Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is a daily devotional referencing multiple verses to encourage you when suffering , or simply in day to day living.
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JESUS CALLING BY SARAH YOUNG
A few years ago, a man at our church with Parkinson’s mentioned how he was struggling with daily discouragement. He confessed there were days he couldn’t see how God could use this time in his life for good. It came at a moment during my own personal battle with Lyme disease and I was feeling helpless as well.
He referred to a book that helped him immensely when he was feeling lost called Jesus Calling, which basically is a daily devotional where the author takes a few verses in the Bible and turns them into a love letter from Jesus to you. While you have to understand the text isn’t straight from the Bible, it is using the Bible to create the context for the conversational paragraphs.
I’ve spent most of my life writing in a journal. One day I started addressing it informally to Jesus and ending in “Love, Amy” like my own conversational love letter. So when I discovered this devotional, it felt like it was a part of the conversations I was already having with Jesus.
When I began to look for other books by Sarah Young, I found out that she also struggled with Lyme Disease and wrote a follow up book called Jesus Today in response to the pain she went through! Isn’t it amazing how these things happen to us at the exact moments we need them?
JESUS CALLING FOR ALL AGES
I’m so thankful I ordered that book that day. I read through the entire thing that year and the next, making notes on what was going on in my life and revisiting them later praising God for all he had done.
I love buying this book for people going through something hard because it makes you feel like you are completely seen and heard by the God who loves you.
If you’re struggling, consider this my recommendation.
For my daughter, it was a sweet way for me to share words of blessings over her using verses from the Bible. For my son, it was a great way to practice the habit of daily Bible study in a simple way that he could relate to the struggles in his own life. We have finished our Jesus Calling devotionals, but now it’s the perfect segway into our next studies!
I hope you and your family are encouraged by these daily devotionals!
The book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality reflects so much of what I believe about the correlation between our mental and spiritual health.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclaimer for details.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL MATURITY?
We’ ve all found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation at one time or another where we realize we are playing a part.
Author and pastor, Peter Scazzero found himself in this same predicament, preaching at church about living as a Christian, while his marriage and temper where falling apart. When he began to recognize his need for emotional maturity, he was able to address it and pursue deeper spiritual growth.
Scazzero outlines 10 areas where we as Christians can be lacking in emotional maturity which in turns affect our spiritual maturity. I found myself relating to more than I was comfortable with, but it challenged me to set some spiritual goals for myself. This book was also my motivation to get counseling to allow for accountability in my spiritual growth.
10 SYMPTOMS OF EMOTIONALLY UNHEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
I felt that the message of his ministry is so in line with mine here at Intentional Living, where I focus on the importance of setting the ground work of spiritual growth through addressing all the other areas of your life:
Taking care of yourself so that you can grow in awareness of what you need to move forward (Self Care)
Discovering your gifts and God-given talents so that you can find meaning in your day to day (Goal Setting)
To better understand where it is we need to grow, here are 10 areas he gave to explain what it means to be emotionally unhealthy in our spirituality. How many of these can you relate to?
1. Using God to run from God
Here are Scazzero’s examples on what this means:
Do God’s work to satisfy me, not him
Do things in God’s name he never asked me to do
Pray about God doing my will, not about me surrendering to his will
Demonstrate “Christian behaviors” so significant people think well of me
Focus on certain theological points out of concern for my fears and unresolved emotional issues rather than out of out concern for God’s truth
Use biblical truth to judge and devalue others
Exaggerate my accomplishments for God to subtly compete with others
Make pronouncements like, “The Lord told me I should do this,” when the truth is, “I think the Lord told me to do this”
Use Scripture to justify the sinful parts of my family relationships, cultural values, and national policies, instead of evaluating them under God’s lordship
Hide behind God talk, deflecting the spotlight from my inner cracks, and become defensive about my failures
Apply biblical truths selectively to avoid anything that would require making significant life changes
2. Ignoring anger, sadness and fear
Many Christians don’t believe they have permission to admit or express their feelings, especially when it comes to fear, sadness, shame, anger, hurt and pain. But how can we listen to what God is saying when we cut ourselves off from our own emotions?
3. Dying to the wrong things
While we are called to die to our sinful nature (arrogance, hypocrisy, judging others), we aren’t called to die to the healthy desires and pleasures of life (friendships, joy, art, music, beauty, recreation, laughter, nature). Our lives as Christians shouldn’t look miserable, we have been given gifts and creativity and joy from our creator!
4. Denying the impact of the past on the present
Our views on almost everything have been shaped by our upbringing and past experiences. We need to look at the ways we relate to one another and evaluate whether they reflect our family’s morals or God’s.
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
This is the struggle many Christian have, where you act one way at church and another the rest of the week. We are called to look different from the rest of the world, not be indistinguishable from one another.
Statistics show that Christians marriage end in divorce as much as non-Christian marriages. This also flows over into other areas like domestic violence, materialism and racism.
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
Here are a few false beliefs Christians struggle with:
Doing lots of work for God is a sure sign of a growing spirituality.
It is all up to you. And you’ll never finish while you’re alive on earth.
God can’t move unless you pray.
You are responsible to share Christ around you at all times or people will go to hell.
Things will fall apart if you don’t persevere and hold things together.
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
Jesus’ life was filled with conflict! He showed us that healthy Christians don’t need to avoid it. However, few people were raised in families where conflicts were resolved in a mature, healthy way. Here are a few of Scazzero’s examples of unhealthy ways to deal with conflict:
Say one thing to people’s faces and then another behind their backs
Make promises we have no intention of keeping
Give people the silent treatment
Give in because we are afraid of not being liked
“Leak” our anger by sending an email containing a not-so-subtle criticism
Tell only half the truth because we can’t bear to hurt a friend’s feelings
Say yes when we mean no
Avoid and withdraw and cut off
Find an outside person with whom we can share in order to ease our anxiety
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
No one is perfect—even those who seem to have it all together! The Bible is filled with examples of people trusting and following the Lord that were also broken, deeply flawed people. Everyone, regardless of their gifts, is weak, vulnerable and dependent on God.
9. Living without limits
A lot of Christians carry guilt for not doing enough, which leads to discouragement. Unfortunately, many times this results in disengagement and isolation from “needy people” because they don’t know what to do.
Even Jesus didn’t heal every single person in Palestine, yet we feel like we’re failing if we don’t “do it all”. This also spills over into our need for self care.
Do you feel that taking care of yourself equals not caring about others? Of course not! What good are we to others if we can’t even take care of ourselves?
10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey
When we are so caught up with pointing out other people’s faults, we have no time to notice our own. This is the basis for the “us vs them” mentality and what divides so many of us. Jesus tells us to first take the plank out of our own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s.
SO NOW WHAT?
Ok so if you’re like me, you’ve recognized yourself all over those 10 unhealthy habits. So how do we grow and correct these behaviors?
Scazzero outlines six stages of faith that we go through, and points out that if we find we haven’t grown much since becoming an adult after growing up in the church our whole lives, we may still be in the infant stages!
The first step he did to improve was to put time for quiet and solitude in his schedule.
“We need to be alone so that we can listen. My journey into emotionally healthy spirituality began very simply. Each day, as part of my devotions with God, I would allow myself to feel emotion before God. Then I would journal. Over time I began to discern patterns and God’s movements in a new way in my life.”
The second thing he did was to slow down the pace of his life.
He went from a 6 day, 70 hour work-week to a 5 day, 45 hour schedule. While this may seem impossible to you, make it a priority to look over what you have on your schedule and see where you can slow down.
“Silence and solitude are so foundational to emotionally healthy spirituality that they are a repeated theme throughout this book. We observe this from Moses to David to Jesus to all the great men and women of faith who have gone before us.”
He also sought out trusted advisors—counselors, mentors, spiritual directors, mature friends.
You may feel like you have no one in your life you could go to for advice. Counselors are a great way to do this, or seeking out leaders in your church for mentoring. Make a list of people you admire and reach out to them for coffee or something this week. Pray for guidance from God in this area as well.
ORDER YOUR COPY OF EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
There’s so much in this book that I haven’t included, such as:
Six Stages of Faith and Assessing Where You Are
Four Areas to Help You Grow and How to Monitor Growth
Healthy Ways to Cope with Pain
Creating a Daily Rhythm and Observing the Sabbath
Recognizing the Impact of Your Upbringing on Your Views
I know you will be blessed to learn more about yourself and how to become healthier emotionally and spiritually when you read this bestselling book. Order your copy here.
The Bible says that we are all gifted. We each have unique spiritual gifts to be used in personalized ways. Figure out yours today!
KNOWLEDGE VS WISDOM
I love to circle, highlight, tab and post-it note everything I come across. Maybe you’re a life long learner like myself. You love knowledge and you can’t get enough of it. You want to learn how to do new skills and figure things out on your own, while you peruse the DIY and self-help sections of your local bookstore.
In retaining new information, I’ve gotten really good at organization. If I want my kids to learn how to clean their rooms, I label bins, draw out diagrams and give rewards. My kids think everyone else is working on their behavior and learning new skills at home using charts, printables and checklists.
I have to shake my head at myself when my son has friends over and thinks we need to set up different stations around the house for activities. In training him to be excited about learning new skills, I may have gone a little overboard and have to remind my kids that it’s also fun to be spontaneous!
I like to think I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to others because of all the research I am constantly doing. I love to read, write, watch movies, create, explore–I love to learn. I’ve acquired a whole lot of knowledge, but what’s much harder to acquire is wisdom.
Knowledge is attained by studying, asking questions and searching for answers. Wisdom is from experience: using (or not using) advice you’ve been given, overcoming difficult circumstances, or putting your knowledge into practice.
Throughout the New Testament, writers mention the concept of Spiritual Gifts. The Bible says that we are all gifted. We each have unique spiritual gifts to be used in unique, personalized ways.
“Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7
We live in such a celebrity-run society that many of us think all the talents lie within other people, but not ourselves. Or perhaps you know what your talent is, you just don’t know how to use it. In either case, I encourage you to take a Free Spiritual Gifts Test because it can tell you what your gifts are and how to use to them.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit…different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
WHAT QUALIFIES AS A SPIRITUAL GIFT?
Spiritual Gifts are based off the following verses:
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve…teaching, let him teach…encouraging, let him encourage…contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously…leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
1 CORINTHIANS 12: 8-10
“To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
Distinguishing between spirits
Speaking in different kinds of tongues
Interpretation of tongues
1 CORINTHIANS 12:28
“And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
Workers of miracles
Speaking in different kinds of tongues
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.”
WHY WILL MY GIFT MATTER?
Your life is with purpose, and as a result, God wants you to enjoy what you do, not be burdened by it. He gives you these gifts so that you can seize the opportunities in front of you to make a difference in the lives of others. You don’t have to be a teacher or a public speaker to help others.
During the time I was bedridden, so many people helped and encouraged me. People all over the country prayed for me, brought us meals, text me daily encouragement, sent cards, donated money to help us pay our medical bills, recommended books to read and sent uplifting music to listen to.
As a result, each one of these people made a difference in my life and my family’s. Many of them didn’t even know me that well, however, they blessed me with their unique spiritual gift.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35-36
HOW CAN I USE MY GIFTS?
Hospitality, giving, teaching, encouraging, leading, organizing, praying, serving, helping others, showing mercy and compassion, having a strong faith, discernment—these are gifts! How can you help serve others using your talents? For example:
Donate money to charity
Pray for sick and suffering
Babysit for friend or neighbor
Encourage someone going through a hard time
Help clean for someone who is sick or elderly
Bring someone a meal
Host a get together to meet your neighbors
“Each one of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10
Not sure you have gifts? You do! Remember who made you! Grab this FREE printable on your identity in Christ when you subscribe to my newsletter and get access to my ENTIRE printable library here:
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