Jesus calling by Sarah Young

6 Truths to Help You Understand Grief

No matter what losses I experience, in my life, I know that nothing can separate me from Your loving Presence! – Jesus Listens, October 21 When you are grieving, it can feel like that single emotion controls every aspect of your life. From your relationships and physical health to your ability to work or do the simplest tasks, grief is ever present. If you don’t have proper care and a plan of action, grief will assume control of your life. But before you can take effective action, it’s essential to understand the strong emotions you’re feeling. Want to understand grief a little more? These are six things you need to remember: 1. Grief Is Universal We feel grief so personally that it’s easy to think we are alone in our suffering. But sooner or later, everyone will feel the sting of grief. R...

Ending the Self-Esteem Battle for Good

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I won’t give up. Instead, I’ll look to You and Your strength. – Jesus Listens, July 31 For years I struggled with feeling good in my skin. I would go on a diet and do pretty good for a few days, but then life would get busy, my daughter would get sick, or my motivation would fade. I would fall off track, eat my favorite things, and then plan to do better next time. This cycle caused a negative conversation in my mind: Why did you eat that? Why can’t you stick to a diet? Why didn’t you work out today? If only you could reach your fitness goals. I lived with an ever-present feeling of failure. Jesus wanted to eat with me One day at church, I cried out to God. I couldn’t take feeling this way anymore. I needed a breakthrough. We were studying Revelation, so I ope...

In the Dark of Winter, We Can See His Light

“Hope keeps you spiritually alive during dark times of adversity; it brightens your path and heightens your awareness of My Presence.” – Jesus Calling, December 15 Where I live in the mountains of southwest Virginia, Advent arrives with the beginning of winter. Night gathers quickly Night gathers quickly, with a deep darkness settling in by the time we settle around the table. The ground that only a few months earlier burst with life lies dormant, under a chill that never seems to lift. From the warmth of my kitchen, I look out the window to see my once-lush garden encrusted with ice, full of thick, heavy clods of earth, and littered with the remnants of cornstalk and pumpkin vine that twist up among the table scraps.  Bringing forth life Closer to the house, ornamental beds of l...

Our Big God Doesn’t Make Small People

“You, the Mighty One who created the universe, live in me!” Jesus Listens, July 2 If you are anything like me, at some point you have dealt with the warring thoughts of wanting more out of life but feeling guilty about your lack of contentment. If God wanted to give me more influence, ability, or fulfillment, He would have, right? I think sometimes. Isn’t my desire for more an indication of a lack of gratitude—or even worse, rejection of what God has for me? I’m not the only person who has thoughts like that this, am I? Getting Answers From the Bible As a pastor, I spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and I love it. Like, love love it. Not only because Scripture holds life, truth, and keys to unlock God’s miracles in my own life—though that’s the main reason—but also because there i...

Just for Today, Lord

“Help me to walk in the way of wisdom—trusting You no matter what happens in my life.” Jesus Listens, September 19 He was given the gift of one day. One sunset. One sunrise. Just one rotation of the planet before he left it. Unlike the average American, he wasn’t gifted with almost eighty years of life on this earth. No, he was given the gift of one day. However, the way Jude Samuel Shook unwrapped the divine gift of his one day gave us, his grandparents, a gift that has changed the way we now live every day. A little boy who lived on this earth for just a handful of hard-fought hours taught us how to live our years. Jude’s Story Our son Josh and his wife, Kelli, found out at their twenty-week pregnancy doctor’s visit that something was severely wrong with Jude’s kidneys. The doctor explai...

Feeling the Warmth of His Unconditional Love

Sometimes I hear you whispering in my heart, “I take great delight in you.”It’s hard for me to receive this blessing, but I know it’s based on theunconditional Love You have for all your children. Jesus Listens, May 2 We live and feel deepest from the gut, not from the head. The love I have for my child, the way I felt during the first dance at my wedding, the doubled-over weight I’ve held staring into the casket of a lost loved one, and the laughter that comes from watching my niece open a gift on Christmas morning—none of that emerges from an intellectual equation I’ve solved. It comes from somewhere deeper, somewhere more instinctive, an emotional place. That’s how author of Hebrews describes Jesus’ response to sin and the havoc it wreaks on our lives—a gut-level, emotional response of ...

Thriving Through the Unexpected

“Help me not to let unexpected events throw me off course. Instead of getting upset or anxious, I want to respond calmly and confidently—remembering that You are with me.” Jesus Listens, November 3 In the years since I found out I had cancer, plenty of people have asked me why I think I got sick in the first place. Why did this happen to me? Why does cancer happen to anyone? I actually love that question, because it gives me a chance to share the story, once again, of my mother’s prophetic words. My simple answer is that this happened to me because I was chosen. A Legacy of Firsts If you know anything about me, it’s probably that I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to serve others by being a “first.” First Black senior class president of Kennedy High School in Richmond, California. O...

The Three Best Words for the Brokenhearted

“I can invite You into those broken places and collaborate with Youin putting the fragments back together in new ways.” – Jesus Listens, July 3 In fresh grief, well-meant words can sometimes wound. Even now, I shake my head at the unhelpful comments I made as a young mom handing over a hot casserole and the painful comments said to me a few years later after my husband died. So when a radio host recently asked me for the three best words to tell someone in grief, I perked up. Maybe it’s “I love you,” I thought as I waited for his answer. Those words sure comforted me as a new widow. Or maybe it’s “let me help.” Practical love is so needed when life falls apart. But neither guess was correct. The three best words to say to someone in grief? You’re not alone. The deepest comfort comes w...

5 Ways Fasting and Prayer Can Boost Your Faith

“My soul thirsts for You—the living God. The deepest yearnings of my heart are for intimacy with You, Lord.” – Jesus Listens, June 30 You have the choice to change your life with a simple decision. If faithfully done, choosing to fast and pray will alter your existence, rock your spiritual world, and bring your life on this earth into God’s perspective. I was drawn to fasting when I read in Matthew 6:16 that Jesus didn’t say “if” you fast, but “when” you fast. I knew I needed to follow what I believed was a call to fasting, but where to start? Most think a fast only pertains to food, yet in scripture we read that Daniel fasted from specific things: “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Daniel 10:3 NIV). E...

The Life-Changing Power of Speaking a Blessing

I am speaking to you continually: words of Life . . . Peace . . . Love. Tune your heart to receive these messages of abundant blessing. Jesus Calling, September 21 Other than praying, what should we do when someone we love isn’t living up to their potential? We can bless them. God blessed Adam and Eve and then released them to be fruitful, multiply, and rule. For most of my life, I believed the opposite. I assumed that if I performed well, then I would be blessed. But Genesis 1:28 radically upends the order of events. With God, the blessing is not the reward for productivity—it’s the power for it. Blessing is a positive, faith-filled vision spoken in accord with God’s Word over someone’s life. It’s stronger than encouragement and altogether different than prayer. Though often unfamiliar to...

The Art of Substitution

Make Me central in your consciousness by praying continually: simple, short prayers flowing out of the present moment. Jesus Calling, February 22 What had started as a pleasant evening ritual for my friend Meg—a glass of wine or two while watching the evening news—had quietly turned into a controlling habit. Over Thanksgiving, Meg’s daughter told her that alcohol dependency was causing “wreckage” in the family, and she had to do something. Shocked, humiliated, defenseless, Meg checked herself into a rehab facility. During Meg’s stint at rehab, she learned a valuable strategy: the art of substitution. Sheer will power wasn’t sustainable. Self-denial would only get her so far. Instead of focusing on denying herself a pleasure, Meg learned to replace that desire with something positive. A gla...

Faith Strengthening Our Biggest Spiritual Muscle

On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives—giving up or relying on Me. Jesus Calling, September 8 My young son was in a drugged sleep on a potent drip of antibiotics. He needed two more surgeries in his tender brain, which would bring the total to five since the massive hemorrhage in his brain tumor three months earlier. There had been glimmers of light. He’d laughed, and I’d even heard his voice at the neurological rehab where he was learning how to walk, talk, and eat all over again. He was coming back, then he’d had a setback. More surgeries were scheduled. I called my friend Joan and explained the situation. “You don’t think you can do ...

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