The Longing to Be Free from Fear

I contributed this brief article to Gentle Leading’s Mama Advent Devotional, an email series for moms about how the coming of Christ fulfills a longing we experience in motherhood. It’s not too late to sign up


Mary, the mother of Jesus, was minding her own business when a fearful thing happened: She was visited by an angel of the Lord with extraordinary news.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30–33)

Mary was overwhelmed by such a divine visitation (v. 29), let alone by the astonishing news that she would carry God’s Son in her womb. This would be a miracle of undeserved grace, and an exercise of her trust in God. I wonder about the questions that might have crossed her mind: What would her family think when she was suddenly pregnant? What would Joseph think? What would it look like to raise God’s Son?

In our longing to be free from fear, we can take Mary’s story to heart. God hasn’t spoken to us by an angel, but he has spoken to us through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). The baby he conceived in Mary’s womb is the Savior and Lord who frees us from fear and calls us to trust.  

What fears are weighing on your mind right now? Maybe it’s your kids’ safety and wellbeing. Maybe it’s your own fear of getting sick this winter and having to mother through it. Maybe you’re wondering what your kids will think when the gifts under the tree are few this year. Maybe you struggle with the fear of inadequacy and failure, or the fear of being judged by others.

Me too, Momma. I long to be free from these fears, to live day-by-day, moment-by-moment with a deepening trust in God’s character and heart. The good news is that God says to us what he said to Mary: “Do not be afraid.” We see in her story three truths that will increasingly free us from fear.

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By Faith with Christine Hoover: On Chronic Lyme Disease and Suffering

I had the pleasure of talking with Christine Hoover on her podcast By Faith, about Lyme disease, suffering, and learning to trust God.

Christine’s new book, Searching for Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Timetouches on these topics among many others. She’s one of my favorite writers, so you won’t want to miss this book!

Click here to listen

2017 Reading Favorites

The saying is true: Less is indeed more.

Or shall I say fewer? I chose to read fewer books this year, with the goal of comprehending and enjoying them more. And it worked! Rather than pressuring myself to read 50 books in haste, I didn’t set a goal; I simply read. I chose one or two books at a time and relished their messages (instead of five or six at a time, rushing through them to meet my goal).

In fact, I’m not even going to tell you how many books I read. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many you read—just that you read, and engaged the mind, imagination, and heart God gave you. (If you read one book and grew because of it, good for you! If you didn’t read any, set a goal to read at least one great book in 2018. You won’t be sorry!)

So, yes, 2017 was another year of great books. The titles I’m sharing with you below were my favorites, and they follow the criteria I first used in 2015’s Reading Favorites article:

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Don’t Miss the “Hope When It Hurts” Ministry Pack Giveaway!

To walk with others through suffering is a wonderful gift from God.

That’s why we’ve created a special giveaway for you. The Ministry Pack contains two books: one to keep, and one to give to a friend. Whether you’re the one hurting, your friend is struggling, or you’re both enduring a difficult time, walk together through Hope When It Hurts and discover how Jesus is our eternal hope.

In honor of Hope When It Hurts’ launch month, we’re giving away three (3) Ministry Pack Giveaways!


Enter to win a giveaway package when you leave a comment below.


We’ll announce the winners on April 27, 2017.

Thank you for your support, prayers, and ministry to one another!

ministry-pack

 

22 Prayers for Your Bible Reading

Reading the Bible before praying is like putting the cart before the horse.

The proverbial horse is the Holy Spirit of God, who empowers and enlightens our Bible reading as we mine the depths of his Word. The proverbial cart makes up our willing eyes and hungry hearts, the Spirit-led choice to crack open our Bibles and pursue his everlasting truth.

The cart must be pulled by the horse; our efforts to read must be motivated and helped by God’s grace and power. Christians come to God’s Word willing and hungry because he first made us willing and hungry to receive—but only he can enable us to receive. This is why we ask for help before we start reading.

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God Be Glorified in Me

“God Be Glorified in Me” was written for a project created by The Orchard Songwriters, called Give Us Words. I hope you enjoy it!

God Be Glorified in Me

More of You, and less of me
This is my heart’s cry
May You increase, let me decrease
You alone be lifted high
Your name be praised
Your name be praised 

CHORUS
God be glorified in me
In my waking and my sleeping
In my thinking and my speaking
You alone are worthy, Lord
Fix my eyes upon Your greatness
Humble me to Your holiness
O God, be glorified in me.

For Your glory, not my own
My life an offering
Here I kneel before Your throne
Remove the veil, let Your glory be seen
Your name be praised
Your name be praised

CHORUS

(Copyright 2013, Give Us Words by Kristen Wetherell)

Join Me in #MakingMercyGreat

May I make a request of you?

Yesterday, our pastor wrapped up his series on contentment in the Christian life. (It is nothing short of excellent, so please listen if you have the time!) Of all the sermons and points he preached, I found myself continually going back to one application in particular: “the rhetoric of the Spirit.” It has already proven in these past three weeks to be an enormous grace during times of hardship, pain, and suffering.

Here is what Pastor Colin preached:

Make more of your joys than you do of your sorrows. Make more of your gains than you do of your losses. Do this in your thinking, in your speaking, and even in your praying, and you will grow in contentment. I’ve included praying here because of what Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). If you do this, “the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7).

So bring your requests to God. But if your prayers are only a long list of requests, your praying will not bring you peace. All you are doing is filling your mind with problems in the presence of God. Don’t let your prayers become an exercise in worrying on your knees! Bring to mind the blessings of God in your life. Give thanks for all Christ has done for you and for all that you are in him. Bring your requests to God, with thanksgiving, and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.

Luther has a wonderful comment about “the rhetoric of the Spirit.” (Rhetoric relates to speaking, and so “the rhetoric of the Spirit” is Luther’s way of describing how the Holy Spirit speaks.) “If a cross comes, to make the cross but little, but if there is a mercy, to make the mercy great.”¹

The Devil has a different way of speaking, “If there is a cross, the Devil makes it greater than it is, and so brings discontent. And if there is a mercy, it is the rhetoric of the devil to make the mercy less. ‘Aye, indeed,’ [the Devil] says, ‘the thing is a good thing, but what is it? It is no big deal.’”²

When you are listening to music, you have some choices as to how it will sound. You can turn up the treble or you can turn up the bass. The music is the same, but it will sound quite different depending on the settings that you choose.

Turn up the ‘mercies’ in the music of your life. The rhetoric of the Spirit magnifies your mercies! A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit makes more of their blessings than they make of their sorrows.

[1] Cited in Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p. 155, Banner of Truth, 1964. [2] Ibid., p. 156.

Let’s Start Something

Brothers and sisters, can we start something here today? Can we resolve to make more of our joys than we do of our sorrows? I’m envisioning a wave of mercy-filled thanksgiving that proclaims the greatness of God’s mercy, so that our struggles, sufferings, and pains become smaller in comparison.

So many of you are suffering. So this is for you, and for the body of Christ as a whole. Do this in the privacy of prayer, or add it to your social media feeds. Make the crosses in your life but little, but if there is a mercy, make the mercy great!

Here’s mine to start:

A great mercy is going shopping at the big grocery store, and making it through without pain! #MakingMercyGreat

A few practical ideas:

1. Pray

Take Pastor Colin’s suggestion, and don’t let your prayers become an exercise in worrying on your knees! Make God’s mercies great, especially as you commune with God in prayer.

2. Post on Social Media (#MakingMercyGreat)

For the sake of being encouraged by each other’s mercies, let’s call it #MakingMercyGreat on social media. Any time you see God’s mercy and desire to “turn up the ‘mercies’ in the music of your life,” use the hashtag to tell us what you are thankful for!

3. Send Me an Email

really want to hear about how God’s mercies are making your crosses but little. Send me an email: kleighwetherell@gmail.com. (If I can use your “mercy” on this blog, let me know. I might put together an article with a bunch of them listed.)

Take one of these actions right now. Ready, set, go!

How to Date with Holiness, Honor, and Humility

I was flabbergasted and a little shook up. About four years ago, as I progressed through the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I was flabbergasted that couples existed who waited to kiss until their wedding day and shook up because, if God commanded this, then I had already blown my chance over a high school romance.

Even still, something was not sitting right with me about this premise. So I went to my pastor.

We sat in his office and talked for a solid hour about the purpose of this book and the thoughts it advocated on dating. I still have the email he wrote to me, finishing up our conversation. He said:

I also think we need to be wise about our dating approach. To go out to dinner and a movie with a “date” is one thing. To go for a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods is putting oneself in a situation where one is more removed from helpful boundaries…

Helpful boundaries. Let’s talk about them.

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2015 Reading Favorites

Well – I’m no Al Mohler, and I certainly wouldn’t qualify for Tim Challies’ “obsessed” category on his Reading Challenge…but I read more books this year than I thought possible. Shout out to Tony Reinke, whose book Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books spurred me on to do so! 

My husband and I decided to set aside other activities (ahem, television) in favor of reading. While “obsessed” may not be the right word, we are certainly more hungry than ever to research good titles, put together a hearty stack of reads, refine our note-taking process, and then mull over and discuss our thoughts about each book upon its completion.  Continue reading