Spiritual Amnesia ~ the struggle is real!

Do you remember cramming for those final exams?  Putting together material for a 10 page research paper?  Running bible verses with your little ones on the way to Awana so they get their patch? (Yes…I was “that” mom that would forget to help my girls with their Awana homework until about 2 hours before they needed to be at church.)  Let me ask you this….do you really and truly remember any of those things that you studied?  I think you can call that “Situational Amnesia.”

Or my personal favorite….after just a few weeks of driving 16 miles (which in SoCal speak = 35 minutes of drive time) on 3 freeways to get my girls to school (for seven years!), it didn’t take long for a certain type of “amnesia” to set in.  Fairly soon, I knew the rhythm of the morning and afternoon traffic, and my car seemed to “just know” how to get there and back.  It was actually a bit disturbing when on occasion, I would pull into the driveway back home and wonder, “How did I get here?”  EEK!

Have you or someone you know, ever experienced amnesia?  Or maybe just selective amnesia?  I think all young children fall into the latter category at some point in time.  A mom will ask, “Did you remember that I told you not to walk through the house with mud on your shoes?” And the child will answer, “No.”  Mom ~ “Well, I’ve told you everyday this month.  You don’t remember?” Child ~ “I don’t know.”  Good times!  Translate that to conversations we have with our Heavenly Father, “Do you remember that by grace you have been saved?” Our response, “No….I have to work hard to prove I’m worth it.”  ~ that my friends is Spiritual Amnesia!

Okay ~ we’ve read our bible during our morning quiet time; we’ve read over our scripture verse of the week to memorize; we have our time of prayer with the Lord.

Then….

…..we walk out the door to begin our day (and sometimes don’t even make it that far) when we are hit with a situation or person, which causes us to forget everything we just did!  WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN??? How can we so quickly forget the goodness and grace of God!?

I think partly this happens to me because I’m not really spending time in God’s Word, I’m speeding through it to check it off my “to do” list.  I’m being honest here.  I’m not proud of that and I don’t recommend it all.  Now, I don’t think there is anythign wrong with putting “Quiet Time” in your planner or on your iPhone calendar ~ but right now, please join me in choosing to enjoy this time spent with the Lord instead of as just something we have to get through to get on with our day.  That’s the attitude that causes spiritual amnesia.

Amnesia literally means: loss of a large block of interrelated memories;complete or partial loss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.

**In no way in this blog do I mean to diminish the reality of amnesia that some people may have to live with everyday.  It’s very serious, and I do not wish to make light of it.**

That said, what could be a “brain injury or shock” that we can encounter as a Christian that causes us to forget who God is and who He has created us to be?

*You prayed for a loved one to be healed and they died.

*You lost your job and it’s been months or  years since you had full time employment.

*Your child disobeyed you AGAIN for the same reason.

*Your marriage suddenly erupts with the uncovering of years of being lied to by your spouse.

*Your child tells you that they don’t want to see you anymore.

*People you thought were your friends have been gossiping about you behind your back.

And I’m sure you can add a few more to the list.

But guess what ~ as horrible as those things are, they don’t have to define you.  These are the moments in time when it is imperative to have been having true time with the Lord and allowing His living Word to saturate your soul with HIS TRUTHS!  So that when we come across those incredibly mind-bending experiences of pain, grief, aggravation, or fear ~ we can call out to the Lord and ask Him to remind us of who HE is and who we are in Him!  But we also have to be mindful of keeping scripture first and foremost in our mind.  The only we can do that is to be reading the Word everyday!  We may not always be able to think of the book a scripture is in, but when we need to reign in our negative thoughts, turning to God’s Living Word is the only way to redirect our thinking to that of what is positive and pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s just a few of those reminders to get you started:

Isaiah 55:8-9, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Right here ~ God is reminding us that what He thinks about is totally different than what we think about.  Meditating on His Words are the only way to make sure we are making at least an effort to think how the Lord thinks.

**Please know the context in which I’m using the word “meditate.”  If you have a picture of someone sitting cross-legged on the ground with their hands in a funky position, chanting….STOP!  That is NOT biblical meditation!  Eastern mysticism & meditation tell you to “empty your mind.”  That is the exact opposite of what God calls us to do when He tells us to meditate on His Word.  Biblical meditation calls us to FILL our mind with scripture and to think on how we can be obedient to the Lord by weaving those scriptures in and through our daily life, to live a life honoring to Him.  If you spend time emptying your mind, the enemy is waiting nearby to fill it with his version of the truth…and you will be led astray.**

I Corinthians 2:9-12,However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

Hebrews 4:11-13,Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

I hope these verses are encouraging to you ~ they are key verses in understanding how and why we need to keep our thoughts focused on the Lord and not on the circumstances or situations around us.  Not to go blindly walking around saying, “The Lord will figure it out.” (He will by the way…but He wants to work with us!) Our Heavenly Father wants to join with us, His children, because He loves us!

When you are tempted to give into fear, sadness, or anxiety ~ make a choice to run to God’s Word.  Speak out loud the truths of scripture.  Give the devil his notice that he cannot control you.  Praise the Lord that He is good and that He has called us to be His own!  We are create in HIS image and He was happy and satisfied in His creation! You are royalty ~ all the negative think and feelings of guilt and condemnation are not who you are…so toss that all in the garbage!  Rejoice that He calls you by name and He loves you so very much!!

Hebrews 4 verse 12

Blessings,

René

 

 

Have you forgotten your worth?

Have you forgotten your worth?

Today, before you start reading, I would like to ask you to quiet your heart and your mind. Ask the Lord to speak to you and show you all the ways the enemy has tried to steal your royal worth.  Then ask the Lord to begin to repair all those hurts, to fill the voids you’ve been struggling with, with His love, grace, and joy.

Take a deep breath….let’s get going!

Let’s first look at a beautiful passage in Psalms 139:13-18 ~

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

All you need to know about your worth is right here ~ How amazing are your thoughts concerning methat’s a literal translations from verse 17.  We are precious to the Lord and He is enthralled with us, His children!

He did not make any kind of mistakes when He created us.  He didn’t get confused, or distracted, or annoyed.  He kept His eye on us the whole time while we were formed in our mother’s womb ~ and He continues to watch over us.  We are created in God’s image…He is worthy…we are worthy because we find our worth IN HIM.

There is a tremendous amount of distraction in our world today ~ tv, magazines, the internet, social media, neighbors, and people….pretty much everything we are surrounded by on a daily basis.  When you start to believe that you are worthless….why is that? What is happening?  What lies are you believing? What happens to skew our thoughts about our worth?

I John 4:1-3 is a picture perfect warning from the Scriptures: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

I feel like I can trust you with my vulnerability here and share a few that I struggle with…

Not being good enough

Not being thin enough

Not having enough finances

Driving around in a scratched up, dented up car

Not being able to afford to pay for our kids college expenses

Not being able to afford to have my hair dyed professionally (the struggle is real my friend!)

Okay…that last one is a little silly, but in recent weeks, my hair was a catastrophically BAD color!  I dyed my hair VERY well…and it was VERY scary! In looking for sympathy, I turned to my youngest daughter.  In all seriousness, she looked at me and said, “It’s not like someone was standing next to you at the store telling you NOT to get that color Mom.”  Well….yeah…but come one!  Feel sorry for me!  My hair is burgundy and that is NOT a good look!! (btw…my husband drove me to the store at 10:30pm to get a box of dark brown to cover up the mess I’d made…we both knew I was in no condition to drive myself!)

In that moment of looking at my horrifying hair color (can you tell I’m still a bit traumatized here!), I felt worthless.  If this hair color deal couldn’t be fixed I was contemplating not going on a weekend trip with my husband that next day.  We had been planning this for months.  But I felt that I would be an embarrassment to him (and personally, utterly mortified at the thought of being in public!) ~ of which he wisely denied that would be the case. So not only did he drive me to the store, he stayed up with me until midnight when complete disaster was averted. He didn’t laugh at me.  He didn’t scold me.  He just love me and supported me through my crazy!  I love my man!!

How like the Lord is that?  When I have made a decision, all the while ignoring the still small voice of the Holy Spirit warning against poor choices, then realize the consequences I’ve created….ugh!  My sweet Heavenly Father doesn’t chastise me; He doesn’t mock me; He doesn’t make me feel guilty.  He stands beside me waiting for me to get off the bus to crazytown (a place of my own creation…you might know what I mean!), then gently guides me back onto the path He has for me.

Satan is the one who plies our mind with those distracting, and sometimes devastating, tactics to make us think we have lost our worth. God’s grace is sufficient to rescue me when I seek His face and ask forgiveness for those moments of weakness.

Matthew 10:30-32 is a great encouragement ~ And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

Do you realize that every negative thought that slithers in off the enemy’s twisted tongue has to be said IN the very PRESENCE of God.

There is nothing that the devil lies to us about that God doesn’t know.  In our humanness, we need to call on God’s strength in that moment to combat the lies.  Rest securely in the knowledge that we don’t have to muster up the strength or courage to beat down the devil on our own.  We only have to call on Him to help us!

Read this promise here in 2 Samuel 22:2-4 ~ He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.”

Oh those words from scripture are like floating along a delightfully cool river, feeling the soul quenching power of Living Water!  As a daughter of the King, I have the right and accessibility to call upon the name of the Lord and He promises to save me from my enemies…especially when that enemy is myself!

You are WORTHY my friend!

You have been set apart by a loving God who has an amazing journey for you!  You have the ability to make a difference, one person at a time, in HIS timing!  You are created to be a guiding light of God’s love and mercy to a world that is desperately lost!  You are beautiful! You are special!  You are loved and cherished!

Blessings,

René

I John 4 verse 1

{this photo was taken on that weekend away with my husband}

** For further study, check out these verses about how worthy our Lord is to be praised! **

~ I Chronicles 16:24-26

~ Psalm 96:3-5

~ Psalm 48:1

~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11

~ Revelation 4:11

 

In the Shadows

On a recent trip out of town with my husband, we took a bunch of photos…and of course posted them on social media!  In many of them, I was in the shadow of my tall husband because the sun was so bright.  I couldn’t open my eyes in the photos, and I don’t like taking photos with my sunglasses on.  I know, I know…big problems of life here!  One of my darling witty daughters commented on one photo saying, “So sad that you’ll always be in dad’s shadow.”  It actually made me laugh since I had CHOSEN to be in his shadow so I didn’t have to squint into the sunlight or leave my sunglasses on.  I wrote a reply saying, “I like to think of it as shelter from the heat!” And the next moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “In MY Shadow is exactly where you are supposed to be.”  Whoa!  I love it how God can even speak to my heart through social media!  LOL!!

I’ve been mulling over this whole idea between “in the shadows” and “in shelter of” for the past two days now.  And here I sit now chatting with you!

Shadow ~ “a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light; shade or comparative darkness; darkness especially that of coming after sunset; shelter; protection.”

Shelter ~ “something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal, or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc.; refuge; protection from blame or incrimination; a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements; to be a shelter for; to place under cover; to protect; take under one’s protection; find a shelter.”

Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isn’t that beautiful!  This verse in Psalms completely captures the unique quality of the beauty that combines being in the shadow AND being sheltered by the Lord ~ at the same time!

Take a quick look back at the dictionary definition of the word shelter.  Now think of this meaning in spiritual terms.  When we are sheltered beneath the wings of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 36:7*), we are able to sing with confidence!  He is able to protect us from the storms of life, from the missiles of discontent blasted off from the enemy, and from conditions in our life that are meant to distract or make us dissatisfied with the Lord.  When we make our home with the Lord, we can take refuge from the arrows of the enemy and trust that He will extinguish the deadly fires of dissatisfaction.

Notice as well what I’m pointing out here….the attacks from the enemy WILL COME!  They are inevitable simply because we are children of the Most High God.  We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  And how do we maintain a sober and alert mind?  As we read scripture, we are sheltered by the Word of the Lord and all that comes into our mind from Him enables us to wage a victorious battle against the lies of Satan.  This verse maintains that the enemy is “like a roaring lion” ~ it doesn’t say that the enemy IS one…big difference there!  It also doesn’t say that we as Christians are like sitting ducks waiting to be picked off ~ we are moving targets that the enemy tries to pin down, but we are NOT to be passive!  NO my friend ~ we are to be ever-moving about our life, navigating the path that God has set us on, and be ready to press into the Lord when the battle wages.  And the battle will be tougher on some days than others.  There will be seasons of hand-to-hand combat, and seasons of less contention ~ but every day we should be ready for whatever comes our way.

Another reason to remember to put on the proper battle gear ~ the Armor of God!! (Ephesians 6). Oh, and here’s one of the most comforting pictures in scripture to me ~ I don’t have to worry about constantly looking behind me to see what’s coming.  I can use all my energy (mental, physical, and spiritual) to move forward knowing that I’m protected because God has my back!  Isaiah 52:12 says, “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  YES!!!  My God and His angel armies are sheltering my life from all that I cannot see as I move in concert with what I can see and follow God’s leading in how to combat the enemy as he tries to throw me off course! I don’t know about you, but I gave myself chills here!

We have an endless supply of reminders in God’s Word of how the Lord protects, shelters, and shadows us.  But we have to be IN and involved in spending time in the scriptures to know this.

When the heat of battle is beating down on your head ~ hide in the cool shadow of the everlasting God.

Blessings,

René

Psalm 91 verse 1

{ photo taken on our trip as we drove through the Presidio in San Francisco }

 

All Bible verses found on http://www.biblegateway.com, NIV version
 * Further reference: Psalm 36:7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

 

 

Seeing the Delight in being Set Apart

Does this title seem like an oxymoron to you?  It does to me ~ and I’m truly beginning to love how God has been working in my heart in the past few years.  Showing me delight in things I previously found absolutely frightening.  He is so good and so patient as I learn these truths.

What does it mean to be set-apart?  As I searched these words in scripture, there are about 60 verses that touch on the subject.  Some of them deal with animals, unclean things, or cities.  However, most of these verses deal with people and how the Lord has set us apart.  Being “set apart” is not for only certain people.  It is not for those who’ve gone through seminary or special theology classes…it is for all who call on the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  Let me share a few with you here ~

Leviticus 20:26, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.”

Psalm 4:3, “Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.”

Jeremiah 1:5, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Galatians 1:15, “But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased”

I Peter 1:2-3, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

I think the verse in Leviticus gives us a beautiful picture of who we are to the Lord.  The phrasing is very clear, that we have done nothing on our own to receive the bounty of God’s love.  Simply because HE is Holy, we are called holy and called to be set apart.  We are separate from those who do not have a relationship with the Lord.  This does not mean we are better than others.  But it does give us an amazing privilege ~ to call the Almighty Creator of the Universe, our Father.  We can call Him our friend, our confidante, our protector, our healer, our Savior.

God is PLEASED to call us His own ~ He yearns to reconcile us back to Him.

I know I wrote a bit about being “set apart” in my last blog, but felt like there was more to say.  It can be our delight to be set apart.  When we allow God to lead us into the calling He personally and specifically places on our life, being set apart doesn’t look lonely ~ it looks whole and full!  This is not the game of kickball in 2nd grade where you got picked last…or not at all.  God chose YOU to be right where you are at this very moment in time because YOU are the one He wants to be a light to the neighbors, family, or co-workers that surround you.  You have a unique job that no one else can quite fill the way you do.  Dive in and see what He has planned for you!

Sometimes, being set apart can feel like you are alone in the quest that God has given you.  Especially if you are the only Christian in your home, work place, dorm room, or in your family. But you are not by yourself ~ the Lord is with you and because He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you or forget about you.

So take a moment today and ask God what it is that He has set you apart for.  What is it that He has been whispering to your heart to do?  Take time in your prayers to seek Him and not say a word ~ yep…just quietly listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and not give a list of wants and needs.  God is faithful to answer you when you call.

It is always safe to go where God is.

Psalm 4 verse 3

Blessings,

René