Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Coming Home to a Clean House…

If you’ve ever gone on vacation or even an overnight somewhere and you get to stay in a nice hotel…well, picture that…

You walk in to an immaculately clean room, a crisply made bed, towels that are perfectly placed in the bathroom, a desk that has been meticulously laid out with items you may need….awwww…so relaxing!  Oh, and even better than this is the fact that every day you are there, you can return to a room that is all cleaned up for you!!

{And after getting into our room, my husband will run the water in the bathroom sink as hot as it’ll go, soak one of the washcloths and walk around the room cleaning off the remote, the light switches, the door knobs, etc. because of watching one of those news programs on hotel germs. lol!}

But…There’s nothing like coming HOME after time away, to a clean house!

My husband and kids still think it’s kind of a silly thing…but I’m gonna keep doing it! What is “it”?  IT is the process of cleaning house before we go out of town. I mean, if it’s only gonna be a couple days or an overnight, I don’t go as far as I usually do, but still…that toilet better be clean and all the dishes are at least out of the sink into the dishwasher! {Can I get an Amen for the dishwasher!}

A few days prior to leaving, I do the big stuff…dust, vacuum, mop, and start the laundry.  The night before (or morning of…depending on how early we have to leave) I make everyone strip their beds and put clean sheets on {and of course, make their beds up before we leave!}, and I also switch out all the bath towels for new ones. Then when we come home from our trip, we can walk in to a clean house. We don’t have to waste time cleaning up before we unpack. And if we arrive home late at night, we can easily slip under the covers into fresh, clean sheets!

As I prepare for the leaving…I also prepare for the return.

Colossians 3:15-17 is a beautiful picture of the fact that we are God’s dwelling place…Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Every day we are here on this earth, we are preparing to do two things:

  1. We spend time with the Lord each day to prepare us for the day when we will finally meet Him face to face.
  2. We go out each day as a light to the world to show them Jesus.

In each aspect, we are preparing a clean house for the Lord to return to dwell in! Through salvation,  He is able to return to a relationship with us through His grace of reconciliation.

I mean, seriously, just read the first sentence in verse 15 above…”Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts…”

Yes please! I’ll take some inner calm every day of the week!!

When I clear out the cob webs of deceit, the dust of doubt, the piles of unbelief ~ there is room for the Holy Spirit to release His calm direction in my life.

When I take care of allowing the Lord to wash away my sins with His unlimited forgiveness, there is room for the fresh blanket of His grace to be wrapped around my heart.

When I take the time to cultivate the Word into my daily life, I will be a sweet aroma not only to Him but to those around me.

But here’s the most beautiful part…

The Lord dwells within us at the exact moment we receive Him as our Savior.

The. Exact. Moment.

He doesn’t wait for housekeeping to tidy things up and remake the bed before He knocks at the door of our heart. We have the astounding privilege of opening the door of our life to Him EVEN IN THE MESS!!

When we are in a season of sweet communion with the Lord, [think…clean house…clean heart…clean mind…} our relationship with Him is right on track and it is easier to follow where He leads. Because let’s face it, a clean house means you aren’t tripping over the bag that needs to go to the donation center (yeah, totally did that this morning!) or having our senses blown away when we pass the garbage can that needs to be emptied.

But even when ~ and sometimes especially when ~ we haven’t taken good care of the dwelling place of our own heart and mind, the Lord is still there. The Holy Spirit remains in the mess. His whisper is harder to hear amidst the junk, but He still speaks to us.

What will it look like today for you to “clean house” in your heart?

Imagine what the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit will look like when He has space to freely roam. Think about how much easier it will be to hear what the Lord is saying to you when He doesn’t have to compete with the noise of the unnecessary. Picture the garden of promises that you are resting on from His Living Word instead of rusty old broken dreams.

Clean your house.

Refresh your soul.

Buy the flowers.

Drink your tea wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Invite people in.

Ephesians 2:19-22 paints a lovely image of being a part of God’s house…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Oh my friend…did you catch that? We are members of God’s household! He wants a place in our life and invites us to have a place with Him. What a treasure!!!

Don’t wait another day.  If you have never asked the Lord into your life, He’s ready for you right now! If you need a refresher of the Holy Spirit because you have felt distant from the Lord, just turn around and open the door of your heart because He’s standing right there!!  Jesus will always be ready to come in ~ He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to stay!!

Be in fellowship with God and with each other…both aspects will fortify your life in every way imaginable!

Blessings,

René

Ephesians 2 verse 22

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Gossip is Murder…

Have you ever given this some thought? I certainly had not. Until a few months ago, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart (mid-gossip might I add),

“You are murdering that persons reputation with your words.”

Whoa! Right between the eyes with that one!!

Before I truly begin…I want to start out with a verse from scripture that Paul was writing to Timothy. Paul {used to be Saul, before his conversion} had treated Christians horribly. Believing he was acting in the best interest of the Law (before Christ’s death and resurrection) he was the chief proponent of brutally executing follower’s of Christ. So this is why he says in I Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful and trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptable and approval, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost.” Paul knew firsthand the grievances caused by his refusal to allow Christ to truly reign in his life.

So here we go…

Hi, my  name is René, and I’m tempted to gossip on a daily basis.

There it is…out in the open…

I don’t necessarily want to write this blog about gossip.

It’s been sitting in my “drafts” for several months now and I can’t keep scrolling past it. I can’t say that I’m no longer tempted to participate in gossip…I’m just becoming more and more sensitive to the pathways that lead to gossip.

I think it’s a worthwhile topic to delve into because, let’s face it, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are ALL tempted to gossip!

Just thinking of this makes me also think of two passages in Romans ~ 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. “ and 7:25 “Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.”

I immediately feel convicted in my heart by the Holy Spirit when I’ve gossiped. I don’t want to do it. I don’t mean to do it. But I fall into that quick trap way more than I want to admit. But this has taken time…I have lived too long where I ignored those promptings of the Holy Spirit that were telling me not to gossip, or even to listen to gossip. I was more concerned with people thinking I was trying to “act spiritual.” Oh brother!  What a fool I was!!

I mean, the world is right out there in the open with gossip…”hot Hollywood gossip”…”Gossip Girl”…TMZ…BuzzFeed…and well, every news outlet on the planet. In the Christian world it can be much more subtle…

If we are not careful, we can turn a meaningful prayer request into a conversation full of gossip.

The dictionary definition of gossip is this ~ 1. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: the            endless gossip about Hollywood stars. 2. light, familiar talk or writing. 3. Also, gossiper,   gossipera person given to tattling or idle talk.

Did you catch the part in #2 ~ even in writing we can be gossiping. Want to know why?

Because gossip comes out of our heart ~ it pours out through out mouth or through our fingertips.

Whether we talk about someone behind their back or via a text or email, it’s still gossip.

Now you may be wondering a bit more about the title of this article. How can gossip be murder?

Gossip is murder because you are annihilating someone’s character with as much impact as if you were to shoot them with a gun. The pain caused to someone’s life can sometimes be irreparable. I know, because malicious gossip spread about me when I was in high school (at church no less…spread around by the son of a pastor!!) pretty much ruined my character and cost my parents some of their friends.  Well, I guess if those couples were really friends of my parents, they would have stuck around to find out if the rumors were true or not. But hey, a 9th grade hormonal boy who happens to have a dad that is a pastor isn’t capable of lying…right???

{Disclaimer…I did forgive that boy and all the other people who believed – and continued to spread – the gossip many years later. Forgiveness is key people!!)

The Bible is VERY clear on God’s stance on gossip. 

Gossip is: malicious, untrustworthy, divisive, offensive, greedy, selfish, contentious, unrighteous, wicked, evil, arrogant, jealous, immoral, brutal, hates good, and it’s just plain mean!

The Lord tells us to steer clear of anything smelling (or tasting) like gossip!

It may feel good in the moment, but it’s forever a mark on our own character. It truly tells you more about the person gossiping than the person being gossiped about!

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I began to realize (yeah….I can be a slow learner sometimes) that when I was participating in gossip, where someone was speaking ill of another person in our circle of friends, that they could very easily be speaking ill of me to other people that I knew too.

I mean, that was totally one of those “Duh!” moments in my life but I really believed that it couldn’t happen to me. We women can be so petty with one another. So vindictive. We’re a better mom because we don’t let our kids eat sugar. We’re a better wife because we cook three meals a day seven days a week. We’re a better housekeeper because we know how to prioritize. Garbage! No one is that perfect! NO ONE!

Instead of climbing up on the precarious pedestal, looking down upon all the other women around us, we gotta get real, hop off that thing, link arms together and lift each other up!  Find out what our friends truly need and help them achieve their goals. No one has it all together and shame on us for making others feel like they are less-than because they do things differently.

You know that phrase “hurt people, Hurt people.” It’s so true! ALL gossip comes full circle {because IT ALWAYS DOES!!} and the pain that is caused is truly heartbreaking.

We have to stop being in competition with each other. We have to stop comparing ourselves with each other and for sure with every unrealistic image of “womanly perfection” that is drowning the lives of every woman every where!

Will you commit yourself, with me, to practice “Mouth Control”?

It’s hard at first, but if we are in this together, we can combat the temptations of gossip together!

We can gather together in true prayer for one another.

We can keep confidences where they belong.

We can shore up the reputations of one another in our circles of influence and direct conversation AWAY from gossip instead of a slippery slope down into the pit.

And before you get offended that a few of the verses I found here only seem to direct ‘not gossiping’ to women…let’s be real…we females are the worst offenders of gossip. If God didn’t think that we would be the ones tempted to gossip the most, He would have phrased things differently.

Not one of the words written down in scripture has been put there by mistake.

Whether we like it or not. They are all there for a purpose. And that purpose is to draw us closer to the Lord so that we look more like Him when we are walking around in this world, and less like the world.

Please be encouraged to read through the following scripture passages. Even if you have already read them, read them again…it’s worth the reminder!

Let us decide TODAY that we will be champions of one another, lifting each other up and not shooting them down with malicious gossip. Think and pray before you speak…for that is the best way to stop gossip from even coming out of your mouth in the first place.

Leviticus 19:16 “You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord.”

Psalm 41:6 “And when one comes to see me, he speaks empty words, While his heart gathers malicious gossip [against me]; When he goes away, he tells it [everywhere].”

Proverbs 11:13 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden.”

Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And one who gossips separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 17:9 “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten]; They go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon].”

Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with a gossip [who talks freely or flatters].”

Proverbs 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer [who gossips], contention quiets down.”

Romans 1:29 “until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors],”

2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you not to be as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder;”

1 Timothy 3:11 “Women must likewise be worthy of respect, not malicious gossips, but self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things.”

1 Timothy 5:13 “Now at the same time, they also learn to be idle as they go from house to house; and not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies [meddlers in things that do not concern them], talking about things they should not mention.”

2 Timothy 3:3 “[and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,”

Titus 2:3 “Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good,”

Blessings,

René

 

Proverbs 11 verse 13

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Active Patience….

These words just do not seem to go together…Actively patient? Patiently waiting? Eagerly awaiting?…

Active: engaged in action characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.;

Patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

So if we play the old teacher trick of learning how to use words properly and write a sentence using those words…so here’s mine ~

To be engaged with energetic participation while at the same time being willing to keep annoyance at a distance when faced with task of waiting. {rab}

Doesn’t that sound like fun? 🙂

Our brains just don’t seem to work that way to think that these words could actually be a complement one another. The season that our family has been in for the past several months has been one of excitement and sorrow, anticipation, joy, and sadness. As the day drew closer for her daughter’s wedding we were eagerly anticipating that special day and praying that God would be honored in that day. And He absolutely was! It is a surreal for sure to watch your baby get married and pledge her life to the man that you have been praying for years since she was a child. To see the reality of those prayers, those 24 years worth of prayers, come to fruition is joyfully humbling. To see how their lives have been shaped by a variety of events, how their paths crossed so many times, how they could’ve met on many different occasions…But God knew the exact moment that He wanted to bring them together and it was perfectly timed.

That is the kind of anticipation we all dream about and become giddy about when we see it coming true.

But what about the anticipation of knowing a loved one has the proverbial one foot in this earth and one foot at the threshold of heaven? When you know their heart is eagerly awaiting a moment of being Jesus and with those who have gone before them? How do we put that together in our mind? There is nothing you can do except to be patient while your loved one appears to be helplessly waiting for their time to come.

Twenty-five short days after the most joyful day of our year, watching our daughter as she got married, we watched my father-in-law and my grandmother called home to be with the Lord ~ within one day of each other. The sorrow that overcame me in those days was real, but just as real was the joy that they are whole and complete in the presence of the Lord…their Savior they both so dearly loved.

In the midst of all of that, my husband developed a terrible case of shingles on his face just a mere six days after the wedding. I’ve had my own issues with shoulder pain that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then we added some more joy (TRULY!  It’s fabulous!!) in the form of a new job opportunity for my husband and a very quick transition of our youngest daughter moving away to her dream college… finding ourselves in the proverbial beginning of being empty nester.

That whole empty nest part of life, well, I can tell you honestly it is not something that I have been eagerly awaiting. It is not something I have been longing for. Sure, there are days that I remember what our three girls were small children, and I would fantasize about having the house to myself…More importantly, having a clean house to myself. But I do not like the quiet. I do not like it at all. But this is where God is going to meet me and I suppose if I am being honest with myself, and with you as you read this maybe you find yourself in the same place, I am not necessarily eagerly awaiting to be alone or to be quiet with God.In so many ways it is nerve-racking to admit this. I have been a Christian for 40 years, I love the Lord and my heart is to serve Him, and besides that, are we supposed to admit these times when we are a little nervous or maybe even afraid to be alone with God?

I can say that I am nervous about what I will hear from the Lord.

What does He want from me in this new season of my life? What will he require from me in order to serve Him? Will it be hard? Are there decisions ahead of me that will be difficult to make? All of these things ramble around in my mind and I am grateful that the Lord is patiently awaiting my availability to be with Him. Oh sure, I will read devotionals, I will read inspirational books from fantastic authors, I will read the youversion Bible app verse of the day… but I know God is calling me to much, much more.

Psalm 37:7 {AMP} “Be still before the Lord; waitpatiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”

God is calling me to a place where I can be patiently waiting – actively patient – dare I say, eagerly awaiting even?

God wants me in a place every morning where I can honestly pray and tell the Lord, “Use me today however You want to, in the way that You need to, in order to bring You glory.” Even now it is really easy to write this because I have followed the Lord for so long, I know the right answers. I know the right things to say to make me sound as though I have my “Christian walk” all together. But until I put all of that knowledge to work, nothing that God has called me to do will be accomplished the way He intends.

I have researched hundreds of verses that talk about being patient, being eager, about waiting…And all of them point me to the same place.

I must seek him first. Always every day.I need to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when He whispers to me an idea, something to pray about, someone to pray for, even the thoughts that come to me for ideas about writing a blog post or writing a book. After seeing how God has created so many opportunities in my life for His glory to shine through because of how He has provided for me and for our family, it is a wonder even to me that I doubt the call that God has placed on my life.

Where do you find yourself today? Are you in the same place that I am right now? Are you wondering how someone can call themselves a “good Christian” and have these doubts that I have? {but please please remember that our salvation is NOT based on works…we are only saved through the grace and favor from the Lord Jesus Christ ~ John 14:6}. What part of the journey that you are on, the call that God has put on your life, where are you at with it?

Are you simply sitting back waiting for God to show up and do something or are you eagerly anticipating thoughts and ideas that have been whispered to your heart in a way that is filled with actions and excitement? The beginnings of a new year are always full of resolutions, new promises to ourselves and others, and a sense of renewed hope for the future. But the one common denominator in all of those things, for any of those things to happen in the way God intended, is for us to be active participantsin the adventure! If I want to see God working in my life I have to be in direct communication with Him so that I can recognize those moments when they come.

This reminds me of a conference I went to last year where I met with the main speaker afterwards. She spoke a word over my life and shared an image that God gave her for me. She said, “I see you in a hot air balloon and God is asking you to become completely untethered. Let go of all those things that are keeping you safely on the ground. Trust Him to take you to height that you have never imagined…but God is asking you to cut the ropes.”

That word absolutely excited and terrified me at the same time! As you can well imagine I’m sure. I believe that there are several of those rope tethers that I have cut loose. But even now as I write this blog, God is showing me a picture of that hot air balloon still halfway tethered to the posts on the ground. It is off balance and the fire that is needed to lift the hot air balloon properly off the ground cannot be fully realize because if it is, it will simply burn a hole through the side of the balloon, and I will not be able to take off.

All of the ropes need to be untethered so that I can fully let the Holy Spirit’s fire burst forth in my life. I have to trust that that fire will not burn me…It will only shine a light and bring glory to the Lord as He leads me to the places He intends for me to be. When I sat down to write today, actually I am voice texting all of this into my Notes app on my phone while I drive home from Orange County. Honestly, sometimes the only time I feel that I have to myself, even though I am now an empty nester, is when I am driving in my car somewhere. Especially in Southern California there is a lot of traffic to sit through so it works out pretty good.

That aside, when I was beginning to say is that I had no intention of going so deep but this is what happens when I let go of my intentions, my agenda, my expectations, and let Jesus truly take control.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope.”

My goal and prayer is that these words will cause a fresh wave of God’s peace to wash over you. Maybe that wave needs to knock you over like it does for me today, but He will not let you be overwhelmed. Have you ever done one of the “trust falls” ~ that’s what it’s like trusting the Lord a lot of time…lean back and trust that He will catch you when you lean back and/or pick you up when you fall.

My prayer is that you hear God’s voice in your own life, right now, telling you what your next step needs to be, what rope you need to cut and become unattached from. And of course, the verses that I am sharing with you today, I pray that you will find rest and solace in the truth of God’s Word. Don’t just take my word for it, go to His Word and dig deeper so that you have the awesome experience to encounter with what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell you for so long.

Today is that day that you can start again……Where you can embrace the opportunity to patiently yet at the same time eagerly, a wait and see what God has for you!

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Women's Ministries, Writers

Your View: Windshield or Rear-View…

Are You Looking Out the Windshield or the Rear-View Mirror?

I got the idea for this discussion topic from a sermon I heard the other day on the radio.There’s a reason why the windshield on a car is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small.

We need to have a wide view of what is out in front of us so that we can see where we are going. The point of driving somewhere is to move forward to get where we intend to end up. We don’t drive backwards to get to our destination. Right?

I know these concepts are not mind-blowing or something new…but I think it’s a good reminder every now and then to take notice of where our attention lies.

Rear-view mirrors, and side-view mirrors for that matter, aren’t bad though…they are completely necessary.

When we look up to check the rear-view or side-view mirrors, that’s just it…it’s just to take a quick look to make sure we are not in danger of being in an accident or causing an accident as we move about the road. We are not to allow our focus to linger because if we do, we are bound to run into the car in front of us.

Our past is like those smaller mirrors.

There’s a warning bell that sounds in your heart or your head, when you’re about to veer off course.  It’s the alarm that alerts us to check ourselves. Are we about to make the same mistake for the millionth time? Are we about to say the wrong thing to someone…again…knowing it won’t work? Did we forget what happened the last time? And if the mirror checks don’t work, then when we drive over those little bumpy-things (I’m sure they gave a name!) that’s a physical AND audible alert that we need to correct our path or we’ll soon be in trouble!

When we look into the side mirror, we can see that car speeding up really fast to our left and make that quick decision to WAIT to move over.

When we look into our rear-view mirror, we can see that car speeding up behind us or flashing their lights at us, and decide we need to move over and let that person go on their merry way albeit too fast and not get involved in their crazy. We can also see the red lights of a fire truck or police car, alerting us to move over because there’s trohbke ahead!

So how does that this translate into our spiritual life?

What side glances get you off track?

What kinds of things do you think you should be focusing on in your “front windshield”?

Let’s look at some scripture that talks about looking forward or behind.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (AMP) “Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.”

 Right there in scripture ~ “…look directly ahead…”  When we direct our gaze straight ahead, like through a large windshield, we will see the path that clearly leads to integrity!

Hebrews 11: 23-29 (AMP) “By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”

 I love that these verses in Hebrews remind us that it is not simply looking ahead & fixing our gaze on the Lord; it is through FAITH that we can accomplish this daily task.

 We are also instructed in God’s Word to take His direction for our life very seriously. When He tells us not to look behind us {dwelling on past sin; obsessing over something you think you’ve missed out on; staying stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness; etc.} then He means it!! 

Genesis 19:26 (AMP) “But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.”

God also shows us through scripture how He provides the way out of a situation. One that is getting a bit frightening or unsettling. In Genesis 22:13 (AMP) we see just that…“Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.”

 Let go of the past and start moving forward! Maybe it’s an actual physical move out of the environment you’re in (work, neighborhood, state…). Maybe it’s a shift in your heart ~ an attitude you’re having is causing disruption in your spiritual life. 

Luke 9:61-62 (AMP) “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Don’t linger on looking into the smaller windows. Look through the bigger lens of God’s Word…through His windshield!

Blessings,

René

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

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.

romans-5-verses-1-5

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!

psalms-136-verses-1-and-26

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

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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

genesis-17-verse-2

* (HCSB) ~ Holman Christian Study Bible version *

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Church is not the Feast…

What words come to mind at the mention of “Feast”? Choice foods…Best quality…delectable treats…luscious desserts…more than enough…fully satisfied…special occasion…invitation only…

It’s quite the ‘christianese’ phrase, and we hear it all the time…”I go to church to be fed.”  But is that really the place we are supposed to be fed?  Is this the location we go to feast?

I’ve recently been contemplating this idea of what is the true purpose of gathering together on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night…you know what I mean)?  Are we to be gathering together on one particular day because that is the only time we are being fed?  A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting statement and I have not been able to get it out of my head.

“Church is the menu.  Church can be an appetizer.  But, Church is not the Feast.”

There are over 1500 mentions of the word ‘feast’ (or phrases that indicate a feast) in the Bible.  Most of these references are talking about all of the amazing Feasts that God set in place in the Old Testament.  These were specific opportunities for the Israelite’s to stop what they were doing in their every day life and create space to worship and honor the Almighty God.

There are seven annual sacred Feasts of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the “Feasts of Remembrance.”  These 7 Feasts are: Passover (Signified the Redemption of Israel); Feast of Unleavened Bread (Signified the Sanctification of the Israel); Feast of the Firstfruits (Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people); Feast of Weeks (Pentecost: Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh); Feast of Trumpets (Signified the calling Israel to judgment); Feast of Atonement (Signified the Atonement of the Covenant people); and the Feast of the Tabernacles (Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah).*

All of these feasts were filled with celebration (AND lots of eating) of what God had done for the people. How He had freed them from Egyptian slavery, how He had given them a new land, how He saved the people from the Angel of Death, and simply how He had provided for them year after year, generation after generation.  But they were also filled with times of offering sacrifices to God through the Priests.  This is, of course, a very very brief overview on the Feasts of the Old Testament.  But my point is this ~ these feasts were special times set aside to do one thing and one thing only…to worship and honor God.  This is the same kind of attitude I believe we need to have today, and I don’t think it only happens on Sunday.

The word feast can be a noun or a verb.  As a noun, we see that it means: “any rich or sumptuous meal; something highly agreeable; a periodical celebration or time of celebration.” As a verb, it means: “to have or partake of a feast; to east sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight.”  I love that last part of the definition!

To feast with the Lord is to dwell in the presence of your Host with a grateful attitude, delighting to be at the table and enjoying the richness of the sumptuous bounty He has to offer us! (R.A.B.)

I’m not saying here that you cannot be fed by the Word while you are at church.  This is what the speaker that I referenced earlier meant as well.  We need to go church and worship with the community of believers for several reasons.  First and foremost, God calls us to be together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us how important this is. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is incredibly vital to the life of every Christian to be in fellowship with other people who worship the Lord.  Most often this happens when we attend church services together.  Collectively praising God in song with a congregation is a visceral experience.  Being in the presence of like-minded people whose goal is to honor the Lord joyfully in song is a beautiful thing.  Guess what though?  The singing part of the church service isn’t the only “worship” part of church.  The ENTIRE service is WORSHIP!

A friend of mine recently had a funny experience, well, maybe odd is a better description.  She was about to go into the church service which was already in progress.  The singing portion was in full swing.  There was a woman already in the foyer area and said to her, “Oh, I’m not going in yet.  I’m waiting until all the worship singing is done.  There is so much of it.” (I’m paraphrasing here…but that was the gist.)  My friend looked at her in disbelief for several reasons: 1) her husband is the worship Pastor, 2) this woman’s husband played with the worship team band, and 3) this woman is involved with the choir ministry!  So my friend smiled at her and before going into the sanctuary said, “Well, the whole service is a worship service!”  She said that the woman looked horrified.

I share this story because it is a perfect example of the “menu/appetizer” mentality of so many church-goers.  They pick and choose what parts they want to be a part of.

They want to sing, but only if it’s from the traditional hymnal.

They won’t sit in worship to sing unless they are singing contemporary songs that you can hear on the radio.

If the ‘wrong’ songs are played, or if the message preached that morning doesn’t agree with them, they feel justified in withholding their tithe check that week. {Sadly, I know this one first hand as I worked as the Admin to a previous pastor and read some of the most disheartening letters to the pastor after a “failed” sunday morning.}

Not to focus on the negative…here’s some thoughts on the positive side of the church being the ‘menu’ or ‘appetizer’ ~ through the worship songs and the sermon that is delivered to the congregation, we are given delightful morsels from the Word of God.  We are given a taste of the goodness and greatness of our God.  We are able to sample a portion of what the Lord has to offer us in His Word.

Your church pastor has been given an amazing job, in that the Lord has given them the ability and opportunity to share with others all the wealth of the Feast that IS God’s Word. The pastor is not supposed to be the only person you learn from.  The church is not supposed to be the only location from which you learn in.  The pastor and the church experience each week are supposed to be the jumping off point…the place of fellowship where we can be recharged in order to go out through the rest of the week, encouraged to delight in personal time with the Lord and His Scripture.

This is where the Feasting comes in...

Personal times of worship in prayer and in song to the Lord are just as vital (if not more so!) ~ this is why I feel this is the real feast!  When we are in a quiet place, spending time in His Word and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lavish spiritual nourishment to our soul.  When we spend time with the Lord, we are making a statement…that we want to be more in tune with the Lord and all He has for us.  Sometimes those prayer experiences have us saying nothing at all but declaring the holy Name of Jesus.  More often than not, when I have prayed a verse or passage out loud, or sang a Psalm to Him, or just sat quietly asking the Lord to speak to my heart ~ those are the times that I have felt the closest to Him.  Of course He wants to hear from us:  what our hearts are desirous of, what we are hurting from, who or what we are having a difficult time with. But if we are always the one talking…we are unable to listen to what God is wanting to whisper to our heart.

This my friends is the Feast.

To be made aware of the voice of God and how He speaks into our lives.

exodus-12-verse-14

All those feasts that the Israelite’s of the Old Testament were called to observe were due in part to the fact that the Savior had not come to earth yet.  There was a strict process in the preparation and the enjoyment of each Feast and why/when they were observed.  But with the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we were given in Him the true Feast.  He is the Word in flesh. (John 1:14)  He is the reason we celebrate our salvation. Through Him we gain the abundant knowledge we need in order to walk through this life.  We are given the Fruit of the Holy Spirit with which to feast on.  But this can only happen when we spend time with Him and in scripture.  And the best part…we can come to Him every moment of every day!  We don’t have to wait for a special decree to enter the throne room of God and worship at His feet! What a beautiful gift and privilege!  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y!!!

The time of feasting in the presence of the Lord is not meant to only happen a few times a year.  It is not even meant to simply happen on Sunday mornings. It is not something on our schedule to check off.

Feasting is to be a daily experience.  All throughout the day we are to be feasting in His presence.  To be so close to the Lord of Hosts, that we can smell the aroma of His love.  To be so close that we can feel the brush of His hands on ours, as He directs our path. To be so close that we can recognize His voice as He calls us to dwell with Him.

Come to Him and enjoy the Feast!

Blessings,

René

 

* http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts

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Hearing the Shepherd’s Voice…

I recently had the joyful privilege of traveling with my wonderful husband on two business trips back to back…first stop, Singapore!  Then on to Snells Beach, New Zealand (about 90 minutes north of Auckland).  It was absolutely amazing to be able to travel to these two locations.  And they couldn’t have been more different!  We actually took advantage of being able to check two bags for free ~ one was packed for the 90 degree humid weather of Singapore and the other for the 60 degree rainy weather of NZ!  I was so grateful for the two companies that made the allowance for me to attend these trips with my man!

What I want to focus on in today’s blog is the lesson the Lord taught me in New Zealand.

I don’t know about you, but honestly, the first thing I think about when I envision the land of NZ is…wait for it…The Lord of the Rings & Hobbit movies!  Yes!  I admit that I love these movies!  And Air New Zealand loves these movies too ~ they have a channel within their onboard “movie channel” dedicated to just those six movies ~ awesome!  Of course, the other thing I think of is sheep….lots and lots of sheep!

Staying in Snells Beach was a blessed retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  And honestly…away from the hustle of “regular life.” Rolling green hills, the bay on either side of the little town.  To one side you could see the Mahurangi Harbour and on the other, Kawau Bay.  I felt a little bad that Tony was working more on this part of the trip, but I was delighted with the gift of some time alone to see what the Lord has for me next.

We arrived quite late in the evening, so it was very dark upon our arrival to our little apartment on the campus where the animation studio is where Tony would be working for the next few days.  The next morning, he was off to work after breakfast in our room and I joined him a few hours later for lunch at the studio.  He happened to be walking over to the apartment when I was on my way over to meet him, and I couldn’t help but grin and say, “I’m walking around in New Zealand today!  How cool is that!!”

But soon, I would be driving around the area ~ and on the “wrong side” of the road and the car!  If I may brag…I did quite well!  And it was so much fun!  But I digress to my point….

The sheep!  Seriously ~ they were everywhere!  And I loved it!  So many different breeds and color combinations, but still the same.  Either lounging in the sunny spots in the pasture, or head down munching on the luscious green grass of the farms where they lived.  And I desperately wanted to cuddle one of those little lambs ~ you see it’s Spring time over in NZ (September) so there were little lambs prancing around all over the place!

One of the men that Tony is working with on this project, also runs a small farm filled with cows, a bull, pigs, piglets, and SHEEP!  He indulged my wish and ran after a little lamb so I could hold him.  Oh.My.Word!  The cutest thing ever!  And he was only about 10 days old.  The eyes of his sheep-mama and the eyes of the ram were on me constantly…what was I going to do with their little lamb?  Oh man…I wanted to take that cute black and white lamb home with me!  I know…I know…not practical!  And they grow up!  HA!

The next day, a new friend there, took me to a magical place…Sheep World!  Yes…this is a real place!  I was able to help sheer a sheep and feed a milk bottle to a one month old fluffy whjohn-10-verse-4ite lamb.  This was seriousness cuteness folks!

But the whole time, I could not get out of my mind the fact that Jesus is referred to so many times as the Lamb of God.  And we, as His followers, are often called His sheep. (yes…I took this pic…there’s more!)

In this passage, we read that sheep follow their shepherd because they recognize his voice.  But how do they know which voice to follow?  They are trained and they learn what to listen for.  A tone of voice…a familiar call or command…a unique whistle ~ they know their shepherd’s voice!

We are called to do the same with our relationship with Jesus!psalm-95-verse-7

But we have to spend time with the Lord in order to KNOW His voice and to discern His commands and callings.

Do you see what it says here in the last part of Psalms 95 verse 7?  “If only you would listen…”

If only we would take the time to listen to the voice of our Savior.  To spend time deep in His Word so that we recognize His voice.

 We spend so much time on so many other things that we think we fill us up.  Yet, I know that when my focus is on expecting outward things to complete me, I end up feeling totally empty.  Christ is the only One who is able to fill up all the empty spaces and seal up all the cracks in my heart.

There were a few other key moments of those two “sheep days,” that God revealed to me.

As I was holding the little lamb that was almost 2 weeks old, was noticing how the huge horned ram was standing at attention in the field.  He did not allow his gaze to be interrupted.  I felt in that moment that this is how God the Father intently looked upon Jesus the Son, as He entered the world as a defenseless baby ~ as the Lamb of God.  The Father’s eyes are never off His children.

When we let the little lamb go and put him down onto the grass, he bleated his little heart out!  All the other mama sheep out there started bleating back…with the exception of his actual mama.  That was confounding to me!  What was happening here.  Then I looked back at the lamb and he was pacing back and forth, unwilling to step further.  He just stood there and bleated like crazy.  In that moment, I felt God showing me that when I stand in one place and act like a crazy person yelling out to God, without actually focusing on Him peacefully, even if He was calling out to me I wouldn’t be able to truly hear Him.  Once the lamb stopped calling out for his mama, started scampering toward the herd, all the other sheep began to quiet down.  His mama never took her eyes off her baby, and she began to baa for her little lamb. He immediately heard her voice ~ and ran straight to her.

That little lamb took the time to HEAR the voice of his mother so he could easily identify where to run!

The last moment to share was how the sheerer/shepherd (at Sheep World) was telling us how the sheep get from the hidden tops of the hills down to the corral.  With just a few verbal commands, he sends one of his trusty sheep dogs out to round them up.  That dog took off, jumped the corral fence, tore up the hill and began bringing those sheep down the hill in about 2 minutes.  This dog never barked…he only LOOKED at the sheep to get them where he wanted them to go.  And his goal was to bring the sheep as close to the shepherd as possible.

Now, this may be a stretch, but hang in there with me for a minute.

Jesus is referred to as our Shepherd* mulitple times in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is referred to as our Helper**/Comforter*** in God’s Word.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t bark at us ~ He uses the truths of who our Shepherd, Jesus, is and whispers those truths to our hearts.  His goal is to bring us back around as close to Jesus as possible.  Once we are close to our Shepherd, we can be cared for as needed.  We may need to be sheered ~ ridding our self of the excess in our life.  We may need to be fed ~ filling up our soul with the Bread of Life.  We may need to be washed ~ being cleansed from the filth of sin that creeps in.

Take the time my friend to get to know His voice.

Listen and run to Him.

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you back to Jesus.

Blessings,

René

p.s. ~ Just because I love the joyful freedom of the picture…here’s one more from the trip!

rene-holding-a-little-lamb

* mentioned 34 times in the ESV: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=shepherd+Lord&qs_version=ESV

** John 14:26 (ESV)

*** John 14:26 (ASV)

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The Rooms in Our Heart….

The other night I had an incredible vivid dream.  Now, this wasn’t surprising to me, because I’ve always dreamed like I’m in a movie.  Even before meeting my husband (who works in the entertainment industry) I dreamed in color, mostly in sequence, always wearing fabulous outfits, and if the dream didn’t end like I wanted it to…I’d make myself go back and finish it right!

Back to last weeks’ dream…

I was living on a beautiful piece of land, in an incredible two story home, and was surrounded by friends and family.  I determined that we were having some sort of party as there were loads of food & drinks, great decorations, and fabulous music playing.  I decided that our family must have recently moved into this new home and that we were having a “welcome to our new house” party.

Again, this did not surprise me as every time we have moved (14 in all in the past 26 years!) I have always ended up scheduling some kind of party within a month or so of moving in.  It’s something that drives my wonderful husband crazy, but he knows the method to my madness and loves me anyway!  What better way to get everything unpacked, put away, with artwork & photos hung up on the walls?  Have a party!!

So, the dream…..

Well, this home was amazing!  It was everything I’d ever wanted or dreamed of!  The party was in full swing and I was apparently taking guests on a tour through the house.  Each room was decorated perfectly and exactly how I wanted it to be.  Because we wanted to make sure this house was really “party ready” we decided to give ourselves about 6 months to get everything done.  This was finally going to be “the house” that we lived in forever!

After touring our guests through the house, I was leading them back out to the party outside to our park-like backyard.  But someone stopped me and said, “Wait….you didn’t show us what was in some of the rooms upstairs?”  I turned to them and told them I had shown them everything.  I mean, how could I live in a house for 6 months and not already know every inch of the place?

The guests insisted that I’d skipped several rooms, so off we went back upstairs so they could point out what rooms I’d missed.  I thought it was pretty funny and wondered how they could have been mistaken.

However, I’m the one who was mistaken!

The first door we opened was decorated all in shades of white (yes…there are many many shades of white!) and it simply sparkled with loads of silvery decor!  It had a gorgeous king size bed with a ton of pillows and of course was very frilly!  I could hardly believe my eyes as I took it all in.  How could I have missed this room?  I didn’t decorate it ~ how could I have when I didn’t know it had been there.  There was a lovely sitting area off to the left and there were several open windows, with the breeze flowing in and fluttering the curtains.  The incredible crystal chandelier radiated light everywhere and gave the room a lovely feel to it.  All I wanted to do was curl up on that bed and read to my heart’s content!  Just as I was truly absorbing all the beauty contained in this one room, someone else grabbed my hand and said, “This room is great, but I want you to tell me about this room.”, and they led me to another room across the hall.

I stood in front of ornately carved double doors and just started laughing.  I couldn’t help it because I knew I was about to open a door to another room that I had had no clue had been there.  But how?  We had meticulously decorated the whole house and the entire outside area for the past 6 months.  How had we missed entire rooms?

Well, I opened the double doors and discovered an incredible peaceful room.  It was done in various shades of green…not icky green or bright greens…delightful hues that begged you to walk in and make yourself comfortable.  There were deep couches and huge ottomans with trays on them filled with teapots and goodies.  There were mirrors, large windows, gauzy curtains, and the most luxurious cream colored blankets strewn across the  couches & a decadent chaise lounge in one corner.

This was getting wild!  I could hardly take it all in!  I asked my husband if he had surprised me with these rooms and he didn’t seem to be.  He just stood there smiling!  How was this possible?  I had never seen these rooms but I was completely thrilled with them!

Oh, one interesting fact of the dream was that each of the two rooms that I’ve described above, was that when I opened the doors it was as if the decor of the room was a little fuzzy.  It was then I realized that there were enormous sheets covering everything.  You know, like you see in the movies when someone has moved out of a house for a season and they cover everything up so the dust doesn’t settle into the furniture?  It was like that, and as soon as I removed the sheets, these spectacular rooms just lit up!

But there was one last room.   As I put my hand on the door knob, I just knew that this room was going to be my office.  A place where I could go to escape the noise of life and write, read, and study.  I just knew that it was going to be even better than the other two rooms.  In my excitement and anticipation, I threw the door wide open and was absolutely flabbergasted at what I saw.

It. Was. Horrible!

It was the “catch all” room of the house.  Old ratty furniture, empty bookcases, terribly dated carpet, and wallpaper that was peeling off.  The lighting was dim and the painted ceiling was dingy.  There were bags full of stuff to give away and old clothes hanging in the closet…that had lost its door at some point.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the heavy mismatched curtains that were covering up all the windows!  I was so sad and disappointed.  I figured that this last “surprise” room would be the best one…one made just for me!  I remember feeling heartbroken in my dream.  Then I began to feel upset and confused.  Why would this room be so awful and unattended to.

UGH!  I even tried going back through the rooms (in my dream) to see if I found something different, and each time it was the same.  I awoke in the morning feeling a bit discontented.

A few hours later, I texted my daughter who lives in another state, and asked her what she thought of this dream.  She has studied biblical dream interpretation a bit and gave me some basics to start with.  I’ve also looked up a few online references for biblical interpretation, and it’s all pretty revealing!  So often God uses dreams to show us who He is or what He is calling us to do.

When you dream of ‘rooms’ this is God’s way of telling you that there are parts of your heart that are possibly not fully open to Him; or maybe areas of your life that God is wanting you to enter into but haven’t opened the door.  Rooms can also symbolize ~ intimacy; rest; privacy; peace; or covenant.  Oh, and a house represents a person, family; ministry; or church…and a two story house reveals a double anointing!  Windows was another big part of each of the rooms in my dream as well and they allude to ~ vision; letting light in, spiritual sight, and opportunity.

As for the colors, here are what the colors (in the beautiful rooms) mean: White ~ righteousness, holiness; Silver ~ redemption, grace ; and Green ~ growth, prosperity, conscious.

In the unfinished room, since it felt very negative in there when I entered, these colors are represented this way: Brown ~ compromise, humanism; Yellows ~ fear, cowards, intellectual pride; and Gray ~ weakness.

So as I have laid all this out and studied it this past week, I realize with great humility what God is trying to teach me.  Oh, and I never actually saw my husband in my dream or even the faces of the guests at the party.  But I was comfortable with all of them.  Sometimes in your dream a reference to “husband” can be a representation of God; as He is the ultimate head of household in our life.

Through this incredible adventure of a dream, I believe that God was showing me that what I think has been veiled is really ready and waiting for me to discover and it is perfect!  It is perfect because HE is the one who put it all together. I won’t have to do a thing except enjoy the blessings that He has for me.  The Lord has a life ahead of me full of growth, grace and a desire to live my life rightly before Him.  As exciting as those two rooms were for me to explore, “my room” that I opened had to be explored as well.

Through that ugly room, I believe God is showing me that there are parts of my life that are full of compromise, weakness, and fear.  And I know exactly what He’s talking about.  I know exactly what areas He is showing me.  And although I was feeling judged and discouraged, the Lord reminded me that my dream really did have a happy ending.  The last time I had “gone back” to that room in my dream, I remember turning and asking the guests who had been standing in the hallway (probably afraid to enter!) to come in and help me.  As these helpers came in, I remember feeling more encouraged and determined to make this room as special and inviting as the other rooms were.  With their help, I began to see the possibilities of what this room could look and feel like.  I began to get a picture of what could be accomplished in this room ~ but I couldn’t do it on my own.  It was a difficult yet soothing realization.

I believe that God has a double blessing of some kind for me and that He wants to shower me in the light of His love.  He wants me to turn to my ‘helpers’, which I believe represents the Holy Spirit, to show me what path to take to “get my room in order.”  God is revealing so much to me even now as I write this and it is almost too much for my heart to take!

Through all that I’ve learned, I hope that you can take something away today to apply to your own life.

Be encouraged to look at the rooms of your heart and see what God wants you to do with them.  Are there rooms that He has readied for you that you just haven’t discovered yet?  Are there rooms that you blindly walked past without noticing there was a door to be opened?  Is there a room that is in desperate need of your attention ~ one that you have kept locked up for so long you don’t know where to start with the clean up?  And the beauty of it all, we don’t have to clean up alone.

We are called into fellowship with each other, and with the Lord God!

Hebrews 10:19-25 says, Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 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.”

My prayer for you today ~ build your house on the foundation of God’s Truth; keep all the doors open to His love, direction, and correction; and open the windows to feel the warmth of His grace flow over your life!

Blessings,

René

1 Kings 8 verse 61

 

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

Shattering the Darkness…

This past week, there has been so much tragedy in the news.  Which, honestly, that’s why I don’t watch the news.  I used to watch the morning and evening news every day, but it became overwhelming for me.  All the bad news just lingered in my brain and brought on unrealistic fears and anxieties.  I know that the Lord is my protector and that I can turn my worry over to Him, but I was spending so much time allowing the darkness of this world to permeate my mind, it was becoming a real problem for me.

I mean really, what are the odds that the convict on the run from a prison (that was is an eight hour drive from my home) would actually be hiding in my backyard?  Or the ring of burgler’s, two hours away from our neighborhood, were going to arrive in the middle of the night choosing us as the next targets?  And the list went on and on.  It’s probably been a good seven years since I’ve watched the evening news, and that has made a huge difference.

But some stories, it doesn’t matter where you turn, you will hear of great tragedy.  You will see desperately sad stories unfold before your eyes.  You will see unexplainable sorrow in the wake of vicious attacks.  It can very quickly seem all together too much to take in.

There is still ~ HOPE~

The darkness will never completely take over the light. 

Have you ever walked into your house late at night and quickly realized that you forgot to leave a light on?  I hate that….totally freaks me out!  But in that moment that you turn on the hall light, or the “flashlight app” on you iPhone, the darkness is pierced and the fears of the unknown vanish. Why?  Because you can see what’s in front of you; everything becomes clear.

Just look at how the Old Testament starts out in Genesis 1:1-5, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

God created the light of this world and we have the Light to this world, Jesus Christ His Son, to pierce the darkness that begs to permeate our lives.  We have the victory over darkness my friends!

John 1:4-5 is a proclamation of a wonderful promise from the Lord for us ~ In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Another promise of victory over the darkness of this world from Jesus is found in the latter chapters in the book of John.  These are His words as He speaks to the disciples before He was crucified.  He was preparing the disciples and had spent time instructing them with the knowledge of God the Father.  I used the Amplified Bible Version below, because I love how striking the verbiage is here.  Jesus gave the disciples, and us today, a cautionary warning of what we WILL indeed face in this world; followed up by a magnificent promise to remind us that we do not need to cower in the face of the trials.  Jesus does not state that His victory might happen or that it could possibly take place….it HAS been accomplished!

John 16:32-33 (AMP) “Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have[perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”

Jesus wanted them to have everything they needed ~ “And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:7).  And He wants US TODAY to have this same peace.  But that cannot come to us on our own.  It is HIS peace that He gives to us ~ all we have to do is ask for it.

Here in John 14:26-28, we find that promise from Jesus as to where we will find peace ~ But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

My friend, be encouraged that you are not just dangling out in space.  You have not been left alone.  You have a grand purpose and calling on your life.  You have been given identity from the King of Kings.  The Creator of the Universe wants to be in relationship with you because you are precious to Him.

The Lord can erase fear and anxiety from your heart and mind because His love is perfect and perfect love drives out fear (I John 4:18).  Sometimes this looks like a period of time in devoted prayer for issues that are surfacing in your life, or simply from a horrible tragedy that is going on in the world.  However, there are times when we need to call out to another person to help us bring those fears and anxieties to the surface and get them out of our life.  There is nothing wrong (or non-Christian) about seeing a counselor.  My only personal recommendation would be to make sure that you see a counselor whose guidance comes from a place of clarity in scripture, so that you are not led astray.

This world is run by the prince of darkness and the Lord warns us about this.  It is this way because of the Fall of Man when sin entered the earth.  This is NOT what the Lord intended! BUT Satan (prince of darkness) has not won; he has not ever nor will he ever, overcome the Son of God. {John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11}

Do not be distressed my friend when fears arise ~ because as I have shared in the many verses above, Jesus Christ has already won the mighty victory!  We win in the end!  We were not created to live in state of fear, but in a place of victory and freedom from eternal death through the resurrection of Jesus!!!

From the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6-7 blesses us with this promise of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth,

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Be strong today. Have courage for tomorrow.  Settle into peace during trials.  Trust that you belong to the mighty King.  Believe in the Prince of Peace who came to bring you Hope!

Blessings,

René

John 1 verses 4 and 5