Monday

4 Steps When Life Gets Hard



Betrayed, persecuted, grieving, uncertain, confused, abused, afraid, and struggling. 

Can you identify with any of these words? Most of us can, especially these days. 

Life is a struggle, and most days we feel the angst of living in a difficult world, with difficult people, under difficult circumstances. Throw a pandemic, societal unrest, and economic hardship in the mix, and you've got a formula for a major panic attack.

I think this is why God includes stories about real people in the Bible. Reading other people’s stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly, gives us perspective and, most important, hope. 

King David was a man who experienced just about everything life can throw at someone. His memoir includes a humble beginning and an exalted ending. He came to faith early, and God used him in mighty ways to lead the nation of Israel. He also disappointed God greatly and lived much of his life with the consequences of his sin. 

The book of Psalms records many of his soul-searching, gut-wrenching conversations with God. Psalm 71 is one of them. Listen to David’s cry: 

“O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. . . . in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. They say, ‘God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now’” (v 1,2, 9-11 NLT). 

His example reminds us that it’s OK to pour out our hearts to God when we are distressed. But Psalm 71 isn’t just a lament and cry for help. It’s a prescription for how to weather difficult circumstances. 


Listen to David’s 4-step plan as outlined in verses 13-17: 

1. Don’t lose hope. David expresses his commitment to trust God: “But I will keep on hoping for your help.” No matter what happens, we must never stop believing that God hears and answers our prayers. 

2. Don’t stop praising God. “I will praise you more and more,” he says. “I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power.” Praising God reminds ourselves and others that God is good, even when our circumstances are not. 

3. Don’t forget what God has done. “I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord.” Reflect on the many ways he has worked in the lives of faithful men, and remember how he has worked in your own life. God’s long history of faithful care for his children strengthens our faith, because we know God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

4. Don’t stop sharing your faith with others. “I will tell everyone that you alone are just.” Sometimes when difficult circumstances enter our lives, we’re tempted to slander God with our words or our lack of faith. We must resist, choosing instead to take a faith stand and continue to testify of God’s goodness, no matter what. 

If you’re betrayed, persecuted, grieving, uncertain, confused, abused, or struggling, King David’s four-step plan for weathering difficult circumstances is powerful and effective. 

My prayer for you is that you will soon be able to testify, as David did, “You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again, and bring me up again from the depths of the earth. You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side” (v 19-21). 

What about you? When you struggle, which examples from Scripture give you hope? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading via email, click here to visit Hungry for God online, scroll down to the end of the post, and leave a comment.






Does Your Faith Need Refreshing?

That's in the Bible? I've never noticed that before!

It's probably been too long since you've newly discovered a story that speaks to your soul or a verse that pops with truth. But that's about to change!



Refresh Your Faith contains 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions, one from each book of the Bible. Each real-life story spotlights an unusual verse or Bible passage that you may have overlooked in your usual Bible reading. Lori Hatcher challenges you with additional features like an uncommon thought to ponder; an unusual faith action step; and an unfamiliar passage suggestion for additional Bible reading.

When the fabulous has become familiar and your quiet times are more like nap times, it's time to step out of spiritual boredom and ignite the spark that will keep you growing. No matter where you are on your faith journey, Lori's conversational and engaging style will challenge you to think about things you've never thought about before.

“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman, commenting on Lori Hatcher's devotional style




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.


Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.




5 Ways to Cure a Critical Spirit -- On Revive Our Hearts



The acid we used in Chemistry class burned everything it touched. It ate a hole in a block of wood, etched deep scars in a metal basin, and permanently marred a plastic tabletop. 

We donned goggles and gloves and used special beakers designed to hold the caustic liquid, but we were still hesitant and afraid. Our teacher’s warnings had put a healthy fear of injury in our minds. Many opted out of the experiment, and the rest of us performed the necessary steps as quickly and carefully as possible, relieved when we could rid ourselves of the poisonous fluid. 

Now that I’ve stepped out of the classroom and into the laboratory of life, I’ve discovered a parallel to the acid we experimented with in high school. Psychologists call it a critical spirit. It doesn’t come with a warning label, but its characteristics are similarly destructive. 

Critical words eat holes in tender souls. 

Critical minds etch deep scars in families, marriages, and friendships. 

Critical hearts mar forever the shine and beauty of faith, hope, and love. 

Threatening to steal the joy from everything that isn’t perfect and everyone who falls short of its expectations, a critical spirit is a ravenous beast that devours many an honest effort, loving gesture, or kind deed with nary a backward glance. 

A critical spirit poisons every relationship it touches. The pressure of an impossible standard is too heavy to bear. Those in relationship with one who possesses a critical spirit are always trying and always falling short. Sometimes they stop trying altogether. 

Three poisonous roots support the critical spirit tree:

Click the Link HERE to read the rest of the article.


Does Your Faith Need Refreshing?

That's in the Bible? I've never noticed that before!

It's probably been too long since you've newly discovered a story that speaks to your soul or a verse that pops with truth. But that's about to change!



Refresh Your Faith contains 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions, one from each book of the Bible. Each real-life story spotlights an unusual verse or Bible passage that you may have overlooked in your usual Bible reading. Lori Hatcher challenges you with additional features like an uncommon thought to ponder; an unusual faith action step; and an unfamiliar passage suggestion for additional Bible reading.

When the fabulous has become familiar and your quiet times are more like nap times, it's time to step out of spiritual boredom and ignite the spark that will keep you growing. No matter where you are on your faith journey, Lori's conversational and engaging style will challenge you to think about things you've never thought about before.

“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman, commenting on Lori Hatcher's devotional style




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.


Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.





What Are You Waiting For?




I don’t wait well. Long drive-thru lines, grocery stores with ten customers and one cashier, even slow downloads make me grumpy. The longer the wait, the more I struggle with patience. 

I find it especially difficult to wait for something I want badly. The grown up version of “I just can’t wait ‘til Christmas” becomes, “Why isn’t my career, financial situation, ministry, relationship, or ____________(fill in the blank) getting better? When will something change?” 

I suspect you struggle in similar ways. You desperately want your husband to get a new job so finances will improve and he’ll be happier. You struggle with a prodigal child, a difficult marriage, or a challenging ministry, and you wonder when the breakthrough will come. You give and give and give, and pray and pray and pray, and some days you wonder if you’re just wasting your time. Should you give up on the hope, the dream, the prayer? 

James, the half-brother of Christ, penned words of encouragement for times like these: 

“Be patient, brothers . . . See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient” (James 5:7-8). 

Since most of us aren’t farmers, we miss the profound significance of this metaphor. It speaks volumes of hope to those of us who are waiting. 

Every day we plant a hope. We water it with effort and prayer—sometimes a lot of effort and prayer. Sometimes years of effort and prayer. And we wait. And we wait. And we wait.

Occasionally we see glimmers of what might be happening beneath the surface, but often we don’t see anything but flat, black earth. Sometimes things even seem to get worse, and we wonder, Is God at work at all in this situation, or is he off tending to more important business? And we grow weary. 

What we miss by not being tillers of the earth is the necessary process of waiting. Did you notice that in the two short verses above, James used the word patient three times? Three times. 

No farmer expects to plop a seed in the ground and come back the next day to harvest an ear of corn. He recognizes that time, warm dirt, and gentle rain will one day cause the seed to produce a harvest. 

But not today. And not tomorrow. 

He also knows that the flat, black earth isn’t a barren wasteland. It’s an incubator for growth and change. 

How does this apply to our wait? A wise counselor once told me, “It’s your job to plant the seeds, but only God can make them grow.” 

If you’re in the period between sowing and harvesting, please don’t despair. And don’t give up. Continue to pray, sow, and water, and, I promise you, the latter rains are coming. And then comes the harvest. 

“He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). 

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16). 

What are you waiting for? If you’ll leave a comment in the comment box, I’ll add my prayers to yours, and together we’ll wait (patiently) to see what the Lord will do.





Does Your Faith Need Refreshing?

That's in the Bible? I've never noticed that before!

It's probably been too long since you've newly discovered a story that speaks to your soul or a verse that pops with truth. But that's about to change!



Refresh Your Faith contains 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions, one from each book of the Bible. Each real-life story spotlights an unusual verse or Bible passage that you may have overlooked in your usual Bible reading. Lori Hatcher challenges you with additional features like an uncommon thought to ponder; an unusual faith action step; and an unfamiliar passage suggestion for additional Bible reading.

When the fabulous has become familiar and your quiet times are more like nap times, it's time to step out of spiritual boredom and ignite the spark that will keep you growing. No matter where you are on your faith journey, Lori's conversational and engaging style will challenge you to think about things you've never thought about before.

“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman, commenting on Lori Hatcher's devotional style




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.


Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.




6 Ways to Fight Fairly


At first, sheltering in place presented a beautiful (albeit forced) opportunity to spend extra time together with those who share our household. As the social isolation measures have continued, however, our extended time together has brought out the best and the worst in us. 

The fear, frustration, and disappointment that have characterized these days have challenged even the best relationships and family dynamics. At my house, my family and I have had great conversations and not-so-great conflicts. We've laughed, and we've cried. We've hugged, and we've argued. I suspect you can say the same.

God used my morning walk one day to remind me of six principles for fair fighting. I hope you'll find them helpful. 

The lesson began with the neatest pile of yard trash I’d ever seen. 


My neighbor had cut every limb exactly the same length. The tops of the branches faced the street, the cut ends faced the yard. Each limb lined up a foot from the road like soldiers at attention. He'd tucked four palm fronds neatly among the other evergreens at evenly spaced intervals, adding a decorative flair to an otherwise monochromatic pile of greenery. It was picture worthy. 



Farther down the street, another neighbor had also dragged yard debris to the road. His pile looked nothing like Neat Nate’s. An irregular mound of soggy leaves graced one end. A hodgepodge of carelessly flung branches, yard netting, and a Chick Fil A box completed the display.




A third neighbor added his contribution to the trash man’s collection—a black bag filled with unknown contents tied tightly and flung to the road. 


The variety of trash piles reminded me of a marriage Bible study I'd participated in. Most helpful was the section on conflict resolution.

I thought about my family’s history of conflict resolution. Sometimes we’ve been like Neat Nate. We’ve organized our conflict and given it socially acceptable labels. The Silent Treatment. Adolescent exploration. Boundary Testing. Passive aggression. Micro and macro disobedience. Somehow giving it a trendy name and pigeonholing it made us feel a little more in control of our struggles. 

At other times we’ve been too weary, frustrated, or hopeless to do anything other than dump our conflict on the side of the road for all to see. Our transparency was a cry for help and prayer. 

Finally, there have been times when we were too ashamed, too disheartened, and too hopeless to do anything but throw a big, black bag over the top of it so no one but us would know how ugly it was. 

Chip Ingram, in the study, Experiencing God’s Dream for Your Marriage, makes two significant points about conflict: 

1. Conflict is normal. 

2. Conflict is an opportunity for growth. 

He says, “Conflict is inevitable. Every time you bring two people together, there will be conflict. The question is NOT ‘how do we have a conflict-free marriage?’ The question is “how do we deal with the conflict that WILL come?’” 

In the 30 years we’ve been married, my husband and I have grown a lot in how we deal with conflict. We still have a lot of growing to do. After our recent Bible study, we set a few ground rules, in advance of our next conflict, to ensure that we fight fairly. 

Here are our ground rules for fair fighting: 


1. If I’m not ready to talk about what’s bothering me, I’ll tell you. I will not give you the silent treatment and leave you wondering. 

2. If we agree to delay the discussion, we will address the issue in a timely manner. No sweeping stuff under the rug until it accumulates into an ugly mess. 

3. During our waiting period, we will still act in a loving manner toward each other. (No monosyllabic answers, cold shoulders, or drawing uncrossable lines down the middle of the bed.) 

4. When we talk, we will use “I feel” sentences instead of “you always” or “you never.” 

5. We will listen actively, repeating what the other has said if necessary. 

6. We will acknowledge that while conflict can come from selfishness, as Ingram says, it can also arise from differences in belief, perspective, and style. Conflict is not always because of sinful behavior. Sometimes it’s simply the result of two very different people living in the same household. 

Perhaps, like my husband and me, you’ve always thought of conflict as dangerous and harmful. In light of this different perspective, we’re encouraged by Ingram’s statement that if we deal with conflict in a healthy way, our marriage will not only survive, but THRIVE. 

What have you learned about healthy conflict? Do you have a rule for fair fighting you’d like to add to my list? Why not leave a comment and share your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.




Does Your Faith Need Refreshing?

That's in the Bible? I've never noticed that before!

It's probably been too long since you've newly discovered a story that speaks to your soul or a verse that pops with truth. But that's about to change!



Refresh Your Faith contains 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions, one from each book of the Bible. Each real-life story spotlights an unusual verse or Bible passage that you may have overlooked in your usual Bible reading. Lori Hatcher challenges you with additional features like an uncommon thought to ponder; an unusual faith action step; and an unfamiliar passage suggestion for additional Bible reading.

When the fabulous has become familiar and your quiet times are more like nap times, it's time to step out of spiritual boredom and ignite the spark that will keep you growing. No matter where you are on your faith journey, Lori's conversational and engaging style will challenge you to think about things you've never thought about before.

“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman, commenting on Lori Hatcher's devotional style




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.


Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.




Sunday

Is Your Former Life Holding you Back?



You learn to be prepared for anything when you date (or marry) someone in the ministry. 

Before I met my husband I dated a man I'll call John. John pastored a small church in a small town and drove a conversion van with squeaky shocks and no air conditioning. 

For our first date, John invited me out to dinner after church on Sunday night. He wanted me to visit his church and hear him preach. Then we’d grab a bite to eat. 

If you’ve ever visited a small church, you know there’s nowhere to hide. And when you walk in with the young, single pastor, it’s impossible to slip in unnoticed. I’m not sure “unnoticed” was John’s plan as he marched me down the center aisle and seated me smack dab in the middle of the second row. Next to a lady with blue hair and her hard-of-hearing husband. 

“The preacher’s got a girlfriend,” she said to her husband in a stage whisper.

“Huh?” her husband replied, cupping his hand to his ear. 

“The preacher’s got a girlfriend,” she repeated a little louder, leaning in to his good ear. 

“The preacher’s got a GIRLFRIEND?” he bellowed, bending forward to look at me. “Well it’s about time!” 

I smiled weakly and prayed for the service to begin so I could blend into the congregation. After the opening song and before the offering, John stepped to the pulpit. 

“I have a special guest with me this evening,” he said. “I’d like you to get to know her a bit. Lori, would you come up here and share your testimony with the church?” 

So much for blending in, I thought, as I willed my body to rise. A thousand thoughts swirled in my mind as I made the all-too-short walk from the second row to the pulpit. I’d accepted Christ as my Savior two years earlier, but this was the first time anyone had asked me to share my story. And in front of the whole church, no less. 

Gripping the lectern, I faced the congregation with a wobbly smile. “I’ve heard a lot of testimonies of how people got saved,” I said, fear making my voice tremble. “‘God saved me from drinking,’ or ‘God saved me from drugs.’ Well,” I paused. “God saved me from hell.” 

The hard-of-hearing man on the second row snorted, and several others laughed. 

“I didn’t drink or do drugs. I was a “good girl.” I studied hard. Obeyed my parents (for the most part), and didn’t run with the wrong crowd. But I was just as lost and in need of a Savior as an alcoholic or a drug user.” I took a deep breath. “Salvation isn’t as much about where you’ve been as it is about where you’re going. And I was going straight into an eternity without God.” 

The apostle Paul shares his testimony in the first chapter of 1 Timothy. Writing to encourage a young pastor (I wonder if Timothy had a girlfriend?), Paul shares a poignant glimpse into his life before Christ. 

“I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.” Elsewhere he provides greater detail. “Many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:10-11). 

BUT. And this is one of the most powerful buts in the Bible.

“But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (v. 1:13). 

Many of us allow our former actions to silence our witness and hinder our usefulness for God. “I could never speak (serve, lead, teach, mentor, minister),” we say, “because of what I did in my former life.” 

But there’s the key—our former life. 

If you’ve been born again, the old has gone. The new has come. We may not be perfect, but moment by moment, day by day, God is at work in us conforming us to His image and making us new creations. 

Paul knew what we need to know—that our past doesn’t disqualify us to speak for Christ. It qualifies us. If we’d lived a perfect life (and none of us have), we’d have no hope to offer. When we share how lost we were and how deep God was willing to reach down to rescue us, we share powerful hope. 

The same God who saved a wretch like me can save a wretch like you. And make no mistake, we’re all wretches (to quote the old hymn). “Good” girls are no more fit for heaven than “bad” ones. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). 

Paul understood this, and we should, too. 

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (v. 1:15-16). 

That day in church I joined the ranks of the alcoholics and drug users to testify that all our former life proves is that we all need Jesus. 

What were you formerly? What are you now? 

Will you trust God with your past and invite Him to use it for His purposes? 

Who knows who God might reach through your story—present and former.

Now it's your turn. Do you struggle to share Christ with others because of your past? Does Paul's story help you look differently at your former life? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.




Does Your Faith Need Refreshing?

That's in the Bible? I've never noticed that before!

It's probably been too long since you've newly discovered a story that speaks to your soul or a verse that pops with truth. But that's about to change!



Refresh Your Faith contains 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions, one from each book of the Bible. Each real-life story spotlights an unusual verse or Bible passage that you may have overlooked in your usual Bible reading. Lori Hatcher challenges you with additional features like an uncommon thought to ponder; an unusual faith action step; and an unfamiliar passage suggestion for additional Bible reading.

When the fabulous has become familiar and your quiet times are more like nap times, it's time to step out of spiritual boredom and ignite the spark that will keep you growing. No matter where you are on your faith journey, Lori's conversational and engaging style will challenge you to think about things you've never thought about before.

“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman, commenting on Lori Hatcher's devotional style




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.


Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.