Story

Pushing Through Prayer Obstacles

When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. Jesus Calling, January 11 I sat staring at my computer screen, trying to write a sermon for Sunday, and a full hour passed before I realized I had nothing to offer. The church my wife and I started from scratch was 4 years old and growing like crazy. I, however, was not. I was spiritually exhausted, defeated, and depleted. My only connection to God was tethered to the content I was struggling to create for others. Something had to change. I needed another way to connect with God and refuel my spiritual life. I needed prayer. Finding it hard to pray But the truth is at some point in our l...

Pushing Through Prayer Obstacles

When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. Jesus Calling, January 11 I sat staring at my computer screen, trying to write a sermon for Sunday, and a full hour passed before I realized I had nothing to offer. The church my wife and I started from scratch was 4 years old and growing like crazy. I, however, was not. I was spiritually exhausted, defeated, and depleted. My only connection to God was tethered to the content I was struggling to create for others. Something had to change. I needed another way to connect with God and refuel my spiritual life. I needed prayer. Finding it hard to pray But the truth is at some point in our l...

Empathy: A Key to Loving Our Neighbors

“Learn to relate to others through My Love rather than yours…Instead of trying harder to help people through your own paltry supplies, become aware of My unlimited supply, which is accessible to you continually.  Let My Love envelop your outreach to other people.” Jesus Calling, May 12 Early in our marriage, my husband and I experienced two miscarriages a year apart, followed by years of infertility. It remains one of the hardest seasons of my life. Even though I had good friends, a loving family, and a supportive faith community, I felt alone in my grief. Well-intended Words The platitudes started within days of my first miscarriage. An older woman came to visit and casually mentioned her own miscarriage. “It was early, first trimester,” she said. “I was fine. You’ll be fine too.” Ye...

Seeing God’s Beauty All Around Us

“My world is filled with beautiful things; they are meant to be pointers to Me, reminders of My abiding Presence.” – Jesus Calling, June 6 It’s the end of the day, and I’ve been searching for my slippers. I am so annoyed. In this one simple and meaningless failure, I do what I sometimes do: I consider myself a failure. This one little thing spirals into a weight on my chest, and I can feel depression and anxiety slowly creeping in.  Our house is littered with shoes. There are shoes by doors and couches, beds and chairs, here and there and everywhere. I trip over them often. Under my desk, where I write and sit most of the time, there’s always a pair or two strewn about, since I kick them off when I sit in my chair cross-legged.   As the night falls and the routine of the day...

Connecting to Your Final Destination

A life lived close to Me will never be dull or predictable. Expect each day to contain surprises! Resist your tendency to search for the easiest route throughout the day. Be willing to follow wherever I lead. – Jesus Calling, January 13 As I slid my bag onto seat 28E, I uttered, “Lord, just get me there!” I made small talk with the stranger beside me and felt the familiar nervous flutters in my stomach that come whenever I travel. Several hours later and 30,000 feet above the Midwestern plains, I let out a relieved chuckle as I crunched stale airline pretzels and sipped bubbly ginger ale. An hour later we landed in Denver. As we taxied to the gate, I turned my phone back on and received the text no traveler wants to get: my connecting flight was canceled. I was to collect my checked b...

Wrestling with Faith and Expectations

With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent. Jesus Calling, January 9 Our Expectations Has Jesus ever behaved differently than you expected? Or maybe differently than you wanted? If God has ever moved—or not moved—in a way you desired, then you know the sting. You know the hurt. You know the confusion that surrounds you, threatening to suffocate your faith. If you have ever felt this way, please know you are not alone. John the Baptist is just one example of a person’s faith tested in the furnace of trials. He, too, felt the sting of wondering what Jesus was doing—or not doing. He had been a voice in the wilderness, a wanderer waiting anxiously for Israel’s Messi...

One Church’s “Jesus Calling” Story

Pastor Cindy Ryan Sometimes the best view comes when looking backward. I am a pastor in a 2,800-member Methodist church in Texas. Like most pastors, my days are filled with typical church happenings: programs, studies, ministries, church members’ needs, planning, and leading weekly worship. Five years ago, I became aware that some women in our church were reading the devotional book Jesus Calling. They had been buzzing about the impact the book was having in their lives. But honestly, church members buzz often. They regularly tell their pastors about books or devotional materials we should read. With a full ministry plate and a busy family life, I’d had no time to read Jesus Calling, even to evaluate it. Their words and recommendations barely registered. Little did I know, God had a differ...

A Family’s Journey Through Addiction

Finding Hope One Day at a Time After both going through divorces, Steve and I, former high school classmates, reconnected. We’ve been married for twenty-seven years now. I had two sons, Brandon and Sean (now thirty-four and thirty-one), from my previous marriage. The boys always called Steve Dad, and he never felt any differently. Two years after we were married, our daughter Shannon was born (now twenty-five). We attended church regularly, participated in the kids’ sports, had family and friend get-togethers. Life was good. But fifteen years ago, our world began to crumble right before our eyes. We never could have imagined what was coming. Sean had always been the center of attention, outgoing and well-liked. He was a hard worker with many ambitions and dreams. Sean’s first job, at fifte...

The Wickes Honor Their Mother After Her Cancer Battle

‘Active and engaging’ would be two words to describe our mom, Amy Wicke. Outgoing and personable, she made friends quickly, and most of those friendships lasted her entire life. Her real passion was exercise. She loved running, bicycling, swimming, weight training, and aerobics classes—anything to keep moving and be outdoors. Mom’s age didn’t slow her down either. We remember her lobbying our dad to get us a trampoline, but she probably wanted it more than we did. Amy Wicke and Kids Our mom was also very competitive. When she was younger, she competed in gymnastics and swimming at a very high level. No matter what type of activity she was engaged in, Mom always wanted to improve. It turns out that her drive and competitive spirit would serve as an inspiration to many . . . In October 2002,...

A Lifestyle of Service To A New Generation

Utther Finau: My Mother’s Example I could tell you so much about my mom. I can still feel her amazing hugs that seemed to dissolve all my problems and can picture the smile that remained on her face even through the excruciating pain she endured. I could talk at length about how much I love and miss her. But what I remember the most is my mother’s love of giving. My mother, Atelina (Lina) Finau, truly had a servant’s heart. She always put others’ needs before her own, whether it was for her family, friends, or even complete strangers. Her desire to give came from her strong faith in God, and the greatest lesson she ever taught me was that we were put on this earth to help one another and that these selfless acts bring praise to the Lord. My mother followed her own teaching. She seized ever...

A Pastor Finds Strength and Grace to Lead Through Community Crises

By Dr. Cindy Ryan, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church Our senior pastor, my friend and colleague Ken Diehm, died suddenly in February 2011. Our congregation was rocked by waves of shock, grief, and change. I did the best I could to cope with my grief while pastoring a hurting church. I leaned daily on the words of Jesus Calling where I perceived God was telling me to look up and trust Him, no matter what. Six months to the day after Ken’s death, I found a lump in my breast. I was forty-nine years old and was not overly concerned but decided to have it checked. My doctor sent me for a mammogram. Those doctors recommended a biopsy. A few days after that, while at a staff planning retreat, I excused myself from my coworkers to answer a call from a number I didn’t recognize. A wom...

Letting Go – My Daughter Goes to College

Writer’s Digest award winning author, Sherri Gragg, reflects on the struggles and triumphs parents face as she prepares her oldest daughter for her journey to college.  by Sherri Gragg, author of Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in The Savior’s Presence Grieving in New Orleans Sometime around 3:00 a.m. The Big Easy finally settled down to sleep. Behind more layers of locked and barred gates and doors than I had ever experienced, I lay awake in the dark next to all that mattered most to me: my sleeping seventeen-year-old daughter. She wanted to leave me, you see, and I, like some kind of idiot, seemed to be assisting her in the process. I packed my bags and drove her across four states to an adorable Victorian rental that had looked so much more secure on VRBO (Vacation Renta...

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