holy and loving Father. The Father who just wants to hug us so tight, arms wrapped – heart to heart, whispering His love for us into our little ears.

Held. Deeply loved.

Ephesians 1:4 tells us, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, (Emphasis Added). This just blows my mind. He CHOSE us before the foundation of the world, He PREDESTINED US TO ADOPTION. He LOVES us with a FATHER’S love. Not as a distant creator. But here. Immanuel…God with us.

I am so thankful for His grace and that unlike my own imperfections and shortcomings as a parent, He has none. Jesus Christ is never tired, wishing it were our bedtime so He could finally rest. The Holy Spirit is always there, praying and working on our behalf (Romans 8:26).

As we draw near the end of 2020, our eyes closed on a year past as we snuggle into the new year, may we humble ourselves like children (Matthew 18:4) and wrap our arms around our Father. His arms are ready and willing to embrace his precious children with a love so deep, nothing on this earth can compare.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for choosing us to be your children. Thank you for saving us from sin and death and welcoming us into your family, to live with you for all of eternity. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to pray for us and to lead us. Lord, please help us to crave a deep and personal relationship with you and if there are any who are reading this that ache at the thought of a loving father, please restore their hearts. Please help them to see you with Heavenly perspective, untainted by the sins of the world; a perfect love. I pray all of this in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Hope is a Person

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 15:13

One of my favorite things about Christmas is seeing all the lights…a reminder that the Light of the world is among us.

This week for the first time in 800 years, the Christmas star (actually 2 planets), as seen by the Wise Men, was out on display for the world to see. It was beautiful! Just like it is in paintings trumpeting as David proclaimed in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God”! A light in the darkness, shouting joy, peace, and goodwill towards men! A glimmer of hope in the dark of the world. Amazing!

God is a God of hope and He will remind us of His presence with us.

He speaks in a variety of ways, through stars, through lights, and even Christmas ornaments. My favorite ornaments have a reserved seat front and center on my Christmas tree. The lights reflect off the ornaments, as a reminder of His glory. These special VIP ornaments are comprised of baby pictures, wedding ornaments, and a beautiful pure white cross boldly proclaiming the word “Hope”.

This Christmas in particular, the cross displaying the word hope needed to be in the center, and it is what I see every time I look at the tree…focusing on truth, the truth of hope reflected by His light.

Romans 15:13 is a verse that has been a steady reminder that God is a God of hope, with a promise of joy and peace as I trust in Him. The problem is I don’t always trust in Him. And when I don’t, hope fades along with the joy and peace promised.

How do we, as believers, after all we are “believers”, believe? How do we trust and believe that God is who He says He is and He is trustworthy?

Hope takes faith. Loss is all around us and in our homes in close heart wrenching ways. If you personally are not grieving, most likely, someone you know is grieving in some way.

Holidays stir up all kinds of emotions. For many, family dynamics or lack of family are a cause of disillusionment. And this year, many cannot be with family for reasons that seem altogether unfair.

I want to, as your friend, encourage you to allow yourself to grieve. Take a breath. Sit. Inhale and recognize and acknowledge your pain. Then, I want to ask you to go one more step in faith. Faith steps toward hope. Look to your side. See you are not alone. Hope is a Person. And Hope sits with you. Look at the Person of Hope and tell Him your pain and then trust Him with it. Exhale as you give Him your pain in faith and trust. Now look to your other side. Someone else is hurting. Someone else is suffering the same. Step in faith toward that person, bringing Hope as a carrier of the presence of Christ, His light to others.  

He is in you…the God of hope.

Hope is a Person, who came in the form of a baby as a Savior to the lost, hurting, and broken. He is the Light in the darkness and He is found in us, and with us. He is right with us, more bright and more beautiful than the star, and not millions of miles away. Right here…Immanuel.  Jesus, we need you. God of hope, come and fill us will all joy and peace as we trust in you. In Your precious and glorious name Jesus, we pray. Amen.

MERRY CHRISTMAS BELOVED!!!

Sitting with Jesus {Guest Post}

Today’s post is written by Becky Crenshaw, a dear blogger and speaker friend.  This post is from a series written by Becky on Advent.  Thank you Becky for sharing with us today! 

“…who seated herself at the Lord’s feet.” Luke 10:39

I love all versions of Scripture. Nothing thrills me more than to take one passage and compare it across multiple spectrums of translations. But my FAVORITE always trends towards the Amplified Bible. There is something so exhaustive in nature about this version. With a “double-clicking”, if you will, of each word, it takes a 3-D look into a passage in a way that resonates with me deeply.

That being said, the Amplified version of this little phrase just melts me.

Mary “seated herself at the Lord’s feet.” Mmmmm. What do you notice? What does this look like? Can you picture it?

Mary made a choice. Jesus didn’t ask her to sit down. Mary saw an opportunity and took it. “If that is where Jesus is, then that is where I want to be, too.”

And where did she sit? Well, where a disciple sits, of course. At Jesus’ feet. Mary took her appointed place as a student of her Lord, making every effort to learn from her teacher.

And let’s just talk about feet for a second. We know that the Mary’s of the Bible were all about His feet, right? Just back in Luke 7 we see Mary (arguably by scholars our same Mary of Bethany) break open a very expensive Alabaster Jar of perfume to anoint his dusty feet. So whether it is the same Mary or not, the picture is still the same. Being at the feet of Jesus is a picture of worship, learning and humility.

So, sweet reader, how on earth does this translate to us in current day, Christmas rush, smart phone age, media indulgent America?

The answer is still the same. “Mary seated HERSELF.”

The choice is the “how.” Jesus is the choice we can make over and again. We can choose our place of worship, humility and learning every moment of every day. Emmanuel, God is with us, all day long.

We don’t have to wait for a surprise supper with Jesus. The Omnipresent is as much with you as He is with me – if we acknowledge Him or not.

LET’S SEAT OURSELVES by choice today and all Advent long.

Choosing What Is Better:

  • I am sure you have heard the coined phrase “Treat. Yo. Self.” at least once before!… As a believer, I encourage you to “Seat. Yo. Self.” (Couldn’t resist.). What does “seating yourself” look like today? (For example: grabbing your journal and writing out a prayer…. reading through a few Psalms and meditating on the meaning…. shutting off all the noise and sitting quietly – acknowledging God’s presence.)
  • The word Disciple by definition means “a follower or student of a teacher.” Have you ever really thought of yourself as a student of Jesus? Well, as Christians that is exactly what we are! Students of our Lord. If you have never viewed yourself as such, how does this change your approach to Him? What do student’s of Jesus do? What do you need to learn from your teacher today? Write out your responses to these questions in your journal.
  • What hinders you from seating yourself at Jesus’ Feet? What obstacles stand in the way of you seeing yourself as a student? Take this to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you overcome these hindrances.

Becky Crenshaw and her husband, Brent, live in Tennessee with their three, football-crazed and energetic boys.  Three children of which a doctor said she would never have. After losing her mother to cancer, Becky now has the great honor of caring for her 92-year-old grandmother, Ethel.

Brent and Becky served on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Tennessee for nine years, discipling college students and sharing the Gospel across campus. They are currently ministering to a new demographic in their city.  Brent serves as the Young Adult Pastor of their church, where they lead pre-marriage classes and help post-graduates plug into community with others their own age and grow in their own relationship with Christ.

To read more posts from Becky, you can visit her blog site at www.beckycrenshaw.com

You Are Not Enough…Jesus Is

Often we are admonished with uplifting mantra touting:

You are enough.

Follow your heart

Be you!

Even Dr. Suess agrees; his famous line sums it up: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

These affirming statements empower us to go out and be individuals; to take the world by the horns and discover our true selves. There are thousands of self-help books sold every day with these very phrases as tag lines to pull readers in. We all want to know who we truly are; to discover our inner selves.

Today I want to challenge the status quo.

Contrasted with the world’s view, He says:

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

From start to finish, the Bible tells of man’s incurable bent toward sin. Anytime we look within ourselves or do what “makes us happy” we end up further from God.

I spent so many years pursing “me” and trying to achieve the illusion that I was enough. I was strong enough to do things on my own. I was capable enough to make my own way. I knew my dreams and would stop at nothing to get there. But somehow, in the relentless search for self, I ended up lost.

Finding myself led me in and out of empty relationships; in an abortion clinic giving up the life of my first child; divorced and bitter. I was in a million tiny pieces exhausted with trying to put my puzzle back together. In search for myself, I actually lost my true self.

When we are too busy chasing ourselves, we ultimately stop chasing after a relationship with Jesus.

We are all desperately in need of Jesus.

But this is the good news. It isn’t up to us to be enough. We don’t have to be enough because He is.

Friends, we do not need to improve ourselves with catchy phrases that feel good, or one more motivational self-help guru. Making life palatable is not our goal…being made new is! Jesus came to make us new. We are new creations in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not slightly better or moderately good- we are brand new!

We are pleasing and perfect to Him when we come to him acknowledging our need for Him. On our own, no good thing lives deep inside of us, that’s why we need Jesus. If we are enough on our own, then His sacrifice was for nothing.

You don’t have to be enough—He is.

Follow Jesus, not your heart.

Be who you are in Christ Jesus—made new through Him.

Father, Thank you for creating us with a hole that only you can fill with Jesus. You are the author of our lives and know what exactly what we need; more than any earthly writers, speakers, or influencers can offer. Thank you giving us Jesus whose perfect sacrifice was once and for all. Thank you for making Jesus enough so our striving could be over. Father, we ask for renewed hearts and minds toward you and wait expectantly, believing you will do great things through our brokenness that would bring YOU glory. You are faithful and good, and we love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

Churching

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Today I was texting a friend of mine who tested positive for Covid last week to check on her. She is more than a friend, she is a spiritual mom and prayer mentor for me as well. She’s in one word…amazing. She sent me a text back that read:

“Improving…Thanks for churching…Gaining strength.”

“Thanks for churching” caught my eye. I immediately knew it was one of those funny iphone word corrects for “checking” but something about the word “churching” just seemed appropriate. I’ve never heard church used as a verb before but I like it!

In Psalm 23:4 we read, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

There have been times when I was in a valley, either physically, spiritually or emotionally, and there were people whom the Lord sent to be His hands and feet for me.

I remember a time when I was very sick, it was several years ago and I was sick for a couple of weeks…bad, couldn’t get out of bed, felt like I could die kind of bad. There was a friend who churched by bringing dinner for my family. There are many examples like this.

Friends have sat with me in hard places, listening, praying with me, crying with me in the middle of emotional turmoil and pain.

This is the body of Christ at work and it is needed and it is indeed churching.

Jesus churched.

Jesus was never afraid to step into the dark places, the hidden sin, the pain and suffering of His people. And we want and need to follow His example. He is with us in the valley, in our lowest points. Because of that truth, we can fear no evil for He is with us, His rod and staff comfort us.

Jesus often sends tangible evidence of His presence through others. When He seems quiet, look at the different ways He may be gently whispering, I’m here.

Perhaps you are one who is the valley today. If you are, please know you are not alone. I know what it is like to be in a valley and feel stuck. I know what it is like to want desperately to climb out of the valley, digging my heals in seemingly in vain just making tread marks in the dirt. I know what it is like to climb one step at a time, thankful for each time I felt more footing and the light at the top seemed to grow closer with each step.

Today, whether you are in a valley or feel on top of a mountain, I want to exhort you today to look around and where you might church. If you are in a valley, helping another often lifts us a step up as well.

Beloved, like Jesus, we need to be willing to be with our sisters and brothers in the valley, sitting, listening, praying…churching.

Jesus never meant for us to be alone in the valley nor feel alone. The Church was meant to come alongside and to walk with others in the valley and not fear, giving comfort. What joy it brings when someone is willing to sit in our pain with us, knowing we are not alone. What a kindness this is. This, my friends, is churching.

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you never leave us nor forsake us. Even in the valleys and darkest moments, you are there with us. Lord, I pray that You would show us how to be the Church and that we would be mindful of those around us. May the world see and say, “Thanks for churching!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.