Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Good News from a Far Country

It is always so wonderful to me when I hear good news “from a far country.”  Sometimes, the distance really isn’t that far, but just far enough.  If you ask some of the people we know, asking them to travel to the Pasadena area from their homes seems like we are asking them to travel to a far country!  LOL!!  Really….20 minutes?  In SoCal, that’s a quick trip! If you aren’t from this area, I’m sure I will bewilder you when I tell you that in order to visit my sweet niece, her husband, and their three beautiful daughters, it takes an hour AND 7 freeways to get there…yes, I said SEVEN!  But it’s always worth it!

We have friends & family from all over the country…great places to visit…Montana, Tennessee, Washington, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, Texas…just to name a few.  At this point in time, the most “far country” person in my life is our middle daughter who lives in Kona, HI.  And soon she will be ministering with YWAM in an area in Southeast Asia…that’s REALLY REALLY FAR!  I’m so beyond thankful for technology that allows us to keep in contact so easily.  Our oldest daughter used to live in Seattle and many times that seemed like a far away country.  And with our youngest still at home, I think she sometimes feels like high school is a foreign country!  🙂

When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher was a darling little woman from the Philippines.  We learned very quickly, however, not to underestimate her authority in the classroom.  Small but mighty is a great description for her!  At that time in the L.A. area, the public school systems were beginning to severely decline in their organization.  These poor teachers wouldn’t find out what grade they were teaching for the year until practically the day before school began.  Surprise surprise that the first 4-6 weeks of school, we didn’t have the books or curriculum that we needed.  But with Mrs. Hidalgo in charge, our little class did not suffer from “nothing to do” syndrome.  We were learning about foreign countries, and she taught us how to write our first research paper.  I remember I was given the country of Venezuela and I think I still have that report somewhere ~ I was quite proud of it!  After we were done with that, we all received our new pen pal (through a national service that matched 6th graders with other students the same age in foreign countries).  Christl from Belgium became my new pen pal friend ~ and although it’s not 1-2 letters a week that we would send/receive from each other back in the day, we still exchange Christmas cards all these years later!  I even had the privilege of meeting her in person about seventeen years ago.  It was so amazing to hang out in Ghent with her and see where she lived.

So how do these stories play into the theme for today?  Here’s the verse that I read in Proverbs 25:25“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  I don’t know about you but on a hot day, or a day that I haven’t had enough water, drinking a nice cool glass of water has a remarkable affect on me.  The taste of it on your tongue immediately begins to quench that thirst, then the flow of the water just hits you as swallow and you can feel it going down, refreshing all parts of your body.  Now, I am not a doctor, but I do know that the water doesn’t actually travel into all parts of your body like it’s filling up a water balloon.  But the EFFECTS of that cool water nourishes your entire system from the top of your head to the tip of your toes!!  Okay, I’ll wait…go get a glass of water and then come back!

Proverbs 25 verse 25

I am continually amazed by the healing properties of water ~ so of course the Lord would use water in so many analogies and parables throughout His ministry.  Water into wine (John 2), the Woman at the Well, (John 4), the commandment of the water’s power (Luke 8), and being baptized by John the Baptist as He began His ministry on earth (Matthew 3),  just to name a few.

Water is remarkable ~ it brings life, it nourishes, it refreshes, it cleanses, it is powerful, it is gentle, it is perfect and cannot be duplicated.  Sound like Someone else I know ~ Jesus has all of these attributes and more.  And more importantly, Jesus cannot be duplicated.  I would like to challenge you to look at areas of your life where you are seeking to fill your life with things (or people) that cannot truly fill you.

John 7:37-38 provides a beautiful picture of how truly simple it is to receive the Lord and the blessings He intends to give us ~ “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  Isaiah 12:3 prophesied with these words, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

And the promises that will be fulfilled in God’s perfect timing, found in Revelation, are some of the most beautiful words in all of scripture to me ~

Revelation 7:17“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 21:6“And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Revelation 22:1-2, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree werefor the healing of the nations.”

Revelation 22:17“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Throughout my life as I have served the Lord, as I have had seasons of drought, seasons of plenty, times of doubt and thankfully more times of trust, the promises of the Lord my God have remained true and steady.  Praise the Lord that my faithLESSness doesn’t weaken His faithFULLness!  *I know I spelled that wrong…but wanted to highlight the best part of God’s fullness in my life!*  He showed how faithful He is to give me what I need just last night on the eve of my birthday.  (Yep!  Today is the big day….and I am proud to say that I am 47 now!).  The enemy was working over-time, trying to make me feel inadequate because I had (again!) not accomplished all that I had thought I would in this past year since my last birthday.  I was beginning to go down that dark road of doubt and sadness…I could literally feel the joy of the day being choked out of my heart.  Had I done ANYTHING worth it in this past year?  Yes!  By God’s grace…YES!  Had I failed at some things and not come close to completion on a few others, you bet.  But did that make me less deserving of God’s grace and unconditional love?  No way!!  God has given me a most amazing husband who is such a tower of strength and encouragement ~ he doesn’t let the self-pity thing go very far, reminding me that he loves me no matter what.  And more importantly, reminds me that God loves me despite my failures.  It is in those times of failure and disillusionment that I need to not just turn to the Lord, I need to break out full speed ahead and RUN to my Savior!

Jeremiah 31:12, “They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.”

I want to be like a well watered garden and no longer languish through life!  I want to flourish with joy and contentment in all areas of my life, trusting that God has good things planned for me!  And I want that for YOU too!!

My first “Happy Birthday” message came from my Kona girl at 1:18am.  I woke to the sweet sounds of my husband and two girls at home singing “Happy Birthday” to me. I have received more texts and and humbly abundance of well-wishes and blessings from friends and family near and far.  I have had “Good News” from far-away places.  And I live in a place today knowing that the Living Water from my Lord sustains me like no other.  I am a Daughter of the King and He is radiant over me with His goodness.  I can function from a mind-set where I know that I have salvation that I cannot earn or purchase, but an eternal life that I have been given through the price Christ paid on the Cross.  I can declare the truths and promises about me and for me, that the Lord has set forth ~ I do not have to walk on that dark path of doubt.  God has a plan and path for me ~ and for YOU ~ and guess what….Satan cannot walk on that path with us.  He can’t!  He’s not allowed.  He can only stand on the sidelines and try to lure us away, tripping us up with his lies and deceit.  He cannot dwell in the same place as the Lord.  Because you are HIS, you are safe.  I am in His strong and mighty hands.

Isaiah 46 verse 4

These sweet words in Isaiah are like water to my soul and joy to my heart ~ I have a long way to go until I have reached “old age” but I have the fantastic knowledge that God will be there with me each step of the way.  He will guide me, carry me, bear my burdens with me, and save me for Himself.

My birthday wish to you ~ that you allow the Lord to bring you His good news of salvation and grace.  He’s waiting right there for you and will never turn away from you.  Trust me ~ I know that I wouldn’t have made it to my 47th birthday without the strength I have received over and over and over again from the Lord.  HE is my greatest gift and I know my Father loves me.  He loves you like crazy too!!

Blessings,

René

 

Bonus note ~ just as I was writing this blog, I received some “Good news from a far country” ~ Savannah called to say “Happy Birthday!”  What a joy!  Oh, and these photos (with the scripture on them) are from the gorgeous drives I was blessed to take with my friend Jenn in Montana last week.

 

**All scripture references can be easily found on http://www.biblegateway.com

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

But God?!

“But Mom!  That’s not fair!”, “But Dad!  Mom said I could!”, “But why?  I don’t deserve this!”  Sound familiar?  How about, “But God?  Why did this happen? Why did I lose my job?  Why did my friend have to die?  Why can’t I have a lot of money?  Why do I have to go through this trial?”  And so on and so on.  We’ve all been there….at least, I’m pretty sure we have.  If you have never ~ like, ever! ~ found yourself questioning God on any aspect of your life that didn’t seem fair, please tell me how you do it.

In recent bible studies and scripture reading, I have come across a phrase that I’ve probably seen a bunch of times before, but it is hit me freshly in the past few months.  I know I’ve said it before (and I did in my bible study group this morning!), I absolutely and thoroughly LOVE that God will shine a light on a passage of His Word in a new and impactful way because of what He wants to teach me in that specific moment.  God’s Word never changes, but we do and when we get closer to Him and are careful enough to study His Word, we can see things in a brand new way that we never did before.  God’s Word is alive and well people!  It ain’t going anywhere!!

So, what’s the phrase?

But God…

These two words are used congruently in the Bible about 35 times. And I made sure to read all of them so that I would be beyond certain of what I share with you today.

In each of these circumstances, God was either giving a promise, giving a warning, or giving a way out.  But God.  The word ‘but’ is a conjunction, but can be used as a preposition, an adverb, a noun, or an idiom. The definition found in dictionary.com says: on the contrary; yet; except; save; unless; if not; except that (followed by a clause, often with that expressed); without the circumstance that; otherwise than; who not; that not.

So these verses can be described by saying: yet God, except God, save God, unless God, if not God, who not than God.  God’s Word never wastes a letter, even a three letter word, ‘but,’ can describe a wealth of emotion in the circumstance.

2 Chronicles 20:15 and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 

Job 28:23 “But God understands the way to wisdom, and He knows its location.”

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”

Ephesians 2:4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,”

These verses bring joy to my heart in knowing that God is for me!  I do not have to be afraid of the world and what is in it, but I do need to be aware of what is in the world and what is going on in the spiritual realm so that I can be protected.  As you just read in Job 28:38, God knows where His wisdom is kept and He knows how to impart that wisdom to us.  God always provides a way out of a difficult situation.  But what happens when we feel God isn’t being fair?

One of the things I’ve said to my girls in the past (that they don’t particularly enjoy) is when I hear them say, “But that’s not fair!”  I respond with “Fair?  Fair is a place where you can ride a Ferris wheel and eat funnel cake.”  I laugh…they usually do not.  For the most part, it stops the complaint from going farther.  One of the hardest parts of having my three lovely girls, is when they feel one sister is getting something that they aren’t.  How many times have I had the conversation with one of them about how the big sister gets to have this certain privilege and you don’t…because you are 9 and they are 15.  Six years doesn’t seem to be a huge age gap, but it is.  And it doesn’t seem fair.  When the 15 year-old was 9, they had the same rules, but the current 9 year-old doesn’t remember that because said 9 year-old was THREE!  I guess in a way, we were riding a Ferris wheel!

So when we feel life isn’t being fair, where to we go?  We can run to the everlasting arms of Jesus and He will absolutely comfort us.  We can have strength from the Lord as only He can give and learn to be satisfied with what is going on in our life.  It is definitely a learning process to be content and satisfied.  If we could come by contentedness easily, we wouldn’t need the Lord.  We wouldn’t need to rely on anyone but ourselves.  Then we ultimately wouldn’t need a Savior.  How sad is that thought.

There is nothing that we can summon up within ourselves, all by ourselves, that will truly amount to anything.  The gifts and talents we have, have been given to us by the Lord.  We have a choice what we are going to do with them, but unless we submit those choices to the Lord, disappointment will be around every corner.  Again…and cautiously I say…submitting our will to the Lord and being obedient to the call He has on our life, does not guarantee a blissful life free of problems.  I know I’ve written on this idea before, but I think it bears repeating simply because it’s something we deal with often.  Sometimes we deal with it on a daily basis.  Well, I do at least…and I bet I’m not alone here.  I get caught up in running off down a path that I’m sure will be pleasing to the Lord ~ I’ve prayed about it, I’ve received counsel from others that I trust, all the pieces seem to be coming together ~ and then I ask God to join me on my journey.  Did you catch that?  “My journey.”  This is completely backwards.  I truly may be taking correct steps forward, but unless I submit that desire and choice to the Lord, I’ll end walking on the edge of the path God has for me, instead of right smack down the center of the path where He is leading me.  I need to join God on His journey that He has planned for me.

There are also several occasions in scripture where we see that God has had to discipline His people because they have walked off the proverbial path.

Romans 11:22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”

This verbiage may surprise you…that God can be described as kind and as severe in the same sentence.  But He is.  His kindness went so far as to create a plan where Jesus His Son, would come to earth and through His death and resurrection, create a most beautiful free gift of salvation ~ a reconciliation and a restoration of our life back to our Heavenly Father.  How many of us have a pure heart of kindness that we would die for someone in order to save them?  (!! I do not believe that we can die and save someone to eternity, by the way…just wanted to make that clear!!)  But really, our hearts, due to their base sin nature would never be able to do that for anyone.

Only God.  Except for God. If not for God.  ~  We would be lost.

Before we start thinking we are doing so well in terms of how we serve the Lord, how we honor Him with our praise and thanksgiving, we must remember that even in those activities we can become full of ourselves instead of full of the Holy Spirit.  God does not abide in the self-elevation we are guilty of.  Just because we “aren’t’ as bad as that guy over there,” doesn’t mean we are free from being disciplined due to sin in our life.  Luke 16:15 says, “And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.”

It amazes me sometimes that I can forget that God knows my heart and my mind.  I cannot hide anything from Him, so why in the heck do I think I can get away with unconfessed sin.  Afterall, I’m not being hunted by law enforcement, I haven’t killed anyone, I haven’t robbed anyone, so I’m a really good person.  But sin…is sin!  I know I am being pursued by the Holy Spirit to live a righteous life.  I know I need to be truthful in love so as not to destroy a dream that a loved one has shared with me.  I know I need to speak encouragement into the lives of those around me so that I do not destroy the tender heart who shares vulnerably with me about their life.

But God….

I am so very glad, beyond thrilled really, that God has intervened to bring me back to Him; that He wants to pursue me back to relationship with Him.  And He loves me enough to show me in His Word that He has a plan; a perfect plan.  I am thankful for His mercy and grace in my life.  Let me encourage you to trust the Lord, believe that our Heavenly Father has the best life for you.  Turn to Him in the darkest moments and ask Him for strength, as much as you honor Him with praise and thanksgiving in the best of life’s moments.  If you do not know the Lord today as your personal Savior, I would love to pray with you and for you ~ message me!  But you can start by reading the book of John in the New Testament ~ simply opening up a Bible or typing in http://www.biblegateway.com and put the word “John” into the search bar.  Holman Christian Study Bible or New International Version are the easiest to read.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Blessings,

René

Job 28 verses 23,28

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/but?s=t

*”but God” search:  https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/quicksearch=but+God&qs_version=HCSB&limit=500

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Captive OR Captivated?

Are you living a life that is held captive by something or are you living a life that is captivated by Someone?

What’s the difference you say?

BIG difference!

To be captive by someone means to be “a prisoner;slave; made or held prisoner, especially in war.”  To be captivated by someone is the opposite, to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence ~ one is negative and one is positive.

If you are familiar with the Old Testament, there were laws set in place by God that the Israelite’s were to follow.  These laws served an important purpose in their lives as God’s people were able to focus on serving Yahweh (God the Father).  There were covenants made between God and His people (all throughout the book of Genesis); the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20); a variety of Festivals honoring God (Exodus 23); sacrificial offerings for forgiveness of sin and for celebration (the book of Leviticus); and other laws that were given to the Levitical priests (the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy).

So. Many. Lists.

In the New Testament, Jesus came with the express purpose of teaching us directly about the Father and the grace & mercy He was offering.  Jesus wants to reconcile and redeem ALL of the people back to relationship with God the Father.  However, it just seemed “too incomprehensible” to the Jewish leaders of the day to believe that everything they had been doing for centuries, were no longer needed.  Jesus wanted to shed light on the fact that the Jewish people were living as captives to an old set of laws that didn’t need to be practiced anymore.  Why?

Jesus coming to earth as a man AND at the SAME TIME as part of the Trinity, and eventually fulfilling prophecy of being crucified and risen again, we mind-blowing!  By each miracle, by each teaching, by each healing ~ and ultimately by His Resurrection, Jesus made the absolute and FINAL sacrifice for us.  With that fulfillment of Old Testament promised prophecy, the old laws that governed the Jewish people (and all people for that matter) were finished.

The gap was forever bridged by the cross.  

The throne room of grace was opened for everyone to enter into and sit at the feet of the Father.  The Holy Spirit was made available to live in us and be our Intercessor.

But habits can be hard to break.

There are so many amazing truths that have come to fruition by the coming, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can move from being captive to the old laws, to being captivated by the beauty, grace, and mercy of the Lord.  HIS ways are meant to be attractive to us, to hold our attention so that we can live a full and complete life.  Hear me when I also say that these promises of the Lord do not mean we will be exempt from troubles.   If I could sit across from you at one of my favorite coffee shops, I would listen to you as you poured out your heart and hope to encourage you not to lose hope…to not lose faith in God’s goodness.

At bible study today, one of the women in my group shared a powerful image with us.  We were talking about having faith and peace in our lives, the kind that only can come from strength in the Lord.  She held her coffee cup up and squeezed it just a bit.  She likened that motion as to what we do when we are holding “the cup” (whatever circumstance we find ourselves in) that God has given us but then we start gripping it, squeezing it as we try to take back that situation and bring it under our own control.  We have to learn to be content in the place we are at…easy or difficult…it is a place of God’s design.

No need to just take my word for it ~ read the promise from God in His Living Word in Romans 6:14“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  I think I hear a Hallelujah from somebody out there!

My encouragement to you today as you read this, is that you make that full transition to become CAPTIVATED by the immense peace and beauty of our Lord Jesus.  When we allow our entire mental, emotional, and spiritual attention to be focused on Him, we will be able to be confident on the road ahead.  We can have faith that as we follow Him, He will not disappoint.

Romans 7 verse 6Blessings,

René

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/captive?s=t

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/captivate?s=t

*All verses found at: https://www.biblegateway.com

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Beautiful Feet

I’m as ready as the next gal to go get a pedicure ~ I love getting pedicures!  I really need to go get one, and soon!  I love the whole experience…soaking my feet in warm soapy water, having someone carefully take each foot out of the water, dry it off, slough off the dead skin (sorry…but you know that’s part of it!), remove the callouses (you know you have them too!) and then…the best part…sweet smelling heated lotion and the foot and leg massage.  Ahhhh….. I would seriously pay money just to have someone rub my feet and calves for an hour.  I think my husband would let me know since rubbing my feet is not one of his favorite jobs.  Oh, and then the nail polish, carefully chosen to match the season or the weekend event.  When the foot transformation is complete, I look down at my lovely little toes and smile.  “There!  My feet are beautiful again!” I exclaim to the pedicurist.  “Thank you!”  And off I go.

Did you know the Bible talks about beautiful feet?  It does indeed ~ but in a bit of a different way.  In the Old Testament, Isaiah 52:7 prophecies of how beautiful it will be when the Savior comes to bring the good news of the gospel of peace, to a world that has no idea how desperately they need to hear it.  The promise of what is to come seems too good to be true. Take a jump into the New Testament and the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:15“and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” ~ this was truly a radical statement to the people of Ephesus.  Not only was Paul teaching the new Believer’s how to be prepared to fight the battles of Satan and his demons (read more in *Ephesians 6 regarding the whole armor of God) he was making them aware to KEEP the ‘sandals, or shoes, of peace’ on your feet in a state of readiness for whatever comes our way, at ALL times.

It hit me in a fresh new way just this week reading in Ephesians and I love the way the NASB (New American Standard Bible) puts the phrase, “…having shod…”  He’s saying, “Listen, you have already put these shoes of peace on because you have been preparing yourself by studying God’s word and by being in a restored & reconciled relationship with Him.  So go out and spread the good news of God’s great love.”  You know, the word ‘gospel’ was not used in the Old Testament at all.  Not once.  Thanks to the amazing dvd (session 4) led by Priscilla Shirer in “The Armor of God” bible study curriculum, I learned this fact today.  I also checked my handy online bible verse web site and it’s true!  Since I used the NASB version in the verse above, we’ll stick with this one and see that the word ‘gospel’ is used 97 times BUT only in the New Testament.   As the saying goes, that word was just too good to be true to the early believer’s.

In the Matthew Henry Commentaries**, he writes this with regard to Ephesians 6:15, “It is styled the gospel of peace because it brings all sorts of peace, peace with God, with ourselves, and with one another. It may also be meant of that which prepares for the entertainment of the gospel, namely, repentance. With this our feet must be shod: for by living a life of repentance we are armed against temptations to sin, and the designs of our great enemy.”  This kind of revelation to Jews and Gentiles of that time, seemed too good to be true.  That we could truly be reconciled to relationship with Abba, our Heavenly Father.

So take a moment, soak your feet in the comforting pages of scripture, allow the Lord to slough off the rough parts of your soul, and massage His grace and peace that He freely gives to you, into your hearts and minds.  Prepare to put on the majestic colors of the gospel of peace and walk confidently, declaring the beauty of God’s love and the truth of His Word.

Blessings,

René

Isaiah 52 verse 7 - the feet of him

* https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6&version=NASB

** https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/matthew-henry/Eph.6.10-Eph.6.18