Abundant Heaps…

When you read that title, what are the images that come to your mind?  Something that  you collect?  Something that has been given to you?

Is it the ominous laundry room with the floor scattered with heaps of clothes and towels and everything that came out of your child’s closet…that is really clean but they didn’t end up wearing it but didn’t feel like hanging it back up again? Do you see the pile of bills on your counter that need to be gone through to figure out which one needs to be paid first…Or which one you can pay at all? Is it the stack of stuff that ends up piling up around the house with things that you haven’t had time to take care of yet… The magazine stack, that project you’re working on, the Bible study book that you been looking for and it’s at the bottom of one of those piles? We all have those kinds of and piles around our home. We’ve all been there, we’ve all taken that day to clean up and get everything put away and in order. But in the blink of an eye…they are back!

Thankfully, there are better kinds of “heaping abundance” that we have the opportunity to fill our lives with.

The first heaping abundance gift that can be strewn across our life is grace. The second heaping abundance that we can allow to pile up in our soul is kindness. And the last one, certainly not the least one that we can carry around is an abundance of love. His Love.

OK, so picture with me that pile of stuff on the kitchen counter (you know you have one)but now imagine it was a pile of grace. Think of grace as something that you can see, something you could touch, something you know you would never run out of. How wonderful it would be when you found yourself in a stressful moment of your life, there was a magnanimous amount of grace offered, all you had to do was to go to that pile of grace on your counter and take what you needed!  And lo and behold, there was so much you were able to give some away at the same time. To be able see that pile of grace out of the corner of your eye and be comforted to know that God gave you that abundant heap of grace to use in your life.

I will admit that the times in my life when I have been far less than grateful, it is due to my own selfish desires.  I allow myself to get caught up in what I think I deserve and many times hold the people around me to standards that are impossible to reach. Over the years in a variety of circumstances God has humbled me and reminded me that there is nothing  more powerful than for me to be able to show grace to others. The beauty here is this is when they will see Christ in me. I do not want to reflect an untrue representation of Who the Lord is, but I do that every single time I do not show grace.

One of my daughters recently pointed out to me in an extremely passionate way, to remember that we have no idea what other people are going through and it is up to us to react in a way that is pleasing and honorable to the Lord. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”  It’s not about us…it’s about how we serve those around us while honoring the Lord at the same time.

I don’t believe it’s just talking about a 9-to-5 job scenario. It is in all that we do. It is in the carpool lane on the freeway. It is in the line at the grocery store. It is in the way that we discipline our children when they are young. It is in the way we treat out teens as they are growing from child to adult. It is in the way that we support our husbands after a long hard day. And it is in the way that we treat those around us on a daily basis. Don’t you want that abundant heap of grace around your home… Around your life?  Every day!!‬‬

That brings us to kindness.

What if our soul, the deepest part of our soul had kindness flowing out of it like the never ending pile of clothes in the laundry room? How would your life be different if you pretended that you were carrying around a basket, burgeoning with kindness!  If you bumped into someone they were bound to get some on them. If you tripped and fell, kindness would spill out all around you. If you were sitting having coffee with a friend and you began to quietly attend to the “laundry” in that basket, more than likely your friend would be able to join in and share in that moment…they would be encouraged to participate in an act of kindness. You know how a bunch of clean towels fresh out of the dryer feels so scrumptious & warm? What if you offered your child, your friend, or your spouse, the opportunity to be wrapped in the warmth of your kindness?  Doesn’t that sound delicious!!

With our heaping piles of grace and the warmth of kindness…we dive into love!

I will admit that my favorite part of any meal is dessert. Who doesn’t love to peruse the dessert section of the menu!  When I think about having a “heaping abundance” of love, I will tell you that the first thing that comes to my mind is the huge ice cream sundae called “The Zoo” made famous by Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in Southern California. It has so much ice cream in the bowl that it borderlines on the obnoxious. As my 6th birthday was drawing near, all I wanted to do was have my party at Farrell’s so that my mom could order The Zoo. Because this ice cream sundae was so heavy it was actually carried in by two employees on a specially made tray that was secured on two poles. The two waiters would put this contraption on their shoulders and then two other waiters would lift The Zoo Sundae onto it. But the spectacle didn’t stop there…not by a long shot!  As they emerged from the back of the restaurant, The Zoo was lit up with sparklers and there was someone walking in front of it banging on a huge drum. There were whistles and shouts and everyone in the restaurant knew that someone special was about to be celebrated. At this point, any available wait staff had joined in the parade, and they would all come to the table, march around the party goers, then stop where the birthday person was sitting.  I’d seen it a bunch of times, but this year it was my turn. One waitress helped me stand up on the chair and encouraged everyone in the whole restaurant to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. As the sparklers died down, I blew out the huge candle on top and got to choose the first scoop. I think there was about every kind of ice cream in that thing and at least five kinds of toppings oozing over the top. And of course the crowning glory of it all was probably an entire can of whip cream and a handful of cherries tumbling down. I probably still have all of the plastic zoo animals that hung around the edge of that big silver ice cream bowl, tucked away somewhere.

So considering that this was about 40 years ago, you can see the impact is still there. I can hear the drums and the whistle, I can hear the excited shouts of the waiters announcing that it was my birthday. I can still see my little self standing up on the chair because I wanted to see what was in the bowl. This is the kind of heaping love, the love of Christ and the love we have for Christ that should be brimming to overflowing in our life.

How would it feel?  How would it be to life with the overflowing love of Christ? We could move forward in every part of our life with that much more kindness and that much more grace. We would be able to walk into a room and be ready to celebrate everyone we come in contact with. Whether we are meeting with one friend at a coffee shop because they’re having an extremely difficult time in their life. It can be when we walk onto the campus of our kids school with a ready heart to show the love of Christ to other parents, teachers, and the staff. We can walk around our neighborhood, the grocery store, the gym, everywhere… And people will see that there is something different about us. The way that we carry ourselves. The countenance on our face! Is it daunting to think that some of the people we interact with in our life, that we are the first or possibly the only picture of Jesus that they will see? Absolutely! But it should not be a burden to carry all of this love. It needs to be a joy! Something to share at a moments notice so that people can hear about the love that The father has for them.

Heaping Abundance of Grace.

Heaping Abundance of Kindness.

Heaping Abundance of Love.

Today ~ maybe your grace, kindness, and love are more of a small stack rather than an abundance heap. The best way to grow in all of those areas is simple really. Just practice those characteristics. Do little things to show others that you care, even if you don’t know them.

Let the person behind you who only has one or two items go in front of you at the grocery store. When you notice someone is trying to move lanes on the freeway, slow down a little bit and wave them over. Instead of pointing out the one or two things that are still a mess in your kids room, compliment them on the part that they DID complete. Tell your husband “thank you” when he empties the dishwasher or take out the trash or walk the dog or gets up in the middle of the night with the baby.

All of those things will speak volumes to the people around you and they will have a glimpse of what it is to be covered by the warm, inviting, generous joy of the abundant heaps of grace, kindness, and love that is shown through us by Jesus.

Blessings,

René

Hope is like a belt buckle…

Yesterday, heard a pastor on the radio talking about hope. In that same day I visited my daughters’ high school to watch her sing with the worship team in chapel, and the teacher that spoke to the student-filled auditorium that morning… You guessed it – it was on hope. Later in the afternoon I read several posts from different Christian authors that I follow and all of their messages were about hope. In the evening on my drive home, the host on the radio program I was listening to was talking about hope. So it seemed very clear to me that God was calling me to investigate hope a little bit more and write them down for today.

Now I know my Bible enough to know that in terms of clothing analogies the “belt” in the Christian armor of God, is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). But as I heard the pastor speaking about Hope on that first radio program, he mentioned that hope is really the connection between the past and our future.

Whether it is something that is happening later in the day or even the next day, that is our future because it hasn’t happened yet.

Hope is something that is look forward to.

The radio pastor was encouraging us to remember what we have hoped for in the past and how God has answered those prayers, so that can fuel our hope for whatever it is we are looking forward to in the coming days, months, or years to come.

When I heard this analogy I have to admit that I immediately pictured one of those huge cowboy belt buckles! All blinged out and personalized for the owner.  Come on ~ you know what I’m talking about!!

I got to thinking more of the function of a buckle. The belt buckle must be connected to both ends of the belt fabric, in order to be effective. If we as believers are putting on our spiritual armor every day, which must include the belt of truth, we can in a sense, buckle that belt with the power of hope. Hope in the Lord!

When we know the truth of God’s Word then we can increase our confidence and walk in the hope that the Lord provides us. It says in Romans 5:1-5, Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  And not only that,  but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character,  and proven character produces hope.  This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (emphasis mine).

All of these things rest upon the other. Instead of looking at this list of virtues as a list as if they were all separate, imagine something different with me. Imagine the wood-shake siding of a cute little beach cottage. Each layer is built upon another to create that effect. So it is the same with all the characteristics that are named in this verse. We don’t get to skip some and just choose the ones that we want, or the ones that we think are going to be easier to attain.  That would leave holes in the siding and make the house susceptible to outside dangers.  So it goes with our spiritual life.

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Honestly, we can hope for a great many things. But hope is nothing if we do not have truth to base it on.  Hope is not effective in our life if we do not have faith in the one who gives us that Hope.

I think Romans 5:2 summarizes this concept beautifully ~ “We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

One way to promote the growth of hope in our own lives is to be immersed in community with other Believers.  I have had a variety of experiences in my life that caused great suffering for me.  Had I not had the partnership of those around me to pray for me and lift me up when I did not have the stamina to do so on my own, I shudder to think where I would be in this life.  In fact, scripture tells us of the joyful command from God to be in community.

Hebrews 10:23-25 says, Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering,  for He who promised is faithful.  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

A pastor at my church is well-known for saying, “remember in the dark what God has done in the light.” When we feel that we are in a dark place, that we are suffering, that we are feeling alone, we can take that walk of faith to remember all of the other times that God has lifted us out of a dark place. The moments of suffering that are replaced with rejoicing.

As we think on these things and as we look to scripture to bolster our spirits, we have our faith renewed and that will give life to a new hope in our heart for whatever it is we are trusting God for in the future.

With trust, faith, and hope…these three characteristics in our life are not a guarantee of ease or of even getting what we want or hope for. They are there to sustain us no matter what the outcome of our situation is. It is very difficult when the prayers that are lifted to the Lord from a heavy heart come back to us with the answer of ‘no’ or even the answer of ‘wait’. We do not have any guarantee of comfort, an easy life, or a life without suffering in various degrees.

What we are promised is that no matter what we go through, Jesus will always be by our side.

Forever and ever, Amen!

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Each New Year {especially} starts off with so much anticipation of what is yet to come. Sometimes the year ahead turns out exactly how we had hoped. Sometimes there are tweaks here and there, and sometimes our life is turned upside down.

These are the moments to choose to hold tightly to the hope that is in Jesus Christ. To choose to praise and worship the Father knowing that He truly does have the best in mind for us. God is not in the business of granting wishes or making our dreams come true.

But He will absolutely {and every time} give us what we need.

And what we need is to be filled with His Spirit so that we can shine the light of His glory to the world around us. The people in your realm of influence: be it in an office, a classroom, your own home, or your neighborhood. The Lord has put you right where you are for a specific purpose.

He has a plan for you, and it is good.

Blessings,

René

I Told You So….

So when you read the title, did you immediately picture a charming little scene of one child saying this to another?  Hands on hips, chin jutting out, smirk on face…with the sing-songy lyric, “I toooolllldddd you sooooo!”  Oh man, did I get in trouble if I ever said this to one of my siblings, or worse…if I said it to my Mom!  Yikes!  Just had to happen once and that swat cured me for life….or at least within earshot of my mother.

Today, I want to linger on this phrasing in a positive way.  The Lord Jesus tells us, in so many words, “I told you so” in a variety of circumstances throughout His word.  A more “biblical” way to say it is in all of the “I will” statements the Lord makes.  It is really exciting to me whenever I read the words “I will” because I know that if the Lord said it, He WILL do it!  Most of these verses are positive, but there are some that are in a tone of warning.  But the same is true for both statements ~ what He says He will do…He WILL DO IT!

As early as in Genesis chapter 2, the Lord tells Adam that He will create for him a special helpmate…and He created Eve (vs. 18). Throughout the entire book of Genesis, you can read mulitple accounts of God saving those who worship Him, destroying the earth He made because the people had become so evil, God promising Abraham & Sarah that they would have a child from whom a multitude of descendants would come from including Jesus, God comforting His people when they were discouraged, the promise of new land ~ and that’s just in Genesis!

Of course, the “I will” promises are much easier to take to heart but we have got to be fully aware of the “I will” warnings. We cannot simply go through life taking scripture out of context because it makes us “feel good.”  We cannot twist things around that are meant to be a warning into some kind of proof that we can do whatever we want because Jesus has said that once we confess our sin and our need for a Savior, that He will save us.

Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe that once we are saved by Jesus Christ, we do not lose our salvation.  We do not have to repeat the salvation prayer, “just in case” it didn’t work the first time.  In the same vein, we cannot ever do anything to earn our salvation either.  Only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can do that.

The Lord brings us to Him to be saved, not so we can remain living in our sinful ways…so we can become like Him.  The world is so backwards right now saying that Christians aren’t fair.  True, there are some who call themselves christian and act nothing like the Lord teaches.  And it is true that Jesus will accept everyone exactly as they are.  However…Jesus will not abide by us STAYING exactly as we were.  He calls us to Himself to learn who HE is and how we can mirror His character.

We cannot be a light to the world if we haven’t changed our power source!

Let’s go to the scripture so you can see a few verses showing some of God’s “I Will’s…”

Romans 9:14-16 (HCSB) says, What should we say then? Is there injustice with God Absolutely not! For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.”

I love this because it reminds us that there is nothing that we can do on our own human efforts to change God’s mercy, blessings, grace, or discipline…it will be done as He sets forth.

Genesis 17:2 (HSCB) shows what God the Father says to Abram (aka Abraham after this blessing is spoken over him) when He calls him to leave his comfort zone, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”  And He did.  There were definite hurdles in the story (if you haven’t read it, go now and see how even though Abraham tried to hurry up God’s plan, God still had the final say on it all!)

Psalms 91:14-15 (HSCB), is a promise from the Old Testament as to how God will act toward His people when they believe in Him, Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.” Even when we feel we are not being heard by God, or answered by Him, He does in fact hear our every cry.  He is in tune with our hearts because He loves us.  Remain connected with your Savior and trust that He has your best at heart.

Jeremiah 30:11 (HSCB), (spoken to Israel and Judah through the prophet Jeremiah after the Lord freed them from captivity) For I will be with you— this is the Lord’s declaration— to save you!  I will bring destruction on all the nations where I have scattered you; however, I will not bring destruction on you. I will discipline you justly, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”  The Lord God does not take joy in disciplining us, but because He loves us so much He will do what is needed.  Our lives are to be a reflection of Him and if we are not living out what scripture teaches then we are not representing Him properly to the world.

I love this verse in Isaiah 41:10 (HSCB) because it is a faithful reminder to me that as a believer, I have the power of the living God inside me and I can trust that what the Lord says here in scripture is true, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”

On the other hand, Matthew 7:23 (HSCB) reminds us that those who choose in this life to ignore the authority of Jesus Christ and the fact that they need a Savior, He will have no choice on the day of Judgement but to say, “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!'”  It is difficult to think of this sometimes, but the world has an opportunity every day to choose Christ and choose to serve Him.  When we do choose Him, Matthew 10:32-33 (HCSB) tells us what we will hear, “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.”

John 14:27-29 (HSCB) speaks beautifully to the peace that only God can give us. While John 4:14 (HCSB) shares the promise of the New Testament that the living water of Christ will well up in our soul.  Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB) provides the encouragement that following the Lord is the best way to become unburdened.

Perhaps one of the best “I will” statements that the Lord makes in Scriputre is found in Mark 14:36 (HCSB). “And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Even now as I read this it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.  Because Jesus showed us that His heart was breaking for the task ahead, He ultimately was letting us know that the will of the Father is what is the most important to follow.  Jesus chose to live a human life that was destined for death in order to bring us eternal life that we don’t deserve.

As you read the Bible in your quiet times ahead, look out for those “I will” phrases (the “I told ya so’s). You will never find a promise that is unfulfilled.  You will never find a contradiction of God’s love and grace for us. Rest in His promises!

Blessings,

René

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* (HCSB) ~ Holman Christian Study Bible version *

Becoming UNentitled…

As I sit at my desk, on the cusp of a New Year, there are many thoughts rushing through my mind.

Will I make New Year’s Resolutions?  Will I keep those resolutions?  Should I not make any resolutions?  Do I really have to make any just because it’s “the thing” to do?  Oy vey!

So I’ve decided NOT to make any resolutions ~ I have decided to make an intentional decision to become UNentitled.

Entitlement is a word that is thrown around a lot these days.  Especially in terms of the younger generation of teens and early 20-somethings.  Here’s a shocker for you though…we all of bits of entitlement strewn around our life.  And it’s time to pick them up and get rid of all of it!

Just in case you are curious as to whether or not you walk around with any entitled attitudes, let’s start with my favorite thing to do ~ word study!  To give this little exercise a bit more gravity, insert the word “yourself” in place of  “a person”…if  you really want the impact, read the definition out loud.

Here we go…According to the dictionary, ‘entitle’ or ‘entitlement’ means: 1. to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim.  2. to give (a person) the right to do or have something; qualify; allow.

Still don’t see it?  How about this…have you ever said any one (or more) of the following:

*It’s my right to be upset.  That person cut me off on the freeway.

*It’s my right to be offended.  She was rude to me.

*I’m allowed to angry.  My kids don’t listen to me.

*I’m allowed to be irritated.  My husband doesn’t notice what I’ve done all day around the house.  Do the clothes magically clean themselves?

*It’s my right to hurt. No one understands me and no one really cares about me.

*I’m allowed to sit in my pj’s all days, watch my dvr’d shows, and let everyone fend for themselves because I’m just plain old tired. (yeah..no…this one isn’t personal or anything…)

To be truthful and honest…I’ve been there at various points in my life and have muttered these phrases (and probably others that are just as inane) and felt completely justified in doing so.

                      God’s Word is full of proof that the                             exact opposite is true.  

We are not entitled to anything except death, without trusting in the Lord to save us from our sins.

Proverbs 18:2 (HCSB) is pretty clear as to what kind of person we are not to be, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.”

To be even more clear, in Jesus’ own words He tells us how we are to live our life.  Matthew 16:24-26 (HCSB) says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?”

We don’t like words like ‘deny’ or ‘lose your life’ ~ those do not resonate with our sinful nature of doing whatever we want, when we want, and how we want.  The challenge is there but becomes less when we do follow the Lord and take up the things in our heart that are actions and issues that Jesus loves and is concerned about.

Whether you are a parent or not, you have undoubtedly come across the infamous outpouring of emotional trauma when someone cries out to you, “It’s not fair!”  Oh, that’s my favorite (she says with a smirk!)  My girls know what my response to them will be…every time they say it….”The fair happens once a year and it’s where you can get funnel cake.  Move on.  Life’s not fair.”  I know they hate it when I say it, but I say it with a smile.  Most of the time, they have no idea that that little phrase and the half-smile on my face is what is saving them from a total mommy freak out!

There is responsibility we have to take when we sin and are disobedient.  We do not get to pick and choose what rules apply to our lives.  Simply because we don’t like certain scriptures in the Bible, or laws of the land, or rules in a household, does not preclude us from being accountable when we stray from those statutes.

Ezekiel 18:25-27 (HCSB) says,But you say, ‘The Lord’s way isn’t fair.’  Now listen, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair?  When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, he will die for this. He will die because of the iniquity he has practiced.  But if a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life.”

Our generation of children do not have the corner market on the “it’s not fair” statements. The Israelite’s of the Old Testament have been saying it way before them!

Read that last sentence in Ezekiel again.  What a beautiful promise the Lord gives us!  When we turn away from what we think is our “right” and what we “are allowed” to do, and turn toward the Lord and what He calls us to do, He will ‘preserve our life’ and He will do it immediately!!

On a total side note, a really fun thing that is happening right now as I finish writing this post, is that I have a house full of teens ~ all Seniors in high school…about 25 of them…and they are delightfully loud and full of joy!  They are getting ready to surprise one of their friends for her 18th birthday.  My daughter has been decorating all day and preparing for this event.  The exact opposite of entitlement.  All of these amazing young people have chosen to set aside their own agendas, their own plans, in order to honor one of their friends and make her feel special.  I love this and I’m so excited to be a “fly on the wall” as I listen to them excitedly plan where to hide and when to yell, “SURPRISE!”

How will you lay aside your “rights” this New Year?  How will you decide to set aside your agenda in order to honor your friends? Your family?  What will you do when you feel the ugliness of entitlement begin to rise in your heart?

Stop and breathe and pray!

Whatever we ask of the Lord, that is according to HIS purposes and goals for our life, He will easily and surely give to you.  When you ask Him to give you a patient heart with your children (no matter how old they are!), when you ask the Lord to give you grace with the people driving slower than you on the freeway, when you feel offended by someone does or says, when you feel unappreciated ~ ask the Lord to fill you with His peace…with His goodness…with His grace.

And He will absolutely and perfectly do just that!

Enter each day with an attitude of service ~ trade out the entitlement and choose to find those ways to bless others.  You will not be disappointed when you follow the path that God has for you.

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Blessings,

René

 

 

My Whole Life is Going to be Busy…

Ironically, I began this post two weeks ago…I should’ve known!  Every day is full of busyness and guess what…every day for the rest of your life will be filled with busyness!  It just cannot be an excuse any longer.  We will always be busy with something ~ even if that “something” is doing nothing.

I know that I make plenty of excuses as to why things don’t get done.  I also realize that there are times when I really need to get things done and accomplish specific tasks, but I can’t do them in a timely manner because I’m still dealing with something that should have been taken care days (or months) beforehand. Time just gets away from me and I’m sure you have experienced this too.

The times I feel the worst about being “too busy” is when I have not scheduled things in my day appropriately and the consequences are usually ones that my family has to pay.  Dinner is not ready at a decent hour.  Dishes are piled high in the sink for the third day in a row.  I’m late picking someone up, or dropping them off.  And the consequence I deal with the most is staying up far too late to finish up a bunch of little tasks that I could have done during the day so that I could go to bed early and stay healthy.

But this blog isn’t about all the “shoulda woulda coulda’s” in our life; and it certainly isn’t intended to bring on guilt.  We all do that to ourselves far too easily anyway!

My hearts desire is to encourage you to take a step back, breathe in deep, and know that through all the busyness of life there are ways to create space.  The Lord has been giving me great ideas on how to do this and I want to share them with you.

Now, if you have little ones and you’re reading this…trust me, I remember those days and sometimes your day (or your week!) just buzzes by in a blur and you realize you’ve been wearing the same clothes for a few days and can’t remember the last time you washed your hair.  But it’s all worth it when you look back and see all that you did for your kiddos.  You being present with them, reading a book or playing a game, just being WITH them is way more important that what you have on or what your hair looks like.  There are still ways to find those “spaces” in your day, so hang in there.  They look completely different than that of someone who doesn’t have little ones at home, and it’s supposed to.

Sometimes that “breathing space” is all in our head…and in a great way!  Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) says, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”  

Simply by filling our mind with the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our thought processes (ie…how we manage our time and daily tasks), then we will have peace.  Notice that this doesn’t say we will have perfection.  It means that we will be able to deal with all the craziness of life in a peaceful way.  It means that when we need to speak into a situation, we can speak life instead of death.  What I mean by this is that we can be encouraging instead of nagging to our children when they need to pick up their toys, or their disaster zone rooms.  We can peacefully find ways to let them know how important it is to pay attention to what you are asking of them instead of knee-jerk reactions of hollering at them to just get it done.

So if we are too fill our minds with scripture to draw from when we need, how are we to accomplish this?  Life is just so busy!

Here’s the best answer ~ our God is an incredibly creative God and He created you perfectly so He has the exact answer for YOU!  Ask Him to give you ideas that will blend in with your family activities and with your particular daily tasks.

Let’s face it though, it’s super easy to find time to scroll through social media or even sit and read a few blogs (thank you by the way!).  I’m right there with ya!

I want to encourage you to find what works for YOU!  One of the greatest benefits you will recieve is that the more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you will WANT to spend with Him.  The more you are filled up, the more you can pour out to others and then run back to the arms of your loving Father who will gladly fill you up again and again and again!

HE WILL NEVER EVER RUN OUT OF WHAT YOU NEED TO BE FILLED!!  EVER!!

Acts 2:25-28 (ESV) remind us what King David penned in the Old Testament, For David says concerning him,“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”

So…ideas…here’s a few that I will be implementing into my new schedule.  Take a peek and see what might work for you, or how you can tweak it to work in your schedule.

* After dropping off the kiddos at school, make a quick pit stop at a local coffee shop or park with the express intention of reading through your devotional…and NOT to meet up with a girlfriend, at least until after you have had your time with the Lord.

* Put your devotional time in your calendar to make sure you don’t over-schedule your day.

* If you have to sit in car-line (not gonna lie…super glad that part of my day is over!) go EARLY!  Take your Bible, devotional, or whatever study you are going through with you and work on it in the car for a bit without any distractions.

* Wake up earlier ~ I don’t like this one, but I know for me that God is asking me to give Him more of day and for me it means to wake up an hour early.  It’s gonna be a struggle for the first few days, but I’m committed to getting back to this. {As I write this, my last daughter is a Senior in high school and drives herself to school, so my “early” is probably a regular time for y’all}.

* While you are driving in the car instead of listening to the radio, take that time to pray to the Lord ~ share your day with Him…what you are doing, where you are going, how you would like direction for the tasks ahead.  Or listen to some praise music and allow the Holy Spirit to flood your soul with uplifting songs.

* As you sit down to the computer or to watch your favorite DVR’d TV show, ask yourself if you have spent time with the Lord yet.  If you haven’t, take that moment to read some scripture and pray.  And if you don’t know what to pray, pray aloud the scripture you were going to read.  And if you’re really stuck, look at the date on the calendar and find the chapter in Proverbs that has the same number and pray the verses you read.  I promise that even if you physically don’t feel refreshed, the Holy Spirit will refresh and renew your mind.  Scripture NEVER leaves you empty ~ it will always fill you up!

* While you wash dishes, do the laundry, finish up housework ~ you can spend time with the Lord too!  Thank Him that you have a home to care for and a family to fill it up.  And when you’re done, thank Him that you had the energy to accomplish all that you did.

Cheesy or not, there’s just a few to get started with and I bet the Lord is giving you great ideas already how to combat the busyness of life with the calmness of His Word.  I’d love to hear from you to see how God is working in your life to bring you peace and life.

I will always be busy.  You will always be busy.  That busyness will look different in everyone’s life ~ stop comparing yourself to others.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to sway your life in the direction of spending time with the Father will always result in the same thing ~ a life of peace and calm that will help you in your time of need as well as in the moments when you are needed by others.

When you hold the empty cup of your day to be filled with the everlasting joy and strength of the Lord, you will be filled to overflowing…and that’s a promise!

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Blessings,

René

 

Jesus IS Enough…

The past few months, I will admit that I’ve let so many circumstances get jumbled up in my brain so much that they traveled into my heart, and created quite a bit of havoc in my thinking!  Did that makes sense?  I hope so…and not that I would wish the same upon anyone else, but I sure hope I’m not alone here.  Just being honest with you.

Why do we that?  Why do we take an event, a circumstance, a conversation, a tone or a look, someone’s body language ~ and create an entire narrative that begins to haunt us whether we are asleep or awake.  Why do I allow my thoughts to grab hold of something, dig in its proverbial teeth and not let go?

Flippant answer ~ because we’re human.

Real answer ~ because we want control…and we want what we want when we want it…that’s why!

Oh, don’t get me wrong…when I have those sleepless nights and days filled with “what if” scenarios that mess with my mind and confuse the reality of life, I definitely pray.  I pray and ask God to take those things from my mind.  I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fight the battle on my behalf.  I pray and put on the whole armor of God.

And He does…the Lord has never not answered a prayer.  Maybe not always how I want it to go, but He always answers me!

But sometimes, just five minutes later, I’ve let the door of doubt crack open just enough that the enemy throws another log on the fire of frustration & anxiety. {Sigh!}

Most days, I stay in the battle until God relieves me from the issues at hand.  And nothing feels quite as victorious as a victory with the Lord against the spiritual forces at play!  However, I’ll be honest with you…some days, I just want to curl up and binge-watch InkMaster (don’t judge me people!) and eat some chocolate!

But here’s the best part of all of this…

Jesus IS Enough!

He really is and He can prove it ~ actually He doesn’t have to prove anything to me because He is the Alpha and Omega…the beginning and the end.  But He shows me in His scripture, He shows me through “Verse of the Day” texts I get on the variety of apps I have on my phone, He shows me via a text or phone call from a friend who “just happened to be thinking of me in that moment” and wanted to encourage me in my day.

I John 4:7 (HCSB) says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

What about those times that we allow ourselves to dwell on actual things that have truly happened and have made an indelible mark on our heart?  The intentional harsh word from a friend?  The cruel comment made about you by someone that didn’t realize you could hear them?  The friend who gossips about you and it gets back to you (because you know…it always does)?

Those are not false hurts.  Those wounds happened TO you, and are not because you are trying to control the situation.  Those moments of heart-pain are most difficult to process, because they weren’t an accident.  They weren’t stories concocted in the “what if” part of your thought life.

But still my friend, even in those times {and maybe ESPECIALLY in those times}, Jesus IS Enough!

Psalm 123:2-4 (HCSB) says, “Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us favor.  Show us favor, Lord, show us favor, for we’ve had more than enough contempt. We’ve had more than enough scorn from the arrogant and contempt from the proud.”

The Lord’s eyes are always on us.  He is always near to gather us to Him and show us comfort. The Holy Spirit is always available to act as our advocate at the foot of the throne when there are no words that can come out of our mouth. Jesus understands deep wounds of the heart.  He knows the damage gossip and untruths can cause.  And He knows the frustration of a situation that isn’t going as planned.

Matthew 6:33-34 (HCSB) is a promise that has truly become a comfort to me, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Yes…that is actually quite comforting to me.  Living the Christian life does in NO WAY…like ZERO…promise an easy ride.  You can search the scriptures but you will never find that promise.  Jesus knows that everyday will have troubles of its own ~ some days the troubles are like tiny little pebbles we can easily cast aside, and some troubles seem as difficult to traverse as it would be to climb Mt. Everest!  Yet, He is there through it all!  While on earth in His human form, Jesus went to spend time alone in prayer and conversation with the Father.  If Jesus did this…we have got to make time with God a priority as well!!

This passage from John 14:7-9 is one that I absolutely LOVE!  Jesus is enough in part because He is not alone either.  He is a part of the Holy Trinity.  They work together, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to watch over us and care for us when we are hurting and struggling with life.  Read these beautiful words,“If you know Me, you will also know  My Father. From now on you do know Him  and have seen Him.” “Lord,” said Philip,  “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (emphasis mine).

When we see Jesus working in our life, when we feel the Holy Spirit guiding our thoughts and actions, when we know that God is putting the details of our life together ~ we have seen the Father.  We have seen the Trinity.

So with all these truths and promises, what do we do as Christians in this life?  Ephesians 6:19-20 (HCSB) encourages us this way,Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”  The Apostle Paul wrote these words when he was ending his letter to the church in Ephesus.  We can have this same prayer as we go about our typical day, or a quite atypical time of life.

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We need to be bold in our daily walk, in the testimony of our life, and in our speech and habits.  The sinful humanity of life in this world, will do its very best to get in our way every single day.  But we already have the victory in Jesus.

Jesus IS Enough.

Let me leave this posting with verses from Romans 12:9-21.  If you are ever wondering how we are to act in the face of real (or imagined) issues, here is the answer.  With the strength of God who created the heavens and the earth, you absolutely can life out your days with honor as you bring glory to the Father who loves you and wants you reconciled to Him.

Love must be without hypocrisy.  Detest evil;  cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.  But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”  {Romans 12:9-21, HCSB}

Blessings,

René

God crossed enemy lines!

My heart is breaking for our world…for the sadness that seems to have covered our nation…

However ~ I am not without HOPE!  

No matter where I have found myself in my life, there is always HOPE!  I do not say this as a cute little “christian-ese” phrase…I totally and absolutely believe it!  But it is not MY hope that I have tucked down in the marrow of my bones.  It is the hope that my precious Lord gives me every day.

But what do we do when we feel without hope?  What do we do when we see those around us crippled by hopelessness?  Sometimes, well let’s be honest ~ most of the time ~ we cannot fix someone else’s sense of hopelessness.  But we can pray and we can cry out to God for help.  Why?  Not because He is a proverbial genie in a bottle, but because He cares for us immensely more than we really can comprehend.

Let’s think about this…

From the time that Adam stood next to Eve (Genesis 3:6-7), and they both ate of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God crossed over enemy lines to get us back!  In that moment, He began His mission of reconciliation between God and man.  He searched them out in the Garden of Eden, and He did so in love.  He did not stomp about the garden yelling for Adam and Eve to come out of their hiding place (because…you know…He knew where they were the whole time!)  How it must have caused God to cringe as He watched His creation take the bait of the enemy!

In Genesis 3:8-13, we see how God asked questions of Adam and Even, and listened to their excuses as to why they had disobeyed.  Hello to the beginning of placing blame, deflecting the issue onto someone else, and basically trying to get out of trouble for something you know you did wrong!  But God listened.

I imagine Him sitting there in the Garden, talking with Adam & Eve, but NEVER taking His eyes of the Serpent in the background.  When He had heard enough, He had no choice but to hand out discipline.  I imagine Him then standing tall and stepping between Adam & Eve, to face the Serpent.  God gave out the first line of punishment to the Serpent (verse 14 & 15).  Upon creating Adam & Eve, and showing them all the delights of the Garden, He told them all of the things they could do and all that they could eat.  Only ONE THING could they not take part in, and what would happen if they crossed that line.

In that one moment, so began the earthly journey of our lives ~ being pursued by the God that loves us so much that He crossed enemy lines by sending His only Son to the earth to bring us back to Him.  We cannot handle seeing the glory of God the Father, but He planned it all so that we could look upon His Son and see the face of God.

I think the ultimate act of ‘crossing the enemy lines’ is when Jesus was resurrected and during the 3 days of His death, He went down into the belly of hell and took back the keys of death.  Jesus, the Son, overcame death forever.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the absolute confirmation that we are so loved by our God.  He wants to be reconnected with us through the resurrection and salvation of His Son.  Jesus Christ has the victory of EVERYTHING!  There is nothing in our life, in our neighborhood, in our nation, in our world, or in our universe that He has not ALREADY overcome!  The power of the Creator of the Universe lives within us when we humble ourselves and receive Him as our Savior.

There has not been one generation, even since the beginning of the first family created by Adam & Eve, that has not bucked up against God having control of their life.  King Solomon writes an entire book (Ecclesiastes) about how there is ‘nothing new under the sun.’  Read these words that were penned centuries ago and you will see that they could have been written by any number of journalists today…

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10, All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us.” 

God is not surprised by unrest, by hate, by unkind actions, by war, by bitterness, by thoughts/acts of revenge, or by disobedience.

God is full of love and second chances for us to come to Him.

Psalm 36:6-8, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” 

Psalm 66:19-20But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”

Romans 5:7-9 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Oh…these are just a few of the promises in God’s word about how much He loves us and what He will do to bring us back to Him.  There are so many eloquent passages in God’s Word that speak of His great love for us!

If God is so willing and able to cross enemy lines, we have the same power to willingly and ably cross those same lines of the enemy around us and stand for Christ!  Calling out to receive Him and call Him Savior grants us the access to that kind of spiritual power! Stand up for the things that make His heart cry out, stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, and stand up for those who are without hope.

Be the light to the world ~ that shines hope and faith to everyone around them.  If there are hardships that you are going through right now, don’t mope around like you are powerless!  You have every gift of the Holy Spirit within you to conquer every single aching moment of life you will encounter.  It is one of our callings as Christians to show the world that they can have hope in this dismal world.

You can overcome!

John 16:32-33 says, Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

…and in Romans 12:21, we read, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 I know I have quoted a lot of scripture in today’s blog, but there are no words that I could imagine that would so succinctly state what is in my heart to share with you.  Take heart today that you are not alone.  You are not defeated.  You are not in a losing battle.  Trust in the truth of God’s Word, even when (and especially when!) you are feeling a bit hopeless.
You have the victory in Christ because He crossed enemy lines
to get you back!
I John 5:3-5 promises, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Blessings,

René

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