5 Secrets You Need to Know About Saying No

Plus FREE Action Plan Checklist

I’ve heard from several readers lately who want some help saying no—without guilt! In this post, I share five secrets that helped transform me from a chronic people-pleaser to a more healthy person who knows when and how to say no. So if you cringe when you’re asked to do something you know you need to pass on, you need to learn these secrets!

Saying No…

…Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Christian (Secret #1)

For believers, Jesus is our model. Previously, I wrote a post reflecting on the apostle Paul’s call for us to have the same mindset as Christ. So, one of the best guilt-relieving strategies is to read the Scriptures and notice how often God says no. (I’ve listed a couple of examples on the 5 Secrets to Saying No Action Plan Checklist. Grab your copy now!)

God is good all the time. And He says no frequently. Thus, we must conclude that it is not ungodly to say no when appropriate.

And that’s the catch for most of who struggle with this skill. How do we know when it is appropriate and godly to say no? And that leads us to the second and third secrets.

…Can Be the Most Loving Response (Secret #2)

God created each of us to be responsible for certain aspects of our life. If someone is capable of handling their responsibilities, but not willing to do so, God calls that irresponsibility. It is not loving to enable irresponsibility in others.

This is totally different from someone being in a crisis situation that they are unable to cope on their own. Life in this fallen world can overwhelm our God-given ability to shoulder some burdens. In those instances when our load becomes a legitimate burden, it is appropriate to ask for help. And as believers, when we are in a position to help carry someone’s burden, we want to respond lovingly and graciously.

Check your motive for saying yes. If it is fear-based (fear of guilt, looking bad, rejection, etc.) you’re probably well-within the bounds of love to say no. You need to deal with your fear and let the one asking for help deal with their responsibilities.

However, if your motive is to help someone do something because you have the capacity and resources and want to freely share those, then your yes is probably the godly response. Are you capable of helping them get their head above water without drowning yourself?

Jesus was capable of overcoming death and we were not. He left his position of glory to dive down into our swirling shipwreck and save us. He did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. And he had the capacity and resources to do so. Living cruciform is not the same thing as living as a doormat for irresponsible people to use and abuse.

…Without Guilt IS Possible! (Secret #3)

Once you ground your thinking on this topic in God’s character as revealed in the Scriptures and you understand how to determine if your yes will enable irresponsibility versus help shoulder another’s legitimate burden, you’ll begin to feel the guilt dissipate.

You’ll also be better prepared to counter manipulative responses to an appropriate no.

If you are gripped by fear or guilt, you probably need to brush up on your boundary-setting basics. Learning the biblical principles of healthy boundary setting will equip you to give voice to guilt-free nos when appropriate. I’d be happy to send you my FREE Boundary Basics email series. These five articles will get you up to speed on the basic principles of godly boundary setting.


…Gets Easier with Practice. (Secret #4)

Boundary setting and saying no is a skill. And as with any skill it takes time to hone your knowledge and capability. Planning and practicing your new skills will make it easier for you to get that no out in real life circumstances.

Also, it can be extremely helpful to have a more experienced boundary-setter mentor you and model the skill. As you see someone else put the strategies into practice in day-to-day situations, you’ll realize you can do it as well. And they can role-play situations you regularly struggle with so you’re prepared with the words (and will) to follow through without beating yourself up.

You’ll learn how to give a no with grace. Saying no doesn’t have to be callous. A good no is given while communicating respect and concern for the one requesting something. Practicing with a mentor will help you polish your wording so as to graciously decline.

On the Action Plan, you’ll find some tips and suggestions related to selecting and approaching your potential mentors.

…Leads to More Peace, Less Stress (Secret #5)

When you are empowered and equipped to extend a godly no, you’ll begin to get your head above the waves of overwhelm.

You’ll be exercising better stewardship over your resources and God-given realm of responsibilities.

This will mean you have the margin and capacity to be a strong bearer of burdens for people who really need your help; instead of being loaded down with the castoffs of the shiftless sluggards.

Again, you’ll want to grab the Action Plan as I’ve got three simple questions you need to ask yourself about the yeses you’ve already given that should have been nos.


Loving doesn’t always equate with pleasing. Love anyway!

Let's explore what godly love really means.

Love never fails. It may feel like you’ve fallen flat on your face sometimes, but true, godly love never fails. It perseveres through trials of all sorts. It speaks truth even when it hurts, but it does so with grace and a heart for the best interest of the other person.

The worldly view of loving someone is often equated with pleasing them. Not offending them. Not asking anything of them. Its a love of convenience; of unruffled feathers.

But that is not the way God loves and it isn’t how he calls us to love as his disciples. Godly love involves both truth and grace. And because of that, it won’t always mean the giver or the recipient will experience the act of giving and/or receiving godly loving as pleasant.

The classic words penned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 are often read sentimentally. But if we will slow down and dig into the Scripture we will see he is calling us to something far more than a warm fuzzy feeling. He is calling us to love in self-sacrificing ways for the benefit of those we love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 12:4-8a

1 Corinthians 13_4-8NIV

Love is Patient

Patient in this context means exercising understanding and patience toward people.  It could also be translated as longsuffering or enduring patiently as opposed to hastily getting angry and being quick to punish.  One of my dictionaries also pointed out that it is a quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.[1]

Love is kind

The word translated as kind carries with it a willingness to help or assist.  To be kind is to serve others and help them.

Love does not envy or boast

Envy means feeling discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, or possessions. In love, we rejoice when others do well.

When we boast, we speak with exaggeration and excessive pride, especially about ourselves. Godly love is humble. 

Love is not proud

The word proud in our language has both a positive and negative connotation.  Here the Greek is more like saying, “Love is not puffed up or arrogant.”

Love does not dishonor others

When we exercise godly agape love, we don’t behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner.[2]

Love is not self-seeking

Worldly love is always striving for what is best for self.  Godly love is always striving for what is best for others.

Love is not easily angered

Now, please notice, this does not say that love never gets angry.  Anger is an appropriate response to a violation, but agape is not easily provoked to anger or indignation over little things.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

This is a trickier phrase to translate.  In the original it literally means to think no evil, but the words also can mean to take no account of the evil that is done to one.  The gist of this concept is not having one’s mind occupied with counting up the wrong that has been done to you.  That sounds to me like love doesn’t hold a grudge.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.

The word for evil is a Greek word for injustice, what is out of harmony with what is right and true.”[3] Agape rejoices when the appearance of something agrees with the reality of it.  In other words, love has integrity.  It is not happy when there is injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love Always…

Now the next few are also a little bit tricky, but it helps to recognize Paul grouped the three together for a reason.

All three actions have to do with handling difficult situations or people.  It helps to understand these if we can see the interconnectedness of these qualities. Also, remember the ultimate focus and source of these qualities is God, not necessarily the object of our agape love.

Love always protects.  This phrase can be translated several different ways, each capturing a little of the original meaning.

Look at some various translations and see what I mean:

  • “Love quietly covers all things”[4];
  • “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes;”[5]
  • “love bears all things.”[6]
  • The literal translation is “all things covers quietly.”[7]

Now at first glance that may sound like love covers up wrongdoing, but since earlier in this passage (and elsewhere in Scripture) we are taught love is not happy when there is injustice but rejoices in integrity, we know that a cover-up of evil can’t be the meaning here.  It is more subtle than that.

It is more along the lines of love doesn’t drag someone’s faults out into the open and harp on them.  Agape addresses sin but deals with the sin in a manner which provides dignity and grace to the sinner while the sin is being dealt with.

Love always trusts, a word that can also be translated “has faith” or “believes”.  So you will see this phrase translated variously as:

  • “Love believes all things,”[8] or
  • “love is ever ready to believe the best of every person.”[9]

Obviously Paul is not saying that agape believes anything or is gullible because we’ve already seen how important truth is in the exercise of agape. I think it is more like, agape believes that in God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26).

There is no situation or person beyond the ability of God to bring about change, healing and wholeness.  We can trust in all situations that our sovereign God is able to accomplish His will and purposes.

Love always hopes, or expects with desire[10].  Agape is living and loving expectantly.  It is expecting the desired outcome regardless of (or even in spite of) the circumstances.

Agape places its hope not in the circumstances but in God’s ability to bring to pass that which He has said He will accomplish and what is best for us and His kingdom purposes.

Love always perseveres.  Earlier, when we covered “love is patient” I pointed out the focus there was the kind of patience one exercises toward people. In this phrase, the concept of persevering has to do with the patience in the face of hard times.

Agape can persevere in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances because agape’s source of security and strength is God not the circumstances.

Now, it would be easy for this concept to get twisted with regard to how one exercises agape when the difficult circumstance one faces is an abusive relationship.  I want to clarify this concept by connecting it to something we discovered about agape earlier.

When we say that apape love endures difficult circumstances, I want to be clear I’m not saying that if one finds themselves in an abusive situation, agape calls for you to just take the abuse and endure it.

No! Remember all the other aspects of what agape does and is.  Abuse is out of harmony with the character and will of God.  As someone who has been in an abusive relationship, I know firsthand how much perseverance it takes to get out of that circumstance.

I strongly encourage you, if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, please seek out the support and counsel of knowledgeable and capable people who can guide you with wisdom about how to handle and resolve that situation.

If someone tells you that this verse (or any other verse) means you should just endure it, seek wiser counsel!

So remember, agape can persevere in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances because agape’s source of security and strength is God not the circumstances.

Finally, love never fails.

The word translated as fails means love is never in vain. God’s kind of love never falls away or falls back in the face of opposition.[11]  Love stands its ground and the effort is never in vain or without effect. We may not see or experience the fruit of our loving action, but we can be assured that God will bring about a result.

That is who God is and how he acts out his love for YOU!  It is pretty awesome and amazing isn’t it?

Godly love is not just a sentimental Hallmark concept!

God’s nature and character are fully and completely expressed in this agape love that we’ve just described in detail.  When God acts, He acts out of who He is and that action is expressed through agape love.

And that love has tremendous power to change lives and circumstances! This is the love he commands us to show our neighbors.


[1] (Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p. 939)

[2] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.284

[3] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.84-85

[4] The Interlinear Bible, Green.

[5] Amplified Bible

[6] NRSV

[7] The Interlinear Bible, Green.

[8] NRSV

[9] Amplified Bible

[10] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.570

[11] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.551-552

Why you need to stop listening to yourself and what to do instead.

“You’ll never be able to do this.” “What were you thinking, you idiot?” “You will always get it wrong.”  Ever hear those words in your head? Sometimes that little voice in our head can be a real jerk. And if given free reign, it will keep on speaking lies and we’ll keep on listening to them. It’s time to tell that naysayer to zip it! But do you know how to silence the negative self-talk and get it to stay quiet, even when you come up against obstacles?

You’d probably never dream of speaking to someone else the way you spout off to yourself. And if you heard someone browbeating your friends or loved ones the way you regularly slice yourself up, you’d come unglued and rush to their defense, right?

So why don’t we silence the inner bully?

At some level, we do this because we don’t see ourselves as God does. We allow ourselves to believe what the world tells us.

We get our identity wrapped up in what we do, accomplish, look like, and so forth. We lose sight of the fact that in Christ, we are precious children of God.

How to Muffle the Meany

Remember Who You Are

If we are going to mute the muttering going on in our heads, we need to start by reminding ourselves of our true identity.

As believers, we are forgiven, redeemed, loved.

We are equipped, empowered, and enough because we stand in the the righteousness of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Identify Whose Voice We’re Hearing

When the voice in our head is belittling us we can know it is not the voice of the Holy Spirit.

In John 14:25-27, Jesus explained how they would guard themselves against the persecution they would face from without and the doubts they would experience within. Listen to what he says,

 All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Does that sound like the Holy Spirit is someone who would slam and scorn you? I don’t think so. He is our Advocate. He is for us, not against us.

While the Holy Spirit can speak truth into our hearts and minds that can be painful to hear, He speaks truth to build us up not tear us down. He reminds us of God’s teaching, character, and promises. He reminds us of who we truly are in Christ. If we follow His voice, the outcome will be peace.

All of that is so different from they way I tend to talk to myself. While the Holy Spirit teaches me, my negative self-talk rips me to shreds. The result is anything but peace.

Replace Your Words with God’s Words

In many ways, beating ourselves up or filling our mind with self-doubt is a bad habit.

We habitually default to the old messages that drew blood the first time we heard them. Maybe the words originated in the mouths of a parent, sibling, classmate, teacher, or some stranger. But now, they are self-inflicted.

I’ve discovered something important about eliminating a bad habit: It is so much easier and more effective to replace the bad with something good.

So, fill your mind with God’s Word. Spend time reading the Scriptures. Use an app on your phone to listen to the Bible while you exercise, clean, cook, or commute. Saturate your mind with Truth.

Instead of listening to yourself and those old scripts, listen to God. Let him write new scripts on your heart and mind.

Then, the next time you rev up the self-ridicule, silence it with some of God’s truth and grace.

Grab this Scripture Cheat Sheet

I’ve pulled together some of my favorite verses for various situations that tend to trigger my negative self-talk. I’d be happy to send you a copy via email. Just click the button or image below to request your copy and I’ll send it right away! Then you’ll be ready to silence your inner critic with some of God’s truth and grace.

Silence Negative Self Talk LM FI

Get your FREE Scripture cheat sheet!

Question: What situations trigger your inner critic? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Are you intentionally nurturing your most important relationship?

I have several ladies whose friendship means the world to me. We’ve been friends for nearly two decades (wow, I just felt old saying that). We’ve traversed the topics of conversations from potty training to preparing for college. We’ve weathered the loss of loved ones, career changes, marriage maelstroms, and tensions with our teenagers. While we used to see each other almost daily when our kids were in pre-school, these days face-to-face meetups are a rarity and require intentional planning. But the effort is so worth it! And the same holds true for our relationship with Christ.

No relationship is more important than the one we have with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. So it is imperative that we are intentional about nurturing our connection with Him.

When the girls and I get together, our fellowship really doesn’t center around the place, the length of time, or even the topic of conversation. While some thought goes into those details, what really matters is we are with each other. Spending time, listening, laughing, crying, or whatever. It is the being in each other’s presence that matters.



Same applies to my time with Jesus.

I need his presence. And it really is less about where we gather, what we talk about (or if we even talk at all), and how long I get to spend with Him in one particular encounter. The important thing is that I am intentional about communing with Him and soaking up His presence.

I’ve found some of the sweetest times occur when I am purposeful about inviting Jesus to accompany me in the everyday moments of my crazy life. Driving to pick up the kids, shopping for groceries, doing laundry. Mundane, day in day out moments strung together like the macaroni necklaces the boys used to make me when they were little—and just as precious.

Being purposeful is about making something a priority. It is about being a thermostat, not a thermometer, when it comes to living your life.

Thermostats determine the temperature, while thermometers merely react to their environment. One is proactive, the other reactive.

Be the thermostat! Set your expectations and act on life to make them a reality!

When it comes to our most important relationship, we must be deliberate. We don’t have to be formal, complicated, or perfectionistic about it, but we do need to be proactive.

I don’t know about you but if I’m not purposeful in deciding what to spend my time on in my “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” life, I will just bounce around willy-nilly. I’ll get stuff done, but at the end of the day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing and neglected the most essential elements of my life.

If I want to maintain the relationships that are most important to me, I need to put some thought into how I spend my time and with whom. And the One at the top of my list needs to be Jesus or everything else will start spiraling out of control.

Get the Free Guide to Simple Ways to Connect with Jesus

I’ve put together a few ideas for cultivating a closer walk with God. These are strategies and tips I’ve found helpful in my own busy life. If you’d like a copy, just click the image or button below and I’d be happy to email the ideas to you right away.


This two-page guide gives you some ideas for deepening your bond with the True Vine throughout your day. I hope you enjoy it!

Yes, send me the free guide!

I'd love to hear your ideas, too! Share in the comments something you have found helpful for nurturing your relationship with the Lord. Or, share some things that seem to get in the way of your time with Him. (No judgement! If anyone gets it, I do!) You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to avoid doing what I did Saturday night.

I was a time-bomb waiting to blow. So when the lady started bossing around me and everyone else in the concession stand, snipping at us over the most trivial little things…Kaboom! She snapped at me and I snapped back. I should have been able to have more patience. I know it would have been better to take her aside and talk calmly and with grace. Yet, my claws came out.

At that moment, I felt as Paul described in Romans 7:19:

I know better. I want to act better. So, why didn’t I.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5

And in his letter to the Galatians, Paul reminded believers to live by the Spirit so they wouldn’t gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16) He exhorted them to keep in step with the Spirit.

As the summer gave way to the new school year, I felt as if someone cranked up the treadmill to top speed.


Since my Bible study class ended and and football season began, I’ve haven’t been regularly studying the Scriptures and nurturing my relationship with Christ. With both of my boys playing ball at two different schools and Matt on the Board of the Booster Club, my mind has been on decidedly earthly matters.

I’ve gotten out of step with the Spirit.

It’s easy to do. It is the pattern of the world around us.

But I’m not to conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). And to avoid doing so I must renew my mind daily with God’s Word.

Scripture reveals to us God’s character and will. His will and mine are not naturally in sync.

So if I am to keep in step with the Spirit, I need to actively listen to Him and cooperate with Him.

There is a reason the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We can’t possibly fulfill the second, “Love your neighbor as yourself” unless we are are actively doing the first.

Actively listening and spending time with God doesn’t mean I need to sit down for hours and do an in-depth Bible study.

We can cultivate a deeper connection with Christ throughout our day using simple strategies.

I’ve made a checklist for you of five of my go-to methods (which I’ve reviewed and begun using again myself). Just click the button below to let me know you want it and I’ll email it to you instantly.

Yes! I want the checklist >>

Cultivate Connection Checklist Blog Image

How about you? How does being in or out of step with the Spirit impact your ability to love others as God loves you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How do we ALWAYS Love and Not End Up a Gullible, Complicit Doormat?

FREE "How to Love Like God" Cheat Sheet

I recently spoke at an event about how we can love God and one another at all times, even the hard times, if we love with God’s agape love. And that brought up the question: If love “always protects, always trusts, always, hopes, and always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7), then how can we love like that and not end up a doormat? That is a great question! So, let’s take a look at how we love like God and why his kind of love never fails! (1 Corinthians 1:13:8)

By the Power of His Spirit

Apart from God we can do nothing. In our humanness, we will never be able to love like him. It is only when the Holy Spirit lives within us and we cooperate with him that we can love the way the apostle Paul describes godly love in 1 Corinthians 13. So, if you want to love more like God, lean into him, worship him, be aware of your need for his Spirit to empower you to love others as he loves.

1 Corinthians 13_4-8NIV

In this post we will focus on the final two verses of that description. However, if you’d like to dig deeper into the other aspects, I’ve made you a Cheat Sheet that breaks down each element and prompts you with some questions to ask yourself when you are faced with loving difficult people or in challenging circumstances. Click the button below and I’ll email the Cheat Sheet to you instantly!

Yes! Send me that FREEBIE!

Keeping the context in mind, let’s look at that group of “always” characteristics of God’s love.

Always Protects

This phrase can be translated several different ways, each capturing a little of the original meaning.  Listen to some various translations and see what I mean:

“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes” —The Amplified Bible

“Love bears all things.”—NRSV and ESV

The literal translation is  “Love all things covers quietly ” (The Interlinear Bible).

Now at first glance that may sound like love covers up wrongdoing, but since Paul already clarified in the previous verse love “rejoices in the truth,” we know he isn’t saying love always covers up sin.  Rather, love protects the dignity of the wrongdoer while addressing the wrongs they have committed.

I heard a pastor tell of how a four-year old in his congregation described how you know someone loves you. He said, “Your name is safe in their mouth.” When you speak of someone who has wronged, disappointed, or irritated you, is their name safe in your mouth? If so, you are exercising agape love. If you catch yourself gossiping or sniping about them, stop! Confess to God your actions and your struggle to love them and pray for them. Ask God to help you love them as he loves them.

You can, and should, speak the truth in love to someone who is engaging in behavior that is self-destructive or harms others. To stay quiet or cover-up wrongdoing makes you complicit in the sin. Just be sure you allow the Holy Spirit to direct your words and actions so there is an appropriate balance of grace and truth and your motivation is really love for the person.

Always Trusts

Love always trusts, a word that can also be translated “has faith” or “believes.”  So you will see this phrase translated variously as:

“Love believes all things”—NRSV

“believes all things [looking for the best in each one]”—The Amplified Bible

never loses faith” —New Living Translation

Obviously Paul is not saying that agape believes anything or is gullible because we’ve already seen how important truth is in the exercise of agape.

I think it is more like, love believes that in God all things are possible.  There is no situation or person beyond the ability of God to bring about change, healing and wholeness.  We can trust in all situations that our sovereign God is able to accomplish His will and purposes.

When we’ve been harmed, God commands us to forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean we have to believe every promise made by an unreliable person. We, like God, can and should set appropriate limits as to what behavior we will accept and what we won’t. We need to have healthy boundaries that protect us from the choices and behavior of an unsafe person.

Forgiveness only requires our willingness to forgive the other person. Rebuilding trust in the relationship between us requires both parties to engage honestly and with love for each other. In other words, forgiveness takes one, restoration of a healthy relationship takes two!

When we speak of agape always trusting, we are saying we always trust in God’s ability  to work in the situation and people involved.

Always Hopes

In biblical language, hope is never about pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, it is a confident expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises and the truth of his Word.

So when we love like God loves, we live and relate with others expectantly. We anchor our hope, not in the circumstances, but in God’s ability to bring to pass that which is best for us and which accomplishes his purposes.

Always Perseveres

Are you noticing how interconnected these “always” characteristics are? Because love is anchored in who God is and a confidence in his Word, we are able to trust him to be at work in the people and circumstances that cause us such pain and frustration. We can keep on keeping on when human common sense tells us there is no point – just give up.

When our hope is in God’s ability, not human ability, we find strength and motivation to keep cooperating with him and letting his Holy Spirit direct us through the hard times.

Love Never Fails

So, beloved child of God, lean in to him and let him strengthen and equip you to persevere. Worship him, talk to him and listen when he speaks, study his Word, engage with other believers and let them encourage you and hold you accountable.

Loving as God loves is all about relationship, first and foremost with God, and from the overflow of that love we will be able to love others—even the most challenging and in the the most difficult circumstances.

Don’t forget your Cheat Sheet!

Learn more about this godly love. Grab the FREEBIE I made for you that covers all the characteristics of agape love discussed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Click that button below and let me know where you want me to email it to you. Then check your inbox for some tips and insights that will help you love the hard-to-love people and bear up under the challenging circumstances you face.

Love Like God

Yes! Send me that FREEBIE!

How about you? What do you find most challenging about loving like God loves? What helps you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Importance of Authentic Friendship & Highlights from Women of Faith

2015 Scripture Memory Team Verse 19

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a group of Making It Real Ministries subscribers at the Farewell Tour of Women of Faith in Dallas. The short little video below will show you some of the highlights of our experience. The importance of authentic friendships was evident in our interactions, the speakers’ talks, and the scenes all around us. And so I chose a verse related to this theme as my Scripture Memory Team Verse 19. If you’d like a set of Chalkboard Printables featuring the nineteen verses featured so far this year, just click here and I’ll email them to you.

1 John 4:11, NIV

In a culture in which the National Science Foundation’s General Social Survey revealed one in four people have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs, it was refreshing to see, hear, and experience the benefits of real relationships.

So many people today have “friended” and been “friended” by a multitude of people on Facebook and other social media sites but lack many, if any real friends with whom they can authentically share their real lives.

There is a big difference between being friended and being a friend. And while it can be scary to reveal our true selves to others, the rewards of the abundant life awaiting you on the other side of that risk are worth it!

Get Real with God First

It is much easier to get real with others once we have gotten real with God. When we get real with God, when we understand and truly believe God’s love for us through Christ, we become children of God. (See John 1:12)

Our relationship with God through Christ provides us with a security from which we can risk sharing our true selves with others. When we know we are accepted by God, we aren’t as desperate for the approval and acceptance of other people. This allows us to risk authenticity with others.

And the more authentic we are in our relationships with others, the more those relationships bless us and others. We enjoy the fruit of truly knowing our friends and being known by them. We are able to offer our lives and our stories back to God as living sacrifices through which we can comfort others with comfort we have received from God (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

I want to encourage you to bring your real self to God and find the acceptance and security you long for. And then take your accepted and loved self out into the world and love others with the same love with which Christ has loved you.

Highlights from Women of Faith in Dallas

Download Your Scripture Memory Cards

If you’d like to make your own copy of the 2015 Scripture Memory Team verses I’ve been working on memorizing, just click the picture or the button below and I’ll email you a PDF which features a 3 x 5 card for each of the 19 verses we’ve tackled so far.

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

How about you? Did you attend Women of Faith in Dallas and if so what were some of your favorite highlights? Or, what Scripture are you currently working on storing in your heart and mind? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Does Your Marriage Need a Makeover? Try this…

FREE Marriage Makeover Checklist

Last week Matt and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary. And as we reflected over our nearly three decades together, we recalled the ebbs and flows in our relationship. Every marriage goes through ups and downs. How you go through those is what makes the difference. So, if you’re currently in a rough patch, there is hope. In today’s post, I share the process that helped us get things back on track over the years.

And since theory and thinking only goes so far, I’ve made you a Marriage Makeover Checklist to help you put these steps into action in your own relationship. Click here to request your copy and I’ll email it to you instantly!

Recapturing Love and Intimacy

You can recapture the love and intimacy you used to have in your marriage. After all these years, we have a fantastic marriage and enjoy spending time with each other now just as much as when we were dating.

But we’ve had more than a few times during those twenty-five years when things looked bleak.

Great marriages and families don’t just happen. They require intentional planning and action. They also require constant monitoring and a willingness to course correct along the way before things reach a crisis.

That is what this process is going to help you do.

6-Step Makeover Process

These steps are not complicated and can be completed in a short period of time if you are both invested in making it happen. Print out your checklist, schedule time to work on this makeover, and then enjoy the results!

Continue Reading »

Why You Need To Break Up With Perfect

Amy Carroll 170 x 170This is a guest post by Amy Carroll. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the director of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy has been my mentor and coach and helped me answer God’s call to begin Making It Real Ministries. I adore her and think you will too! She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.

As I rummaged through the damaged store, I hurried toward a colorful decoration that caught my eye. A hurricane had ravaged the seaside store’s merchandise, but there were a few treasures left.

My prize that day was a papier-mâché figure of Santa Clause directing a band of animal musicians. Since my husband was a band director, seeing Jolly Old Saint Nick with his conductor’s baton poised made my heart sing even though it was a balmy North Carolina summer outside.

I carefully carried the figurines to the cash register and made them mine.

Nearly skipping with joy down the sidewalk, suddenly I tripped and dropped my fragile treasures. My face fell with dismay as I peeked inside the bag only to see pieces of Santa and his friends lying jagged and free-floating at the bottom.

When I got home, I gently removed the pieces and lay them out on a table. One by one, I drew a thin line of glue on the narrow edges and began to put them back together.

Click on the image above to read reviews, get more info, and get started breaking up with perfect today!

The results weren’t altogether terrible.

Santa’s pedestal is webbed with cracks and the beaver is missing a leg, but unless guests get too close, they’ll never know the trauma Kris Kringle endured. He’s broken but still beautiful, and a smile stretches across my face each Christmas as I unpack him from his protective box.

Why do I struggle to believe that others could see me the same way?

All of us have a level of brokenness from our own sin nature or from sin leveled against us. We all have cracks of insecurity, shards of sin, and flaws of failure, but for most of my life I’ve wanted to hide mine. I’ve wanted to glaze over my brokenness with a façade of perfection.

If I had found only a perfect Santa acceptable, I would have either tossed him after his fall, or I would have hidden him away in the box with the other outdated, worn-out ornaments.

That’s ok with an object, but we’d never do that to an imperfect person. We’re all in the same boat! So why are we afraid others will do it to us? That maybe God will too?

So we keep others at arm’s length, never allowing anyone to get too close, or we hide behind our walls of shame or false perfection. We try to earn acceptance and love with our just-right words and our thought-out actions, feeling more and more lonely all the time, when in truth…

Authenticity is the antidote for isolation.

Jesus doesn’t despise us in our brokenness, tossing us away or hiding the fact that He loves us. He gently takes our pieces and glues them back together with His grace, compassion, and forgiveness. If we’ll only lay down our masks of perfection and surrender to His perfecting work, Jesus lovingly sets us out for the world to see and claims us as His own.

I’ve been on a journey to break up with perfect, and I’m finding that my relationships with others are deeper than ever when I’m real about my flaws. In the process, I’m able to point to Jesus as the Perfect One, our ultimate hero, and I’m resting in the lavish love I’m finding in Him.

BreakingUpWithPerfectCoverAmy Carroll has written Breaking Up with Perfect for women who want to move past the pursuit of perfection into greater joy and deeper relationships. To get your copy, click here.

How about you? If you struggle with perfectionism, how does that impact your life and relationships? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Do You Know How to Disagree Without Discord?

Get the FREE Checklist of Paul's Advice from Ephesians 4:1-3

Recently, our family was watching a silly show called World’s Funniest Fails and saw an adorable video of three toddlers arguing over whether it is “sprinkling” or “raining.” Later that week, after hearing from a few friends and readers about disagreements taking place in several different congregations, I sadly wondered if most of our squabbles within the church look to God like the spat between those little tykes in the video. Probably. Only we are not as cute and the repercussions of our bickering are more far-reaching and serious. I think Paul’s words in Ephesians remind us what is at stake and how we can do better the next time we have a bone to pick with someone in our church family.

If you haven’t seen the viral video of the toddlers, take a couple minutes and watch it now. You’ll have a good laugh and the references I’ll make later in the post will make more sense to you.

Squabbles Versus a Stand

First, let me clarify that what I’m talking about in this post is not a situation involving such things as false teaching, abuse, corruption, or other profound matters. God calls us to stand strong against such things and his Word provides guidance on how to do so in a manner consistent with God’s character. (That’s a post for another day.)

In this post, I’m talking about squabbles over personal preferences and differing perspectives on non-essential matters. I venture to guess, if you’ve been a believer active in a local congregation for long at all, you’ve seen lines drawn and claws come out over the silliest of things. I’m not proud of it but I’ve been party to my fair share of these ridiculous run-ins in the past.

Think through the most recent knock down drag out you’ve witnessed or been a part of. Take a moment to step back and play it on the video screen of your mind. Try to see it from God’s perspective.

What is it that one side considers “sprinkling” while the other side swears it is “raining”?

It might sound like:

  • Sprinkling: “I think the carpet should be blue.” Raining: “No, I think the carpet should be brown.”
  • Sprinkling: “I think Sunday School should start at 10:00 am.” Raining: “You’re crazy, it should start at 9:30 am”
  • Sprinkling: “The budget for ______ Ministry should be more than that of the _______ Ministry” Raining: “No, I think _______ Ministry is more deserving of the extra money.”
  • Sprinkling: “I think Bob should chair the committee.” Raining: “No, Joe should be named chair.”

Sprinkling versus raining. It’s what happens when we humans lead with our pride and give reign to our self-centered nature rather than walk in humility and submission to the Holy Spirit.

What’s at Stake

As part of God’s ultimate plan “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:10), God intends for believers to come together in unity as the church and demonstrate the wisdom of God’s plan to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. (see Ephesians 3:10-11)

When we squabble and tear at the fabric of unity within the church we not only make a shambles of our witness to non-believers outside the church, but we compromise our calling to be a witness to those in the heavenly realms.

Disagreement is Inevitable, Discord is Not

We are not all going to agree on everything. We each have differing perspectives, life experiences, and such. So it is inescapable that opportunities for a face-off will occur. But how we handle these moments will determine if hearts are poked, friendships are ruined, and churches split or sputter.

Paul offers us wise counsel for how we are called to conduct ourselves.

Grab the free checklist I made for you. It will help put Paul’s advice into action the next time you find yourself in a scrap.

Click Here to Get Your FREE Checklist

Continue Reading »