Foolishness and Fear: Tolerant Inclusiveness

So, I’m going to let you in on my writing prep secrets ~

On my smartphone (shocker!), I utilize the “notes” app to keep track of blog ideas.  I read over them and pray during the week that God will let one theme/idea shine above the rest.  Then on Monday’s, I spend the day writing and following up with the necessary research….write it up and post!  Voila!!  I am very thankful that the Lord has given me the gift of writing and the ability to easily express my thoughts concisely and truthfully.  I get lost in the moment because I love to write so much ~ especially when I’m writing about God’s Word!  So much so, that I actually set an alarm on my phone to go off and the time I need to leave to pick up my daughter from school.

Today, however, I am admittedly having a much different experience.  I’ve been trying to write on topics that the Lord clearly wants me to use….for another time.  I want to write something fun and make you (and me!) feel good.  So after arguing with the Lord in Corner Bakery for about 2 hours, I’m submitting my will to His.

Let’s chat first about the title of today’s post, “Foolishness and Fear: Tolerant Inclusiveness,” which partially came from a radio teaching I recently listened to on KKLA – I’m sorry that I didn’t notate the pastors’ name.  However, the phrase that struck me the most from his sermon was this, “Fear and foolishness will take you far. Far, far away from God’s plan.”  Have you seen this play out in your own life?  I sure have and it’s no fun getting back on track, but oh boy is it always worth it!

The Bible addresses ‘fear’ over 340 times, and variations of ‘foolishness’, over 300 times (depending on the translation you are using).  But guess what ~ do you know how many times the Word mentions the word ‘tolerant’?  How about the word ‘inclusiveness’?  Well, I searched just six translations (HCSB, NLT, ESV, NIV, KJV, and NASB) and the only mention of tolerance that is printed in the Bible is in 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); and in the NLT version, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”  In other translations, they use words like: forbearance, long-suffering, restraint, and patience.

If you are new to my blog, you’ll come to know that I love word studies and definitions ~ so here’s a few for today:

  1. Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own.
  2. Tolerate: to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
  3. Inclusive: including or encompassing the stated limit or extremes in consideration or account.
  4. Include: to contain, as a whole does, parts or any part or element.

Alrighty ~ if you’re hanging in here with me and my little word study, here’s a blended sentence that defines the above words: “To show a permissive attitude toward the beliefs of others that differ from my own as a way of encompassing individuals and/or organizations with extreme consideration.” (R.A.B.)

Now here comes the part that was making me nervous to write today…because I don’t want to offend anyone, however, offending the Lord by not saying it would be worse.

The sentiment I shared above is…not…found…in…Scripture…anywhere.  It just isn’t.

God’s Word is very clear on what the Lord permits as healthy, biblical living and what is not.

Please hear me and know that I do not put myself in a place of any kind of superiority or high position of biblical knowledge.  All I know is what I’ve learned from my own studies of the Word and 20+ years of bible studies and classes.

God calls us to: *Keep His commandments  *Honor His Name  *Believe in the Trinity  *Accept the inerrant Word of God as the whole truth  *Believe that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected to be our Savior  *Seek forgiveness of our sin  *Find restoration through Him and only through Him.

We are not called to:  *Accept all life choices and decisions of everyone on the planet  *Make sure no one is uncomfortable with the truths of the Bible  *Make sure to be politically correct as to not offend anyone  *Be ‘tolerantly inclusive.’

My sisters in Christ (and brothers too if you’re reading this now) ~ we do not have the convenience of worrying if our belief in Jesus Christ offends someone.  What we do need to concern ourselves with is how we present our belief in God.  We are not to bash the proverbial “Good Book” over someone’s head to make them believe….that has never worked!  We already have the perfect example of how to witness to others in the words of Jesus Himself ~

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17);  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21); “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6); “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:9-15).

As followers of Christ, we do not have the right to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we like, what we agree with, or what gives us the warm fuzzies.  If you believe in the Word of God, the Holy Bible, then you believe ALL of it!

God is extremely clear on what is and isn’t tolerated: Deuteronomy chapter 13 was an admonition to the early Israelite’s to not allow any false prophets to come into their midst, or friends and family for that matter, who would tempt them away from following Yahweh (Father God) in order to worship other man-made gods.  Habakkuk 1 tells of the absolute unbelief of the Israelite’s as to all of the wickedness the Babylonians were causing them.  However, reading verses 2-5 in chapter 1, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.  “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”;  this could actually be penned by someone currently living in today’s world.

There are so many things happening in our world today that simply do not make any sense; things that are clearly sin in the eyes of the Lord.  Sin is not a popular subject, but it must be addressed.  The “easy ones” that most people can agree on are things like – lying, cheating, stealing, and killing.   But what about adultery, idolatry, witchcraft, living together before marriage, homosexuality, cursing, grumbling, gossip, greediness, the love of money, or sexual promiscuity?  These are just a few.  We are born into a sinful nature and this is why we need Jesus as our Savior.  Without Him, we are doomed to eternal separation.  What happens when we don’t have all the answers?  Or when we do have biblical answers that make people uncomfortable?  Fear can set in and foolishness will certainly follow.

As I sit in a local café working on this blog post, a young woman sits down next to me and proceeds to return all her personal calls on her lunch break (oh goody for me!)  I was preparing to move, but felt God tell me to stay put because I needed to hear something she was going to say.  Seriously?  So, I stayed.  Her very first call was to a friend that she was trying to convince to extend her upcoming business trip to Southern California by telling her about all the great places they could visit….Hollywood & Highland, Malibu, Santa Monica, hiking trails galore, and so many beaches to choose from…but this next statement actually brought tears to my eyes.  She summed up her plea by saying, “Oh, and then there’s Venice Beach boardwalk.  It’s got all kinds of drugs, homeless people, bars, half-naked roller skaters…it’s kind of a dirty place but that’s the charm of it all.”  The charm?  But this is the world one lives in who does not know the Lord; someone believing the lie of Satan that sin is charming and fun.

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (AMP). This is a portion of scripture where the apostle Paul was exhorting the new converts in Galatia to stand fast in their relationship and salvation through Jesus.  I will tell you also, that reading through the Scriptures of what Christ calls us to and what He warns us about, breaks my heart as so many in this world deny the salvation and restoration that Jesus has to offer us ~ and offer it freely and full of grace.  We cannot earn what He offers.  He has paid the ultimate price ~ we should not disregard this gift by “dumbing down” God’s truth.  We cannot serve Christ and our own interests at the same time either.

Being different isn’t easy ~ there is an exhaustive list of examples I could provide you with, but let’s stay on task about seeking our identity in Christ, while remaining consistent with the truth of God’s Word.  The news is daily filled with examples of greed, corruption, and sin ~ by people of all walks of life as well as some who have claimed to be Christians.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t mess up and sin at times.  Horrible atrocities have been committed in the name of a “Christian” and those actions have tarnished the worldly perspective of what it truly means to be a Christ-follower.  However, even as a follower of Christ, we are still people who suffer from being tempted to do or say things that are not a reflection on who Jesus really is.  We do not become perfect when we become Christian.  We are simply stating out loud to the world, that we need a Savior; Someone bigger than we are to save us from the sinful pit of this world.

If Jesus was a ‘politically correct, tolerantly inclusive’ person ~ why in the world would we need Him?  If at the mercy seat of Jesus, when we see Him face to face after our death, we simply gave Him a high five and a “Thanks man for the cool new digs.”, why follow Him here on earth?  Why go through each day of life as a Christian being on task to follow what God’s Word says on how to live?  Why would it matter what we did, said, how we acted, or how we treated others?  This kind of thinking is exactly where the father of all lies, Satan, wants us to stay.  Satan’s daily goal (yep – you bet he has them!) is to DELIBERATELY deceive people into believing that God’s best for them is a lie; that God’s truths are just basic guidelines; or that God is a mean vindictive deity who only wants to take away your fun.  Satan is a LIAR!!  Don’t trust him ~ Ever!

The word deceit literally means, “the act or practice of deceiving; concealment or distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating.  That is Satan’s purpose ~ to lead us away from the truths of God; to lead us into thinking that we can ‘tolerantly include’ everyone and everything simply because it’s the politically correct thing to do.  Stop falling for the lies!  Rest in the truth and promises of the Almighty God who created the Universe by simply speaking it into being. Stand firm in your salvation and in the truth that has truly set you free.  With a heart of love and kindness, we can still share our faith and communicate to those around us how very much God loves them.

So many promises from the Lord through His Word ~ read them and hide them in your heart.

John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 Peter 5:8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”

And finally one of my favorites that I want to close with ~ 2 Timothy 1:6-10 “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”

My prayer for you today is to walk boldly, in truth and in love, the path that God has for you!

Blessings,
René

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Freedom in Christ

What does “Set Free in Christ” really mean?

This phrase has slowly been creeping into the Christian arena with the sense that we have been set free for freedom’s sake.  Added to that are other variations I’ve heard: “free in Christ”; “freedom in Christ”; “I’m free”; “Set free to be me.” But what does all of this really mean?  Can I live how I want to and have my own agenda as to how my life proceeds because after all, I’m a Christian and I’ve been set free!?  Am I free to operate purely in a mode of my choosing filled with love, justice, creativity, and happiness?  Am I free to listen to the beat of my own drum and declare my individuality to the world because I’ve been set free?

Before we go any further, let’s start at the most important place to see where we need to be headed….God’s Word!

Romans 8:1-2(ESV) establishes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

A few chapters later we are reminded in Romans 6:23(ESV)For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t really have to go on here ~ God’s Word is very clear regarding what kind of “freedom” God is talking about.  The freedom that we live in as Christians is a free gift from the Lord who died on the cross to save us from certain eternal death due to our sin and bring us back to complete and whole restoration and relationship with Him!  We did nothing to earn or deserve this privilege.  We are given this gift simply because we are loved by the amazing Creator of the Universe, who desires to have us restored to Him.

Take a moment and let that truly sink in deep to your heart and your mind.

The salvation that comes when we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior does not, in any way, open the flood gates of individual personification of who we think we are and the ability or even the right, to do what we want to do.

I’ll admit, I’ve laughed at the old saying, “Sometimes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”, however, in light of my relationship with the Lord, it’s not that funny.  Too often, this is our mentality.  What this statement is communicating is how we still at times function with a selfish nature, from which we make our life decisions.  When we do not maintain an established connection with how Christ desires for us to live, the “I want what I want and I want it right now” attitude rears its ugly head.  That path, my friend, is a dangerous one ~ one that I’ve stumbled down on more than one occasion; one that you can come back from but with more wounds that need to healing.

To be free in Christ means ~ we are free from sin and death; and that we can be restored to relationship with God.

To be free in Christ does not mean ~ we can take Scripture out of context; we can act according to our personal will and convictions; we can interpret Scripture to our own sensibilities to justify our lifestyle/attitudes as acceptable behavior.

John 1:1(ESV) begins with one of the most profound truth statements of the New Testament, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

If we take scripture out of context to use for our own purposes, we are essentially taking Jesus out of context from who He is within the Trinity.  Jesus cannot be separated from God the Father or from the Holy Spirit.  They are inseparable!  Just as every verse recorded in the Word (the Holy Bible) cannot be extracted from the intent with which it was originally written.

I’ve recently been reading a fantastic book by Jen Wilkin1 called, “Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds.”  It’s been refreshing to remind myself that God’s Word is presented to us in its entirety ~ not in pieces.  One of my favorite teaching moments from this book is found at the bottom of p. 27, “Any study of the Bible that seeks to establish our identity without first proclaiming God’s identity will render partial and limited help.  We must turn around our habit of asking “Who am I?” We must first ask, “What does this passage teach me about God?” before we ask it to teach us anything about ourselves.  We must acknowledge that the Bible is a book about God.”

Such a great reminder of what our perspective must be when we read God’s Word.  For when we know WHO God is, and how we are to follow Him and become more like Him, that is when we genuinely discover WHO we were created to be.

2 Corinthians 4:2(ESV) admonishes us to remember this very thing, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”  Other translations use the phrasing, “nor handling the word of God deceitfully;” instead of the word ‘tamper.’ I hope that you are getting my heart here ~ we are to mindful of honoring the purity of the Scriptures.  They are not there for us to reinterpret or conform in order to make us comfortable in our life.

The finest examples of following God’s will (in my humble opinion) are found in John 5:30(ESV)  “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” ; and John 6:38(ESV), “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”  These are Jesus’ words to the crowds as He told them in no uncertain terms that He had authority as the Son of God because God the Father had given it to Him. Jesus was giving them a peek into the fact that He had come to earth to fulfill the prophecy’s of the Old Testament.  These two verses undoubtedly show how the foremost factor in all the decisions Jesus made was to be determined by the fact that He was firmly connected with His Father, confident that His Father’s will was accomplished.  Jesus’ primary motive was to follow God’s will, in that He should become the Savior and be able to offer us eternal life.  To gift us with true freedom.

Jesus is fully God and was fully man ~ yet He humbled Himself to give us the perfect portrait of what following God’s will must look like.

When King David (of the Old Testament) was in the deserts of Judah, he penned what we read in Psalm 63:1-5 (NIV) , You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”  If we are to engage in this manner of thinking, in this style of praise, we would not have room in our life to exalt our own selves or decide that we could be “free” to live how we pleased.

I Peter 2:16 (ESV) encourages us ~ Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”  These are incredibly powerful words written to embolden us to be subject to the authority of Jesus Christ in order to experience true freedom IN Christ.  Preceding this verse, the writer expresses the joy in the truth that “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (vs. 9)

There are many verses in God’s Word that speak to freedom, submission, honor, and delight in the salvation we have in Jesus ~ after all, the Bible is a book about God; who He is and why He sent His Son to rescue us from the depths of hell.  There are not, however, verses in God’s Word that convey any notion that we are (in today’s lingo) “free to be me.”

What a celebration of Freedom we can participate in with Christ!

~ we are set free from Satan’s rule and earthly dominion

~ we are set free from the laws of the Old Testament

~ we are set free from the wrath of God we were due because of our sin nature

~ we are set free from the terror of death and eternal separation from our Heavenly Father

~ we are set free to live within the boundaries of spiritual liberties gifted to us by Jesus

~ we are set free to live in holy communion with the Trinity

~ we are set free to live fully into the person we are created to be!

Thank you my friends for walking down this road with me.  My prayers are with you as you discover in a fresh new way (I hope!) what it truly means to have Freedom in Christ!

Blessings,

René

  1. Wilkin, Jen (2014). Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and our Minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

 

Operate out of Covenant, not Feelings

“I don’t want to!” ~ “I’ll do it myself!” ~ “That’s not fair!” ~ “How come?” ~ “Why?”

If you have ever dealt with a toddler, or a teenager, or had your very own little tantrum with the Lord, you’ve heard these phrases before.  These are all-too-common things we say when we are operating out of our feelings.  When we are honest with ourselves, if we only operate out of feelings, we wouldn’t get anything productive done.  Quite frankly, we would have lives full of mess after mess with no clean up on the horizon.

I don’t always feel like doing the family laundry – but I know we all enjoy wearing clean clothes.

I don’t always feel like going grocery shopping – but I know my family appreciates a home cooked meal instead of a bowl of cold cereal for dinner!

I don’t always feel like being kind to myself – but I know when I do, I am setting a better example to my daughters to treat themselves respectfully.

I don’t always feel like making the time to read my Bible and devotions, but I know that my day will be far better organized when I first set my mind on Him.

I’m sure you can fill in the blank here with many, many more examples.  When I operate out of a covenant of love towards my family, myself, and most importantly the Lord, I can set aside the stubborn “feelings” of apathy.

A covenant is “an agreement between two or more persons to do or not do something specified; a solemn agreement to act together in harmony; to pledge.” (www.dictionary.com)

Speaking of covenant and what it means on a personal note, my husband Tony and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this past July.

T.W.E.N.T.Y.F.I.V.E.  YEARS!

It is a magnificent accomplishment but not because of what we have done on our own, but what we promised to each other all those years ago, standing in front of family and friends ~ to keep Christ as the very center of our lives, our marriage, and our family.  In essence, we “made a solemn agreement to act together in harmony” ~ and when harmony has been out of tune, we always knew Who to go to in order to get back on track! To honor this celebration, we renewed our vows, our covenant to each other in a surprise ceremony in our backyard.  Those marriage vows mean so much more now that when we first said them.  We know from where we have come and we know that the future that is sprawling out ahead of us is certain to be a breathtaking ride of a Christ-centered life.

Psalm 105:8, 42-45 “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,”  – “For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.  He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for — that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the Lord.”

God…Keeps…His…Promises!

There are over 330 verses that speak to the concept of ‘covenant’ all throughout God’s Word.  God made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Moses, King David, King Solomon, with His Son….and with YOU!  That’s right!!  If they existed, and you could take a peek at the “Covenant Journals” of God, you would find your name included.  What we do have proof of, is that He has given us His Word as one big ‘journal’ of the covenant He has made with us!

In scripture, we see time and again how people didn’t believe or fully trust in God’s covenant with them, and we make the same mistake today.

Hebrews 9:15 declares, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Had Jesus acted from a place of ‘feelings’ and not from within an attitude of ‘covenant’, we would be a lost people forever.  The Lord is gracious to show us the beauty of dealing with difficult feelings yet outwardly moving in covenant. He was in partnership with the Father.

Luke 22:41-44 shows us this beautiful picture ~ “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Jesus had a choice!  Covenant or Feelings!

Don’t miss some very important clues in these verses above, as to HOW He accomplished this.  The only part that Jesus did on His own, was to kneel down and pray.  The strength He found was given to Him by a ministering angel and by trusting no matter what, His Father had the best in mind for Him.  We can learn so much here!  We need not wait until “all else has failed” to fall down on our knees in prayer.  Let’s START with that and watch the pieces fall into place down the path that the Lord has intended for us to take.

In this day and age, we are a society of people who don’t know how to stay in covenant with each other and many times take the easy path rather than staying in the course.  As Christians, we must choose between remaining in covenant relationship with the Lord, or stepping outside of His protection and going our own way.

We don’t feel like going to work, so we call in sick.

We don’t feel like we love our spouse, so we site “irreconcilable differences.” 

We don’t feel like being a ‘whistle-blower’, so we allow illegal work practices to happen in front of us.

We don’t feel like we are being “productive enough” as a stay-at-home mom, so we seek outside attention in various forms.

Before you log off and think I’ve lost my sanity and practicality (or my understanding) because of what you just read ~ please hang in there with me.

There are always two sides to the situation.  I have friends and family who have dealt with, and who are currently dealing with, serious emotional and mental health issues.  These are REAL FEELINGS due to some kind of severe trauma experienced at some point in their life. Anxiety.  Depression.  Bi-Polar Disorder. Schizophrenia.  These and other situations like this, are real and I do not discount any of the feelings that go along with it.

What I do know, is that these are not labels that have to define who you are.  The identity of who you are is in the fact that you are a child of God, created in His image.  **If you are in doubt of this, or don’t know what I’m really talking about, I would love to help you pray as you ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, to become your Savior and Lord of your life. Please feel free to message me.**

Remember in the passage in Luke 22, Jesus “sweated drops like blood” ~ I would venture to say, in my basic theological perspective, that He was under a tremendous amount of anxiety to have produced such an intense physical reaction.

If you are experiencing extreme emotions and don’t quite “feel like yourself,” please give yourself the gift of seeing a counselor, your Pastor at church, or your doctor.  God has blessed these professionals with the ability to give you the help you need.  I will be praying too that as you read these words you will allow yourself to be freed from the lie of the enemy that you are in this life alone ~ YOU ARE NOT!

As you name the Name of Jesus as the Lord of your life, you have been given so many gifts that can never be taken away…

  • You are a friend of God (James 2:23)
  • He calls you by name (Psalm 91:14 and Isaiah 43:7)
  • You are never alone (Psalm 71:12)
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in you (Acts 15:8)
  • You have the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23 and John 3:16-17)
  • We can call on Jesus name personally (Psalm 116:4)

Can I get an Amen!  Come on…say it…SHOUT it out loud ~ HALLELUJAH!!

Today, right now and every day, you can choose to live and operate out of covenant or out of feelings.  When living in the moment of feelings, ask yourself “How’s that working out for ya?” Take a breath, spend some time in prayer with your heavenly Father who loves you so very much, and start again.  There is a tremendous amount of LIFE that our Lord wants us to live ~ family to cherish, friends to support, and neighbors to encourage.  All of this can be done as we live an outward life of covenant with the Creator of the Universe.  What a blessings and a privilege to walk with the Alpha and Omega.  He knows my name ~ and He knows your name too!

Blessings,

Rene’

**Scripture references below**

  • James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.”
  • Psalm 91:14 “Because heloves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
  • Isaiah 43:7 “everyone who is called by my name, whom I createdfor my glory, whom I formed and made.”
  • Psalm 71:12 “Do not be farfrom me, my God; come quickly, God, to help ”
  • Acts 15:8God, who knows the heart,showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.”
  • Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death,but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • John 3:16-17 “For God so lovedthe world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
  • Psalm 116:4 “Then I called on the nameof the Lord: Lord, save me!”

 

Blessings,

Rene’

Watering in a Drought

Hello there ~ so this week, watering has been on my mind a lot lately.  Especially because I live in Southern California and we are in a serious drought!  We are truly becoming the “land of golden dreams” because our grassy lawns are now a variety of shades of gold…okay, they’re mostly brown, but I’m trying to be optimistic here! Parts of our front lawn are still green, but with only two days a week to water it, the nourishment is not there to keep up beautiful growth.  How like our spiritual lives are like that!

One of our pastors at church finished up a 3 week series on Parenting this past Sunday ~ and it was excellent by the way…thank you Pastor Bob!  Part of this last session was on the application of “watering” in terms of how we speak into the lives of our children.  Are we giving them the nourishment and encouragement that we need to with our words, actions, etc.  Let’s not go down the path of “Woe is me….I’m a horrible mom…” because that’s not what I want to focus on, so please don’t go there.  We can be a better parent, spouse, sibling, friend, etc., everyday God gives us breath but let’s focus on moving forward.  Allow me to share a beautiful visual that God gave me several years ago that has stuck with me every time I water my potted plants:

When things (or plants in this case) look as if they have lost their luster, lost their liveliness, lost their beauty, or lost their strength ~ adding in the water of God’s Word can bring back to life the most desperate of situations.

I admit, I do not have a green thumb…more like a light green thumb.  My cue to water my plants is usually when they are severely drooping over the sides of their containers.  Whoops!  Time to water! And my outdoor plants suffer a bit more because of the heat we have been having, so the drooping happens much faster.  Just this past week, I walked up the steps to our porch and I thought, “Oh great!  I’ve lost them all!”  But I decided to water them to see if I could coax them back to life with a bit of water.  A few hours later, I left the house to pick up my daughter from school and when we came home I was struck with the absolute beauty of these plants that had only a few hours before been limp and lifeless.  These spectacular plants were ALL standing tall and I think looked more vibrant too, as they soaked up the water I had given them.  I imagined the flowers that talk in “Alice in Wonderland” ~ these plants looked like they were saying “Thank you for giving me this gift!  I feel so much better!”  Okay, so it was a slow day in imagination-land for me, but the difference was truly striking as to what a bit of water and few hours had made.  I was reminded of that picture and realization God had given me all those years ago.

Trusting God to heal a relationship, a broken heart, a harsh word spoken to our children or husband, or a myriad of other aspects of our life, is a choice.  Only God is able to get into the deepest parts of those issues and heal them.  Most of the moments in my life that I have regret for (I’m a work in progress people!) are the times when I know I’ve done or said something to hurt one of my daughters. I hate that! And the enemy knows that this is huge weakness of mine, and I hate that too!  But every time I water one of my sad little plants and see the reaction a few hours later that my plants have returned to the glorious creations they were made to be I am reminded how God can do that for my sweet girls.  I am made beautifully aware by my amazing Savior, that even when I can’t, He can pour His Spirit into my girls wounded hearts and heal them in a way that I cannot even fathom.

However, when I come to them and apologize for my actions and words, which is a form of watering too, I am allowing God to use me to pour into their hearts with His love.  That is a physical way that I can nourish them and help heal our relationship.  And the older they get, the more they remind me that I need not apologize a million times for something I did when they were little.  It is extraordinary to me when my girls remind me that if we’ve apologized and forgiven each other, then BELIEVE IT ALREADY!  Out of the mouths of young adults!!

In the ESV (English Standard Version) of the Bible, the word ‘water’ is used 625 times ~ 48 of the 66 books!  The first mention of water is in Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  I hope it gives you chills to read this verse…if it didn’t the first time, please read it again OUT LOUD and let these words wash over you in a fresh new way.  This same Spirit of God that hovered over the first waters of the earth is the same Spirit that lives in you when you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Whoa!  Just as a plant is watered, let God’s Word pour over you and seep deep down into your soul to bring life and growth.

In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the story of the Samaritan woman.  In verses 13-15 it says, “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  The living water we can receive to cultivate our spiritual life, comes from the Lord and only Him.  We can look to our friends, family, or even to our work (inside or outside the home) to support us and reassure us that we are doing a great job.  But those are all temporary things.  We will not find suitable ways to foster growth if we do not first look to the Lord.

God so perfectly knows us; He can discern exactly what kind of ‘watering’ we need.  Sometimes it’s just a bit to perk us back up, other times it’ll be like sitting in the middle of the sprinklers on your front lawn for 15 minutes soaking it all in, and quite frankly, some situations it’ll be as if we are in the ocean, catching wave after wave of Him.  But it will never be too much; He will not let us drown!  Isaiah 43:2a promises us this, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;”   Thank you Jesus for that promise!

So whether you are feeling as if you are in a drought ~ browned, burnt and brittle from the unrelenting heat of life; or if you are in lush green pastures of peace and contentment, God is right there with you.  Set aside time with the Lord and allow His Spirit to wash over you and bring you back to life.  Every day is new and every day God wants to speak into YOUR life, to water your soul with His Words.  Whether those words are in the form of blessing or correction, they are always intended to produce spiritual growth and development.  The more in tune we are with the Lord and what He wants for our lives, the more of an impact we can have on the family and friends we share our lives with. Stay watered my friend!

Blessings,

Rene’