How to Live out God’s Character

Goals, pressure, perfection, progress—it’s easy to get sucked into believing we’re the cause of success and growth. But real change happens as God gives us grace to be like Christ according to our willingness to walk with a second place mentality. Transformation happens when we accept His will over self-will, and consider the needs of others above ours. Our culture has it backwards, truth is, Humility—not striving— is the root to bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”(1 Peter 5:5 ESV)

Living like Jesus isn’t impossible. We don’t have to struggle to be more like Jesus any more than a branch has to struggle to bear fruit. Instead, we focus on walking in humility, and the Spirit of God will automatically produce the fruit. Humility keeps us resting in God like a branch rests in the vine. We can learn to walk in this virtue in a practical manner daily; through every choice we surrender to God.

When I was a teenager and a new believer in Christ, the Lord led me to apply this in the most simplistic ways. Whenever my friends and I went out for a drive we’d fight to see who’d ride shotgun. To practice humility, I began to volunteer to sit in the backseat, which was considered the less prominent position within the pack. Through this practice I soon discovered that God’s favor to the humble protects them like a shield (Psalm 5:12).

On one occasion three of us were sitting in the back of the bed of my cousin’s truck. After making a stop, my friend jumped into the back of the truck where I had been sitting. My initial impulse was to insist that he move. But instead, I submitted to the Lord’s prompting to humble myself. A few minutes later a vehicle t-boned the exact spot where I was previously sitting. The friend who took my seat was injured in the accident. In fact, I was the only one who walked away without a scratch. Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but God taught me to trust His voice because He protects those who walk in humility.

So why don’t we choose humility over pride?

Perhaps because some equate it to weakness. On the contrary, we’ll have a strength we never before possessed to seek justice and to stand with the helpless when we follow God. He will help our thoughts shift to prioritize others, and will give us opportunities to practice putting the needs of others ahead of ours.

We’ll have a strength we never before possessed to seek justice and to stand with the helpless when we follow God.

Humbling ourselves is a good defense to combat the enemy of self-will. Pride in the heart hinders the grace of God like a dam backing the flow of water. The humble in heart have a constant source of living water providing growth in any conditions.

Our choice to be humble matters. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”

Sometimes the people we share life with and pray for are not thirsting to know God because we are not manifesting the life of Jesus in our lives. But the more we allow Christ to live through us and our actions, we’ll bear the fruit of His presence, and they will begin to sense and desire the peace, joy, and love He offers. They’ll ask questions about our faith which is a sign that God is drawing them to Himself.

Let’s ask God to make us wise soul-winners by bearing fruit that comes from walking humbly with Him. “Teach us O Lord, to walk in submission to Your Word and to clothe ourselves in the garment of a servant toward others.”      

What practical way can you walk in humility?

 

matt romano headshot - croppedMatthew J. Romano (today’s guest blogger) is an ordained deacon of Christ Church New Jersey. He has been walking with the Lord for over 25 years. His passion is sharing Christ with the lost and teaching believers to walk passionately with the Lord. He currently serves the body of Christ as a deacon, altar ministry to pray for the needs of God’s people, life group leader, guest teacher and speaker of the Word of God, and as a certified teacher in the School of Prayer. He is the author of “The Call: An Invitation to Revival and Transformation” and “The Call: A Study Guide to Revival and Transformation.” Connect with Matt more online. 

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Fearing Forward with Jesus

Heart pounding. Dry mouth. Hands shaking. Words fumbling. Anxiety at its finest. The first time I spoke in front of an audience about God was a total flop by earthly standards. I rushed  through as fast as possible so I didn’t have to stand up there alone for one more second. I had let fear take over and drive me into failure. Or so I thought.

I went home and cried.

Why did God call me to write, speak, and encourage others in His name if I couldn’t physically do it? Didn’t He know  I wasn’t capable of this? Didn’t He know I’m comfortable hiding right here in front of my computer?

He did know that, but He also knew I needed to learn an important lesson before moving forward. That none of this– the failures nor the wins– are about what I am capable of alone. It’s about Jesus working with me for my good and the good of others as we step forward in faith.   

It’s about Jesus working with me for my good and the good of others as we step forward in faith.   

After seeing their beloved Jesus die on a cross, I imagine His followers were confused and afraid. Maybe they even felt abandoned in the faith they were once so sure of. Jesus, knowing every one of their fears, showed Himself to His disciples to encourage their faith and to instruct them.

Some followers believed when they saw Jesus, others needed help believing.

“And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:17-20 esv).

When faced with fear, followers of Christ have a choice to make — will we doubt His presence? Or believe Jesus is truly with us in the struggle? What we choose determines if we can overcome our fears.

Many times I’ve doubted in my life. I’ve believed I was alone in parenting struggles, marriage lows, job crises, health scares — and most recently the first time I stood in front of an audience. Somehow I got the idea that God was here for the overall picture but not the day to day ugly. Wrong.

I poured over Matthew 28:17-20 thinking about how Jesus tells to go out boldly in his name. It struck me that before Jesus asks His disciples to go, He tells them all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. This is important, not just because it allows us to trust that we have a powerful God, but because of the words that follow.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” If Jesus is with us, that means His power is too.

If Jesus is with us, that means His power is too.

As a language teacher I know words cannot be translated perfectly. I wanted to know exactly what that meant that “I am” would be “with” us “always”. So I looked up the original Greek to better understand these important words of our Savior.

Here’s the gist….

The word here for “I am” is “ego eimi” which is the same name Jesus refers to himself when He says “I am the way” in John 14:6. Interestingly, the Greek word for “with” in this passage is an active with. It’s a “with” that means Jesus is working in us, not just standing by watching as we labor solo . Lastly, “always” means each and every part of the total. Each moment that makes up our entire lives. Not just the pretty ones.

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Putting this all together, Jesus promises to work with us every time He calls us to step out of our comfort zones.

Knowing this breaks down my fear when I step out in faith. Believing Jesus is working behind the scenes every time I put myself out there in obedience grows my confidence and propels me forward.  

We’re not alone, but when we feel as if we are, let’s remember Jesus’ promise. The great I am will be working with us in every moment, always.  

 

book-bindings-3176776_1920Let’s connect! How have you seen the great I AM at work in your everyday life? Comment below or on FaceBook and read more about overcoming fear with Jesus over at www.Whollyloved.com.

Or better yet, attend an upcoming Bold and Brave conference!

-Andrea

I love Jesus but…

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little. I just about died laughing when I read the sign my friend gave me for my writing desk. Then she told me why she bought it for me– because even if we love Jesus we have to remind ourselves daily of some important truths.

Like how Jesus never required perfection.

Most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect

In fact most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect, and less than glamorous. Instead of the righteous Pharisees, His friends started out as social outcasts, murderers, prostitutes, low class fisherman — anyone who wanted more out of life than striving for an invisible goal of perfection.

Because Jesus is our perfection. And we get to breath in a sigh of relief knowing our job is not to prove how good we are, but to live in the grace He won on the cross everyday.

I have been memorizing and resting in Ephesians 2:4-5 lately. Paul writes, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.

I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough of these truths. God is rich in mercy, not stingy. He has great love for you and me, not just enough to squeak by. And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.IMG_4918

So we live loved by Jesus and knowing that his grace covers the battles we lost. Claiming that He won’t give up on us, but will keep fighting alongside us until we are filled with his love and mercy. And that is what will make us new and whole.

I don’t know about you, but that is good news for me.

 

 

Fighting Fear

I’ve seen it a few times now. A huge ugly hawk floating through the air looking for something to eat. Then out of nowhere, a little bird climbs high. She gets above the menacing hawk, looks down, and dives straight into it– pecking at the hawk’s back. She does it again and again as many times as it takes to drive the predator away. She seems so fearless.

I stand there in the middle of the street looking up and silently rooting for the little bird– marveling at her courage to take on a beast five times her size. And I smile when the hawk gives up and flies away.IMG_3737

I want to be that little bird.

There have been times in my life that I was simply unprepared for scary events. I felt completely out of control and afraid. The threat was real. The fear was justified.

But that’s not how God wants us to live.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

As we face the unknown we have to face it knowing that we are not alone in it. We have His Spirit. You have the strength of GOD in you! And that means that we do not have to be afraid.

We may be small, but there is nothing that can scare our God. 

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power.

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power. Alone, we see the scary hawk and size it up. We know it’s bigger than us, so we assume it will overtake us. That it’s too big for us to conquer. But that is a lie.

As we climb higher and see the situation through God’s power we can see the truth. There is no health problem too big, no person too messed up, and no situation too far gone with the help of God. Our God is not afraid of the things we see as five times bigger than us. And so with His help, we climb high through prayer and attack fear.

With God we see the scary hawk’s weak spot. We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We pray. Telling God the truth that we are scared. We tell Him every fear, every what if, every possible troubling thought.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask Him to remind us of His truth. That He loves us and we are His. (Ephesians 1:4-5) That He is with us no matter the outcome. That we have His power and strength within us through His Spirit to conquer anything. Anything. Because nothing can undo the love of God. Nothing. (Romans 8:18-37)

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask for His wisdom and power and help and ask Him to be with us– no matter what. And we believe in the truth that God hears us when we ask big things. (1 John 5:13-14) And that He cares about the outcome. He is right there with us as we peck away at all our fears.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

And slowly as we keep pecking away at our fears with God’s truths written on our hearts through His word, we drive away our fear and replace it with His peace.

Most importantly, when we see the big hawk give up and fly away, we remember to praise God for His love and endurance through the battle and for answering our call for help. And we tell everyone we know about how God showed up for us so that more little birds can be strong.

So be strong, little bird.

Detoxing the Soul

In high school I ate chips, candy, and a pop for lunch and didn’t think twice. Now I eat my veggies and drink hot tea like it’s my job. Even though my taste buds have matured and my body has grown strong, I still felt the need to detox. So before my 34th birthday I chugged purple liquid filled with antioxidents in an effort to clear my body of hidden toxins. And I couldn’t help but think, I wish I could drink a magic potion to detox my soul, too.

The toxins

No matter how careful we are, our bodies take in toxins every day from our environment — the air, our food, impure water. Likewise, our souls absorb toxins everyday. Even though we war against them, they attack our soul in the form of bitterness, jealousy, comparison, unforgiveness, greed… sin.

I don’t know about you, but I have had 33 imperfect years to build up gunk. I’ve tried to clear it all out by myself, but that doesn’t work because sin can get deep in our hearts. We need something stronger than our striving to penetrate to the core.

The Antioxident

In order to detox the body, you have to stop eating harmful foods. During that time of rest, you fill your body with things like blueberries, rasperries, and purple carrot that have antioxidents. These powerhouse foods find hidden impurities and cleanse you from the inside out.

He helps us identify and deal with our life toxins not to look better on the outside, but so we truly are healed on the inside.

Our soul antioxident is the Holy Spirit. He helps us identify and deal with our life toxins not to look better on the outside, but so we truly are healed on the inside. But first we have to stop eating the junk. We turn away from our broken ways and rest in the grace of God. We invite his Spirit to search our hearts and minds for impurities and change us from the inside out. This takes some guts. It takes desire for something bigger than ourselves. But it’s worth it.

New Cravings

When you clear out toxins, you start to crave different things. As crazy as it sounds, instead of sugar you want an apple, instead of chips you want real potatos. You crave what you were made to crave — life giving food.

Same is true for our souls. When the Holy Spirit helps us clear out the soul toxins we start to crave more of His goodness. We want to see mercy and love instead of our agenda. We have tasted freedom and love and desire more of it.

When the Holy Spirit helps us clear out the soul toxins we start to crave more of His goodness.

1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV puts it this way, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Let the Holy Spirit it to do his work so our life taste buds change. It will require endurance and obedience, but the journey of detoxing the soul will change your life from the inside out.

 

Journal reflection…book-bindings-3176776_1920

What is God telling you to give up? What life junk needs to go to make room for God’s work in your life?

Spend time in prayer asking God to reveal and flush out the impurities in your heart and replace them with His goodness.

Radical Love or a Dozen Roses

Let’s play a Valentine’s game. Would you rather have pure radical love or a dozen red roses? A few years back a friend couldn’t believe that my husband didn’t send me roses for Valentine’s Day. She made such a big deal about it that I wondered if I should be upset, too. Then truth flooded back as I pondered. We had just built a house together. Would I rather have some roses? Or love that builds things that last?

Sometimes I have the same would you rather game going in my head when it comes to Jesus. Would I rather have a God like a genie who grants all my wishes and wants me to be happy all the time? Or do I want a God who loves me in an indescribable, fully accepting, never ceasing way? I want the house my God offers, not the withering roses of the world.

We can get so caught up wondering what we mean to PEOPLE on Valentine’s Day, let’s stop and see what we mean to our GOD.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” (1John 3:1 NIV).

Exclamation points. There are not many of those in the Bible, but when speaking about the Father’s radical love for his children, John gets fired up enough that two exclamation points are necessary. Meanwhile, our default can often leave us thinking God’s love for us is worthy of a question mark. I wonder how life would change if we started living in the exclamation mark of God’s love.

Here’s what John says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” (1John 3:1 NIV).

That’s what we are! God’s kids who He LOVES! Not a bunch of people He has to put up with. Not people He wishes He didn’t create because we are a hot mess. We are His sons and daughters INDEFINITELY. And that is cause for an exclamation mark!

God loves you 100 percent. No matter if we are married, single, or hoping to be engaged, God’s love is the only one complete enough to make us whole.

God’s love is the only one complete enough to make us whole.

John goes on to tell us about that radical love…

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1John 3:16-18 NIV).

The other day my son looked at my wedding ring and asked how much it cost. I told him the expense and his eyes got big. “Mom! You wasted that money! You could’ve used that to build a house for someone who is homeless!”

Now, I’m not saying that having nice things is a sin. And my ring could not build a house. But in that moment my heart smiled. I thought of the four years I waited for that ring and the years of ups and downs of marriage it represents. Still, it’s just a ring, and like the roses on Valentine’s Day it will one day decay.

But the love the Father has poured on us, his kids, will last forever. And the sacrificing love we extend to others — the houses we build in their hearts — will be our brick in the kingdom of God.

“The sacrificing love we extend to others — the houses we build in their hearts — will be our brick in the kingdom of God” – Andrea Chatelain

Mamaship: Surviving Motherhood

It’s 3 degrees out and my best friend’s car pulls up to my snowy sidewalk. There he waits for the bus everyday without freezing his face off. And I survive motherhood a little better because I don’t have to wake up my two slumbering littles. It may seem like a small insignificant act of kindness, but it’s one of my favorite acts of Mamaship.

We need to create a new word to reflect the friends we find during young motherhood. It’s not simply friendship. It goes deeper. It’s that friend who loves your kids like her own. It’s a friendship that helps you survive motherhood. It’s mamaship.

Mothering littles tested my sanity, my faith, and my ability to put one foot in front of the other.

Mamaship has been one of the biggest blessings in my life the last three years. During that time I went from having one toddler to having three. Mothering littles tested my sanity, my faith, and my ability to put one foot in front of the other. It sanctifies the heart in countless ways, but for me motherhood erased pride and showed me how to humbly accept help.

I didn’t always have mamaship. But we moved to this new neighborhood when I needed it most. I had quit my job, didn’t have work friends anymore, my family was all over the map, and my sportswriter husband worked all week and then covered games on the weekend. And I was a little afraid to let people into my chaos because I feared they would see I wasn’t a great mother or homemaker.

So my choice was to be alone in motherhood, or to let a few people in to see that I didn’t have it all together hoping they wouldn’t judge me. I decided to take a chance.

I would take walks around the neighborhood and talk to any mom outside on a sunny day. And slowly over cups of tea, afternoon snacks, halloween dinners, and morning winter playdates, God blessed me with more mamaship than I had ever thought possible.

God blessed me with more mamaship than I had ever thought possible.

Together we have shared in each other’s losses, been ears to motherhood insecurities, cheerleaders for new dreams, and second pairs of hands when life is crazy.

It reminds me of Pauls words to the Philippians. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Philippians 4:13-14 emphasis mine).

Young moms, the best thing you can do for yourself is find other moms in your season who can share in your troubles and share in your delights. It takes vulnerability and a sprinkle of divine help, but I pray that you find mamaship.

Motherhood is a team sport and we need others to love our kids when our tank is empty. And on cold winter days when influenza is getting the best of you… you will thank God for mamaship as your bestie picks up your kid and takes him to the bus stop.

**Who are your mamaship friends? You know, the ones who just make motherhood better? Share this with them today thanking them for the strength– and coffee — they have loaned you.

5 Books that will Inspire You in 2018

 

The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer

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For a long time I wondered about this study and was a little scared to crack it open. But Iam so glad I did. It focuses on the last chapter of the book of Ephesians and the strength and power God has given his children to face this world and the enemy. I recommend watching the videos with it if at all possible because Priscilla’s stories are very relatable and help us digest the scripture.

 

Audacious by Beth Moore

This book is a must read for anyone who needs to feel inspired and loved by God. It will make your heart quicken and your feet want to race. It’s not as intense scripturally as her traditional studies which makes it an easier read but is still impactful. It’s so good I already loaned out my copy so I can’t take a picture for you! Go get it. You will love it.

Mountain View by Kim Penny

IMG_4508This one is a diamond in the rough. It’s a testimony of a woman’s hope and faith in God through physical and emotional turmoil. After an accident snow-tubing in the mountains, Kim’s body is broken but her God is near. This true story is a light for other everyday believers that God sees his people, hears their prayers, and shows up in their need. Read and be encouraged by this up and coming author’s words. You can read more from her at kimpenny.com.

 

Beautiful Outlaw by John EldredgeIMG_4507-2

Anyone starting in faith who wants to know Jesus, and anyone who wants to be challenged in truth to see Jesus in the light of scripture should pick this one up. It challenges readers to know Jesus heart and motives, his love and mercy alongside his intensity for God’s will. This book will make a vivid picture of Jesus in your mind and leave you more in awe of your Savior.

 

Restless by Jennie Allen

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This one is for women who are trying to fit all their pieces together and make sense of their calling. It patches together our hurts and our strengths with scripture and stories to give God glory. It empowers readers to live boldly in faith with the one who created them. If you are wanting more out of life, this will start a fire in your heart.

 

 

**(Ok I know I said 5 books…but this one goes without saying. #6 is your BIBLE. The chapters that have grown my faith this past year in no particular order are Matthew, John, Phillipians, Colosians, Ephesians, Galatians, 1 Peter, and James, ….They all have taught me something new in a different time of need. My best advice is to pick a chapter, read it slowly, and pray to Jesus to help you understand and teach your heart. He is our savior but also the best teacher you will ever know.)

The Best place to hide your Resolution

Usually about halfway through January 1st I think long and hard about breaking my resolution. I’m still working on the whole perseverance thing. I tend to be more of a wherever the wind takes me kind of girl. Thank goodness our God is not.

It may be a new year for us, but every year is the same for the Triune God. He doesn’t have a list of things He needs to work on. Our God is already completely victorious over every evil and completely holy and good. There’s not a thing He needs to tweak or improve. He is everlastingly and unchangingly perfect.

There’s not a thing He needs to tweak or improve. He is everlastingly and unchangingly perfect.

This verse hit me when I was thinking about what we need to know to be successful in the New Year…

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created” (James 1:17-18 NIV)

Catch that? EVERY good and perfect gift is from our Heavenly Father. His goodness is unchanging through the years and millennia. Every good that will happen to you this year is a gift from the one who has planned that good for you from the beginning. And the greatest gift He has given us is a truly new start through Jesus Christ — His ultimate word of truth. 

He may not help our waist line, but accepting Christ and living through His Holy Spirit is the best plan for success we could ever dream of in 2018.

I have found that when we lay down our control and put all our faith in the faithful one big things can change.

I have found that when we lay down our control and put all our faith in the faithful one big things can change.  All His power, goodness, love and strength can be lived out through our words and actions as we yield to His instruction through scripture and prayer. He will never lead us into darkness. He will never choose wrong. He will guard our path and keep us safe. He will not disappoint or break a resolution.

So as you plan and strategize how to strive harder in 2018, I pray that your heart like mine is moved by the Father of Heavenly Lights to tuck your resolutions into the cloak of Jesus. To take a deep breath. Let down your goal of perfection. And be led into goodness by the only one who can lead a straight path.

Blessings and Peace to all my readers in 2018! I am so honored to be in faith with you.

Love,

Andrea Chatelain