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User Archives: Glynnis Whitwer

  • I Don't Feel Like Being Nice

    Posted on December 12, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

    Grocery shopping alone! Oh how I'd taken that luxury for granted before having children.

    As I headed to the store after dropping my children off at a church event, I was nearly giddy with the joy of it all. A whole hour to myself. I had it all planned. I'd start with a soda, and leisurely meander through the aisles, actually looking at my coupons and thinking through meal planning.

    No "Mommy can I get this?" or "I have to go the bathroom!" comments would interrupt my time. I was going to be the most effective shopper in that store!

    It felt like I had all the time in the world, and I was really enjoying myself. Until I looked at my watch. Then panic set in.

    How had that much time gone by? I'd been there over an hour. I wasn't finished and still had to check out.

    I grabbed the last items on my list, rushed to the checkout lines and scurried between them trying to find the shortest line. I mentally assessed the checkout clerks, trying to determine their speed. Glancing at my watch for the fifth time, I picked one hoping Murphy's Law would not apply to me.

    The clerk proved quick, and soon it was my turn. Although I could feel myself getting impatient (as I looked at my watch yet another time) I tried to keep it under control. But the time was really late. And not only did I still have to pick up my children, but I told my sister I'd meet her for lunch after that. Everyone was waiting on me.

    And then the clerk hit a snag. One of my items wasn't ringing up correctly. He called for backup. But the first manager couldn't help. "I'm sorry Ma'am," the young man cringed. "I'm going to have to call the meat department."

    Seriously?! I thought to myself. Just give it to me for free so I can go!

    I could feel myself getting more and more anxious. Everything in me felt like showing this young man how impatient I was. I could roll my eyes, sigh with exaggeration and set my wallet down hard on the counter.

    I sensed the Lord was telling me to be nice, but I didn't feel like being nice!

    Thankfully, then the Holy Spirit stepped in and clearly spoke to my heart: Don't sacrifice kindness on the altar of your impatience.

    Immediately I was repentant. I knew I was the one to blame for neglecting the time. Not this clerk. And rather than impatience, God prompted me to show kindness to this flustered young man who could not get my ham steak to ring up.

    "It's okay," I said with a sincere smile. "I'll come back another time."

    Whew, talk about a close call. I could have easily given in to impatience like I'd done plenty of times before. And then it probably would have snowballed. Especially when I got back to the church and my children sauntered up to the car. Yet rather than snapping at them to hurry, they got an apology and a much nicer mother.

    I so desperately want to be a woman who shows grace and kindness to others. One who puts the feelings of others above her plans. However, too often I allow impatience to direct my actions, sacrificing kindness when others most need it.

    God has such a beautiful, loving plan for us as we live together on this earth. In one sentence we have all the rules needed to get along: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32).

    At this busy Christmas season, it might be easy to feel impatient as stores are crowded and lines are long. If you're like me, you've got too much to do in too little time. Yet in the midst of the hustle and bustle, when impatience starts to rise, perhaps we might make a choice.

    Could we choose to be kind even when we don't feel like it?

    Perhaps we could even start a kindness revolution ... at home first, then work, church and the store. Rather than impatience, let's create a culture of kindness wherever we go, showing God's love to those who need it most.

    Lord, thank You for showing kindness to me when I least deserved it. Help me to be Your loving hands, feet and words to a world that desperately needs You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In what situations do you find yourself the most impatient?

    What things can you do differently to create a culture of kindness in your life?

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians

  • My Callused Heart Needs Softening

    Posted on September 25, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

    My daughter Cathrine held out her hands, palms up, for her brother to see. "Look, I have bumps on my hands ... what are they from?"

    Robbie ran his fingers over her palms and answered with the authority of an older brother, "These are calluses, you got them from lifting weights at school. Look at mine."

    He turned his hands over, and she ran her fingers over his palms and grinned.

    My children's hands are a resume of their work in the gym. Calluses formed to protect their tender skin from harm as they lift weights.

    I sat at the table, watching the interaction, and then looked at my hands. Smooth palms and short nails revealed my hardest workouts came at the keyboard, not the gym. But a thought skirted in and around my mind: Where else might calluses have formed?

    Turning back to my computer, my eyes stared out the window and my fingers stilled on the keys as an image came to mind. My heart ... covered in calluses.

    I closed my eyes and sighed. That explained a lot. My heart is harder than it used to be. And sadly, much harder than I'd like it to be.

    It's easy to see how I've gotten here. Each time I've been hurt, my approach to dealing with pain has been stoic. The warrior-like determination inside me to protect myself had affected the softness of my heart. With each offense, each lie, each rejection, I made a silent declaration to not be hurt like that again.

    I thought I'd handled things well because I hold no grudges. I'm desperately aware of my own sin and hold no accounts for offenses. But that image of a callused heart revealed the truth that I haven't handled offenses as well as I thought.

    It's hard dealing with people. We're all sinful and make choices that hurt others. But for me, over time suspicion replaced trust, and hyper-vigilance replaced peace. My empathy was diminished, which is a very dangerous heart-position for someone whom God has called to love others.

    I'm convinced these calluses aren't supposed to stay there. A callused heart may protect me from great pain, but it also keeps me from great love. To love deeply, to love like Jesus, requires risk. I'll be honest, that vulnerable position makes me want to wrap a few more layers around my tender heart, and vow beyond all measure to protect myself.

    This makes me ask a question I really don't like to ask. At all. Am I willing to risk being hurt to obey the call to love?

    King David, God's warrior, spoke of this decision as a "sacrifice." David was betrayed by those he loved and trusted. He had every right to seek revenge. And yet Psalm 51 speaks of David's desire for a pure heart and to tell others about God. In verse 17 he says, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise."

    Rather than choosing to protect his heart with pride, David chose brokenness and humility. He took his pain to God rather than move on like nothing happened. It's from this place of humility that God met David and cared for his broken heart. With God's care, it mended in a healthy way, free from calluses.

    There are some people I can't trust. But that doesn't apply to everyone. Rather, most are good folks who make an occasional mistake. They are the ones who need my softened heart.

    So here's my commitment. Rather than bandage my own wounds and act like I'm not hurt, I'm taking every offense to my Heavenly Father. Every day I'm praying, Lord, heal and soften my heart so I can love like You.

    Lord, You alone know the many ways people have hurt me. And You see the hardened places in my heart that affect how I love others. I'm asking You to break my heart in a good way, Lord. Be my protection from the rough rubbing of the world, so I can be Your hands and feet to a world in need of Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ezekiel 36:26, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (NIV)

    Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Are the hurts of your past affecting your relationships today? How?

    Is there something in you that resists admitting you've been hurt? If it's unhealthy pride, consider confessing that to God today and receive His healing.

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Sometimes God Doesn't Choose the "Perfect" Girl for the Job

    Posted on June 25, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. 'Go, look over the land,' he said, 'especially Jericho.' So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there." Joshua 2:1 (NIV)

     

    I used to believe if God needed something important done, He would ask someone who had it all together. You know those women. They never yell at their kids or have an emotional meltdown in the craft store over which tie-die kit to buy. They know what they're having for dinner each night and come to Bible study with their homework done.

    If God is going to assign an important job to someone, it's going to be a woman like that. A "good church girl." Right?

    That's what I thought until I read the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua. It gave me hope that sometimes the best woman for God's job doesn't have a perfect life or a perfect faith.

    In fact, Rahab's story tells me sometimes God chooses women with rough resumes, gritty pasts and dauntless attitudes to get a hard job done. Which is why God chose Rahab when He needed a brave and bold person to protect His warriors.

    Rahab was a prostitute who lived within the walls of the city of Jericho. Jericho was a great city, except for the fact that God told the Israelites to conquer it.

    The people who lived in Jericho weren't following God, but they had heard of Him and how He helped the Israelites win many battles. When the residents of Jericho learned the Israelites were camped outside their city, they were rightly concerned.

    As part of the reconnaissance, Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, sent two spies into the city. The Bible seems to indicate they made a beeline into an unusual place of refuge: Rahab's home.

    Now why would God direct them to the house of a woman? And one who didn't have the best reputation?

    There are many reasons why God might have chosen this particular woman to help the spies. But the one that strikes the deepest chord in my heart is that other people might have underestimated Rahab's potential based on her past and present circumstances. But not God.

    Rahab had guts and grit. When the spies arrived, instead of quivering in fear, Rahab thought fast and hid them on her roof. Then she redirected the king's men, making a way of escape for the spies.

    God could have chosen someone with a perfect pedigree to help. But on that day, inside the walls of the city, facing warrior spies in danger, none were available.

    Rahab, however, was in the perfect position, with the perfect disposition, to do the most good. And God must have seen something tender in the heart of this life-hardened woman and knew He could trust her.

    I love this about God. When God looked at Rahab, He didn't see her profession or her past. He saw her potential.

    And in spite of the challenges and choices of her life, He knew there was a part of Rahab's heart that was open to Him. And Rahab did not disappoint.

    The story ends with the spies escaping and God destroying the city of Jericho and everyone in it — except for Rahab and her family.

    I'm so glad Rahab didn't send the spies away, explaining that she didn't have the best track record with men. Instead, she used her smart, quick mind to devise a plan. She used her boldness to defy the king's men. She drew from her bravery to protect her family. She risked greatly, and it paid off.

    Rahab's story tells me that although I might list all the reasons why God wouldn't use me, God prefers I take my personality, my experiences, even the parts of me that seem less-than-pleasant and give them to Him ... every part of me.

    It doesn't mean He's going to leave me as I am; God is always refining me. But in His hands, my mess has meaning.

    Have you ever stamped "disqualified" on yourself due to your personality or something in your past or present? If so, I pray Rahab's story encourages you. God has a plan, and He wants you, in all your uniqueness, to make it happen.

    Sometimes God doesn't choose the "perfect" girl for the job ... and I'm so glad He doesn't.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for looking deeper than what others see, and for seeing my potential. Please help me trust that You want me just as I am and have a plan to use me in Your kingdom. Help me to trust You and Your plan for my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    I Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What good characteristics did Rahab have, based on what we can tell from her story in Joshua 2?

    Many times we disqualify ourselves based on our wrong choices, or the flaws we see in our personalities. As God looks at you through His lens of love and potential, what does He see?

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Joshua

  • You're Stronger Than You Think

    Posted on May 20, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)

    The first day of class, the exercise leader replaced the lighter weights I'd chosen with heavier ones. I tried to hide my skepticism as he said, "You're stronger than you think!"

    I shook my head in disbelief as he moved on to assess the next participant. No, I thought. I'm weaker than you think!

    It had been a few years since I'd been in an exercise class, and my confidence level was low. Never an athlete, I couldn't even do one push-up. And my legs felt like rubber bands after the first set of "warm-ups."

    I'd signed up for the early morning class out of determination to do things differently. It wasn't at all where I wanted to be at 5:30 a.m. two mornings a week, but earlier in the year, God challenged me to break out of my comfort zone.

    As I struggled to lift the heavier weights, I decided to glance at the women next to me. Normally when exercising I keep my head down and just try to survive. But that day I looked closer at my classmates. Some were older and spoke of grandchildren. Some looked like they were struggling too. I overheard one say she'd had a knee replacement.

    Hmmm ... if they can do this, certainly I can, too. Maybe I could try another class or two before quitting.

    The next class we all showed up, finding connection points over sore muscles. We laughed as we struggled to get off the mat. One said how hard it had been to walk up the stairs. I agreed.

    Maybe I wasn't the only one feeling weak. Somehow the idea encouraged me.

    Each morning, the thought of those other ladies showing up and rubbing sleep from their eyes motivated me to lace on my tennis shoes and head to the gym. Little by little, I felt more comfortable admitting my weakness, even laughing about it.

    In one particularly hard class, as I was the last one struggling to finish sit-ups, I heard a voice from my left, "You go, girl!" Something bold rose up in me at those words, and I thought, I can do this! Determination surged through me as I finished the last few sit-ups to the counts of my classmates.

    My positive attitude surprised me. Where did that come from? Although I was getting stronger physically, that wasn't the only area gaining strength. The encouragement from my classmates was making me stronger mentally, too.

    The first class, I wanted to keep to myself and hide my pain. But as the weeks progressed, the more I shared my struggles, the more others could speak into them. Their words encouraged me. Their presence reassured me I wasn't alone. Once again, God was teaching me how good it is to let others know I'm not perfect.

    This has been a problem for me all my life. I'd much rather be the one obeying our key verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone."

    I like being the one who warns, encourages and helps. I'm not so good at being patient, but otherwise I'm pretty good at obeying this verse. But for God's plan to be fully realized in the church at Thessalonica and in our lives today, at some point we need to be on the receiving end of this verse.

    This is the beauty of the body of Christ. God designed a loving check-and-balance system to deepen our faith and relationships. But in order for it to work, we have to accept being warned, encouraged and helped — allowing others to see our frailties.

    Unfortunately, there's a fierce and faulty independent streak in my thinking that fights being on the receiving end of help. My default approach is to hide my weaknesses, fears and insecurities, which opens a crack for unhealthy pride to sneak in.

    And yet what freedom there is in simply admitting: I can be a mess at times. When I acknowledge that, others can pray for me. They can encourage me. It's a double blessing of God's strength and that of others.

    God needs me to learn this truth. Admitting I need help breaks down my pride. It humbles me, which softens God's heart toward me. And it allows others to be obedient in caring for me.

    So, am I stronger than I think I am? Apparently so. But the best way to discover my strength is to admit my weakness.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing friends into my life who help me grow stronger. Forgive me for the sinful pride that has kept others from getting too close. Help me to understand it doesn't make me weaker to admit my weaknesses. In fact, it opens me to get stronger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Acts 15:40-41, "... but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Is it hard for you to share your struggles with others? What holds you back from being more open?

    Commit to telling one friend about a worry, fear or weak area of your life. Ask her to pray for you.

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Thessalonians

  • If You Really Loved Me, You Would ...

    Posted on April 14, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

    How could he do this to me?

    My mind raced as the digital numbers on the clock read 1:25 a.m. Then 2:15 a.m. I rolled on my other side, away from the clock's red glow, with the hope of finding sleep before my alarm rang in a few short hours. But racing thoughts made sleep impossible.

    Earlier that day, I'd learned about some bad choices my son made and then we'd had an argument. This news rattled my confidence as a mother and caused all kinds of questioning thoughts to keep me awake. Was I losing my son? Was he going down the wrong path for good? What did I do wrong?

    Somehow, during my middle-of-the-night mental rant, I worked myself to a dangerous place: I doubted my son's love for me.

    After all, my sleepy brain reasoned, if he really loved me, he would never have done what he did. He knew I wouldn't approve, and yet he still made that choice. How could he?

    After that thought had planted itself in my brain, my heart felt vulnerable and in need of protection. Something in my mind whispered, "take cover" and walls started to rise around my heart.

    It wasn't the first time I've wanted to retreat from what felt like rejection. Unfortunately, I tend to expect people I love to behave in ways I would ... to make choices I would. Or at the very least, to seek my advice and adapt their decisions based on my feedback. When that doesn't happen, I sometimes translate it as a lack of love.

    In those difficult moments, it seems safer to close off parts of my heart when I feel rejected or not validated. But I've learned that's a very lonely way to live. And it's far from the way God wants me to love.

    I've struggled with this kind of reaction for years, yet God continually challenges me to stop playing it safe. Loving others isn't easy. God didn't call me to play defense when it comes to love; He called me to play offense.

    In fact, God modeled this type of love by showing it to me first.

    Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Here's what this verse means to me:

    While I was making choices that would hurt God's heart, He sent His son, Jesus, for me.

    While I was rejecting God's ways, His Son was nailed to a cross for me.

    While I was choosing selfish ease and comfort over obedience, Jesus died on that cross for me.

    For me! And for you! We are women who don't always make good choices. We are far from perfect. We're messy, risky and difficult to love sometimes. And yet God chooses to go on the offensive to show us His love.

    My bad choices are just as hurtful to God as my son's bad choices were to me. Yet not once has God tried to place guilt on me by saying, "If you really loved Me, you wouldn't have done that."

    In fact, God did just the opposite. When God was justified to condemn me for my willful, selfish choices, He chose to remove my guilt rather than place more on me.

    Oh how this truth brings me to my knees! How can I place such heavy expectations on others when God doesn't place them on me? How can I withhold even an ounce of love to make a point, when I make so many wrong choices of my own?

    That night, I confessed my selfish thoughts to God and asked Him to help me be bold enough to be a woman of grace, not guilt. To be a mother who models His love and not my oh-so-flawed version.

    The next morning I embraced my son before he left for school. I spoke no words of condemnation, nor did I remind him of his choices. I texted him mid-morning: "I love you." He texted back the same.

    Later, my son walked in the kitchen. "Hey, Mom, can I talk to you?"

    We sat in the living room while he admitted how wrong his choices had been. Regret lay heavy; he was sorry. In fact, he was making a change going forward and was thankful for my love.

    Not every situation works out that well. But in this instance, I'm thanking God for His quick intervention in my heart and my son's.

    Loving others is messy, and I sure don't do it as well as God. But with His strength, I'll keep trying. It's definitely worth the risk.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my wrong thoughts, words and deeds. Help me to love others in spite of theirs and hopefully turn their hearts toward You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you withheld love from someone who has hurt you? How has it affected your relationship?

    What is one thing you can do this week to demonstrate love to that person?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (NASB)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Romans

  • I Really Should Have More Fun

    Posted on March 21, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:11-12 (NIV)

    Why is it so hard for me to stop working and just have fun?

    Other people have no trouble doing this. They look for any reason to drop the dust rags, ditch the dirty laundry, turn off the computer, and head to the park! Or the movies. Or a hike. Laughing all the way.

    I wish I were more like that.

    Couldn't the personality tests I've taken throughout the years just once show a different result? But alas, they always confirm what my family knows too well: I'm the responsible, serious one. The one who picks up cups and plates at someone else's party. And watches the clock at events to ensure they're on schedule. I'm the one who wants to make sure we get all the work done first — before any fun begins.

    Only the work is never done. When I finish one task, another sits waiting for me. There's always something more to do. As a result, I experience false guilt. All the time.

    Every strength has a good and bad side. The good side of being responsible is, well, I'm responsible. If I say I'm going to do something, you can be fairly sure it will get done.

    The bad side of being responsible is feeling like the weight of the world rests on me. It makes a girl crazy worrying about assignments that are hers — and even those that aren't. It's hard to relax. My heart can get resentful when others aren't carrying the weight of the world with me. How do they have so much time to not work?!

    The reality? Not every assignment is mine to do. To assume responsibility for more than is mine speaks of a lack of trust ... in God to do His job ... or in others to do theirs.

    I'm pretty sure this all-work-no-play routine wasn't the life Jesus intended me to live as one of His disciples. Carrying the weight of burdens that aren't mine to carry. Choosing to interact with a computer screen rather than being with people.

    The Bible values hard work, but Jesus' message is clear: Love God. Love people.

    In John 15:11-12, Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

    Jesus, with more to do in His three years of active ministry than I'll have in a lifetime, focused on His main assignment — to love people. Sometimes that meant teaching them. Or serving them. Yet other times it meant just hanging out. Enjoying dinner with friends. Celebrating at a wedding party. Welcoming children. These fun times weren't empty of significance. Rather they were filled with value as Jesus showed love in a different way.

    We love God and others when we work. And when we have fun.

    This is a truth I need to apply to my life more often. My idea of loving others is often shown by serving them. But some people feel loved when I simply spend time with them. And for some, that time needs to be a little less task-oriented and a lot more laughter-filled.

    That's my challenge. To be intentional about having fun. To initiate getting together with others. To say yes when invited. To stretch outside my comfort zone. And to relax about the details.

    Work will always be there — but the people might not be.

    God has a pretty good handle on managing the world. I can leave that job to Him while I grab a loved one and make a lasting memory instead of checking something off my to-do list.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for creating us to laugh. Thank You for putting in us the desire to enjoy life. Help me learn to relax and show love to others without worrying about the details. Forgive me for putting work before someone who needed my time and attention. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is it hard for you to have fun? What holds you back?

    Think of one fun activity you can do with someone this week. Make a call, send a text or email, and extend the invitation.

    Power Verses:
    John 2:1-2, "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (NIV)

    Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John

  • Reviving an Abandoned Dream

    Posted on March 3, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

    I sat on the couch during small group, dabbed the tears dripping down my face, and hoped the others wouldn't notice my emotional response to the message.

    While watching a DVD teaching about God-given dreams, a tender, hidden spot in my heart was coming to life. It was uncomfortable. Scary, in fact. I wanted to move toward it and away at the same time.

    The teaching wasn't on nighttime dreams, but rather those dreams that often start in childhood when anything seemed possible. And we were unhindered by the realities of genetics or abilities. We were sure to be ballerinas or fashion models, ignoring the fact that we couldn't do the splits, or that our height/weight ratio might be less than desirable for the runway.

    Personally, I imagined the day my favorite band would invite me on stage. Hairbrush in hand, I practiced my moves and vocal range preparing for my big break.

    That day at small group, the dream fueling my simmering emotions wasn't the desire to sing. For years another dream had been stirring in my heart, a dream that had been dampened by doubts and the logistics of adulthood. My dream was to write.

    Pain and excitement mixed as I allowed the dream to come to life, much like a foot that's fallen asleep when the blood flow returns. Doubt whispered around every thought. Was this dream from God or me? Did I have anything worth saying?

    My heart felt vulnerable every time I pondered the idea. If I told someone my dream, would they give voice to the litany of taunts in my head? I wondered. And yet the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that God was asking me to write for Him. When I finally accepted that truth, my attitude changed. Writing wasn't just an interesting idea, it was an assignment.

    I wish I could say I immediately started writing. But I didn't.

    Tucking the dream in my heart, I procrastinated. For months. Which turned into years. Thinking about my dream was much easier than acting on it, because it was going to take a lot of work and sacrifice. And there was always a handy excuse.

    Until one Sunday, my pastor opened prayer time with these words: "God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet."

    The Holy Spirit was playing the drums on my heart as I shifted from foot to foot. There was no question; God was calling my name. A flood of people headed to the front alongside me to address their own abandoned assignments.

    My pastor's challenge was what I needed to shift from a passive to an active approach in my writing. To move from disobedience to obedience. To step into an unfamiliar world believing that if God had called me to it, He wouldn't abandon me.

    God often gives directions through dreams. Yet, those can be the hardest to embrace because they seem too big for us to accomplish on our own. And sometimes they seem downright selfish. So we let them drift away.

    But dreams are also how God increases our faith. When we step into active obedience of an audacious assignment, we see God move and do things only He can do. Our key verse shows that God has the power to accomplish any dream He gives us: "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).

    It was 10 years ago when I embraced my dream as an assignment, and God has shown His power time and time again. There are still doubts and barriers to overcome, but my faith has grown each time God proves Himself faithful.

    Did God put a dream in your heart years ago? Maybe your dream was to adopt a child or go on a mission trip. Maybe it was to open your home to neighbors or lead teens at church. At the time your dream seemed too big or came with too many barriers. Now it's a hazy memory.

    May I offer the same challenge my pastor gave years ago? God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet. Will today be your day to accept your assignment?

    Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a dream to serve You and others through my gifts and talents. Help me see this dream as an assignment from You, and I ask for Your power to help me take the next step. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What dream has God put in your heart that you know is an assignment?

    What next step can you take to obey God's calling on your life?

    Power Verse:
    Mark 9:23, "'"If you can"?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians

  • I Don't Do Fancy

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 (NIV)

    I'm not a spontaneous or particularly fancy person. Some people I know are, and their creativity amazes me. They whip up a gourmet dinner from leftovers in the fridge and what's in the cabinet. They create craft projects out of dried macaroni, spray paint and shoe boxes. They can think of birthday party games, favors and food that leave the celebrant feeling like a million bucks.

    Not me. Ask my kids.

    I'm thankful four out of five have summer birthdays and we have a pool! Cut up a watermelon, order pizza and voila!

    It's not that I didn't care. Or that I didn't want to do more. But for so many years in my early parenting, I was overwhelmed with managing a job, home and very active children. Plus I believed my celebrations had to look a certain way. Since I didn't possess many creative skills, I always felt like a party-failure.

    It was years later I realized most people don't really remember all the whoopla of a big party. There might be some shock-and-awe at first, but when the streamers fall and the balloons droop, people are more apt to remember moments inside those events. For example, at my 8th grade graduation, the only memory I have is of my older sister fixing my hair. Granted it was a long time ago, but her loving gesture meant the world to me.

    People just want to feel loved. Remembered. Noticed. Valued.

    That's how we were designed. God created us with a heart and soul to receive His love, so we could share it with others. In fact, loving God and each other is our highest calling. The Bible says it this way, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

    Jesus said this, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12, NIV). The New Testament shows that Jesus loved His disciples by spending time with them, and caring about them deeply. He didn't need anything fancy to show His love.

    Fancy's not wrong. Some people show their love through their creativity. And I applaud them. But for those of us who walk out of a craft store crying because we can't figure out which tie-die kit to buy, maybe a simpler option is more our style.

    Maybe for some of us, we need to remove the self-imposed unrealistic expectations. Maybe we need to focus more on showing love rather than having our centerpieces match what we saw on Pinterest.

    I've learned that it's often the little things that speak love to my friends and family. It's sitting outside at that summer pool party and watching the silly jumps off the diving board. It's abandoning the dishes to play a board game. It's an impromptu potluck dinner with friends on paper plates.

    While I'll still try to make things pretty and creative, it's not my focus. My goal every day is to show love to my friends and family somehow. I may not always accomplish that goal with perfection, but I can come closer to it with God's help than I'll ever be able to pull off a spectacular birthday party.

    Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I've gotten so worried about how my dinner or gathering looks that I've neglected what matters most to You. Open my eyes to ways I can show Your love to others, making them feel valued. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Remember a special event where someone made you feel loved. What did that person do?

    What can you do this week to show someone you care deeply for them?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." (NIV)

    John 15:12, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 John

  • Things Have Got to Be Different This Year

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." Luke 5:4-6 (NIV)

    "Something's got to change!"

    Have you ever said that in January? I sure have.

    It's usually when I'm frustrated with myself for something I'm not doing. For example, my broken-record complaints focus on the same three things: losing weight, better managing my work load, and spending more time with people I love.

    It's not for lack of trying my situations don't change; I work hard. But recently it dawned on me that I keep trying the same things in varying measures. I tried adding five minutes to my elliptical routine, and spent more time on my emails. Results: clothes still tight, inbox still overflowing. Time with family? I'm not sure more trips to the grocery store together qualify.

    The problem isn't my effort; it's my approach. Something has to change.

    There's a story in the Bible where Jesus told a disciple to change his approach. It happened at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, as He was identifying and calling His disciples.

    In Luke 5, Jesus borrowed the boat of the fisherman called Simon Peter to teach the people on the shore. When He finished teaching, Jesus told Simon to put the boat in deep water and let down the nets.

    Simon surely was skeptical. Can't you see him raising his eyebrows as he looks at Jesus then at the water? He explains he's been fishing all night and hasn't caught anything. What he doesn't say, but might have thought is: Day isn't the best time to fish. Besides, all these people on the shore have probably scared them away. And no disrespect intended Jesus, but you are a carpenter/preacher—I am a fisherman. I might know a little something about fishing.

    But to Simon's credit he obeys Jesus' unusual request to fish differently. The Scripture records they caught so many fish the nets began to break.

    This story challenges my status quo. It's a call to change my approach to problem solving. If I want things to be different this year, I must do things differently.

    For me, like Simon Peter, this starts with listening to and obeying the voice of Jesus for new directions.

    This is hard for a routine-loving girl like me. I'm not a fan of different because it often feels uncomfortable. I prefer to keep things the way they are ... except that doesn't always work.

    So I prayed about these three areas in my life, and asked God to show me a fresh approach for each. Being a faithful God, He gave me some options to shake up my routines.

    1. Rather than go to the gym at night and stick with the elliptical machine, He asked me to go in the morning and incorporate strength training. So I signed up for a morning exercise class at church.

    2. Rather than try to manage my emails by spending more time on them, I'm unsubscribing to every list. I'll visit websites and blogs on my schedule.

    3. Realizing I've become too inward focused, I've made a list of special days, activities, and places I want to go where I can invite others to join me.

    That day on the lake, Jesus invited Simon Peter to go into the deep waters—a place Simon had been many times before. But under Jesus' direction and with a new approach, Simon saw amazing results.

    Can the same be true for me? For you? As we start 2014, may we become women who listen for the voice of Jesus as He speaks new ways into old habits. May we raise our faces to the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. And may we trust Jesus as He takes us in to deep waters, where under His direction, we'll see amazing results.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God of new things. You have called me in to new life with You, and Your ways are higher than mine. Help me see those areas of my life that need a breath of the newness of Your Spirit. I want to be a woman who sets aside her comfort and routine to fish in deep waters with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What problem have you been trying to solve in your life by using the same approach as always?

    Pray and ask God to show you one thing you can do differently starting today.

    Power Verse:
    Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

  • He Sees You Right Where You Are

    Posted on December 17, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." Luke 2:8-9 (NIV)

    It's interesting who the Bible records as the first to hear the good news of Jesus' birth. It wasn't a king. Or a religious leader. Or a rich man. It wasn't to anyone in the center of attention and importance. It was to shepherds. Dirty, smelly shepherds.

    It's also notable that it wasn't broadcast in the day. It wasn't announced with trumpets on the temple steps as hundreds crowded to offer sacrifices. Or proclaimed in the marketplace in the middle of a busy day. It was night, in quiet isolation.

    The fields weren't where important people visited. Especially not at night. And that night the dark field was covered with sleeping sheep and tired shepherds. Just them. Outside the world's notice. Men performing a wearying task at a wearying hour.

    Of all the ways and to all the people and at all the times God could have announced His Son's birth, He chose this way, these people, and this time of night.

    Luke 2:8-9 tells us, "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." (NIV) God saw those shepherds right where they were that night. He noticed their work; He noticed them. And He had a message of hope they desperately needed to hear.

    It's a message I've needed to hear many times. I've needed to know that God saw me in the dark. When I've felt alone. And in need of a message of hope.

    As a young mom there were many nights I held crying babies, wondering if I'd ever feel normal again. Would I ever get to sleep through the night, wear clothes without baby drool, or have an adult conversation?

    I've worked late, worried over finances, and wondered when help would come. Did God see me working so hard? Did He see me wrestling with problems or how tired I was?

    The message to the shepherds tells us God does see our hard work and long nights. And He doesn't sleep. He doesn't prefer those in authority. He doesn't leave us alone. And He has a message of hope for each of us.

    I see you, rocking your crying baby at 2 a.m., doubting you'll ever sleep again.

    I see you, up late studying while the rest of your classmates have fun.

    I see you, pacing the floor wondering when your teen will get home.

    I see you, working an extra shift to help pay the bills.

    I see you, sleeping on the couch fearing your marriage can't be repaired.

    I see you, sitting with a friend who received the worst news of her life that day.

    To you, the news of the angels to the shepherds is yours as well.

    Behold ... pacing mother, hardworking student, worrying wife ... to you is given "good news that will cause great joy for all the people." (Luke 2:10 NIV)

    To you ... exhausted mommy, anxious sister, steadfast friend ... "a Savior has been born ... he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:11 NIV)

    It was no mistake God sent His angels to the dark fields and to the humble shepherds that night. He sent a message of good news to those who desperately needed to hear it.

    Today, in your place of darkness, isolation, weariness ... God sees you and sends the same message: A Savior has been born for YOU.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for caring about those who feel alone, forgotten, and weary. I confess I feel like that some times. Thank You for seeing my needs and sending Jesus to be the answer to all of them. In His Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you ever wonder if God sees you? Trust that He does and spend some time in prayer today.

    Besides the reasons mentioned in the devotion, why else might God have chosen to announce His Good News to the shepherds?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (NIV)

    Psalm 121:3, "He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber ..." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

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