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

When “Hovering” is a Good Thing

In the past couple of days, SoCal has entered what we all hope is finally the beginning of Autumn.  Yes, I know it’s towards the end of October…we’re getting there.  One thing I love seeing is the return of the fog.  We live near some mountains and it’s such a majestic site to go out in the early morning to see fog hovering over tops of the mountains.  The high temperature of the day only gets to about 72-75 degrees, the air conditioning never comes on, and my favorite part…opening the windows and feeling the cool breeze.  At night, the misty fog returns to rest upon the crest of the mountains and lend a sense of closure and protection to our little city below.

But there have been times in my life when fog has not been beautiful or majestic at all ~ it’s been downright frightening!  I have driven in the famous Sacramento “Tule Fog” in the middle of February, on an unfamiliar road, not knowing that it was not a good idea to drive in fog with your high beams on.  Um, yeah…scary!  I was on this road for about 2 hours, going 15 miles an hour, 8 weeks pregnant and had to use the facilities in the worst way.  Let’s just say, I made it to my friends house just in time, but absolutely stressed out vowing to never drive in those conditions again.  Well, in those conditions alone again.

One of the most visual images about the Holy Spirit, at least when I think about Him in this way, is what is described in Genesis 1:1-2:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

To hover is to “to keep lingering about; wait near at hand.”1  Can you picture this?  The Holy Spirit’s job at this point in Creation was to wait near and linger over the heavenly waters as God the Father began to create “the heavens and the earth.”  He was not separate from the creation story ~ the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and has a very important job.  

Although as we read further in Genesis chapter 1, we see that in order to make the earth and heaven, He had to separate the waters to those “that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.” (vs. 7b). But wait…when you separate something, it means that there are usually two halves still remaining.  In verse 6 of chapter 1, it tells us, “And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”” That expanse we know as the sky (or atmosphere).  There are heavenly waters that still exist as well as the waters on earth that we know as the sea.  Personally, I have always loved going to the ocean because it just feels like God to me.  The expanse of the sea, the depth of the oceans, the peacefulness of the crashing waves, and the coolness of the water ~ that all reminds me of the profound power and grace that encompasses who God is.

Depending on the commentary you read, the Holy Spirit is known by at least 35 different names in the Bible.2  Most notably, the Holy Spirit is known as our Helper, our Counselor, our Comforter (see John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7; Isaiah 11:2).  After Jesus was resurrected and spent time back on earth with the disciples, He appeared before them one last time before He ascended to Heaven, (see John 16). He gave them ~ and all of us who believe in Him ~ the immensely personal gift of the Holy Spirit to be our: Counselor, Advocate, Helper, Friend, Comforter. The role that the Holy Spirit has is to guide us in our thoughts and actions, and to be a intercessor between us and the Father.  He is with us and with the Father ~ the Holy Spirit is hovering between the two, never leaving one or the other.

Today, let me encourage you to settle in and allow the Holy Spirit to hover over you.  Hear Him speak words and promises of joy, comfort, and even correction to your soul and seek the Lord as you move forward in your relationship with Him.  Don’t miss out on the beautiful way the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, will hover over your life, bringing you great comfort and peace.

Blessings,

René

Genesis 1 verse 1-2

  1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hover?s=t
  2. http://www.compellingtruth.org/names-Holy-Spirit.html

 

 

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

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

Peace Out

It’s been one of those days and I’m finally sitting down to write ~ I’m taking a “peace out” ~ which I should do far more often!  What does this mean?  That moment when you are about to either explode or implode, but you thankfully catch yourself and basically take a time-out.  You’ve either given a time-out, or been given one, either way the purpose is to redirect the actions and attitudes that are leading you down a negative path towards a more healthy alternative.  So how do you give yourself a Peace-Out?

There’s only ONE way to accomplish this….

You have to go to the Lord in prayer!

We cannot ever (yes…ever!) get enough peace on our own that will be able to tackle an attitude change, or a life change, and make it stick.  I know I have fallen prey to my own designs of making everything perfectly line up to make sure that my life goes exactly how I want it to.  “How’s that workin’ for ya?” you ask ~ it doesn’t!  There have been so many twists and turns in my life, if it wasn’t for the grace and mercy of my precious Savior, I’d be in a sad state for sure!

It is most assuredly not an easy task to pray when you are in the midst of a chaotic, stressful, maddening experience.  Praying is sometimes the last thing you are thinking about.  Asking God to give you peace and patience is not always the first request ~ not to punch someone in the nose is probably more accurate of what is crossing your mind in those moments. When I was a young mom, I used to pray for patience with my little one…all.the.time!  Until one day, a more seasoned mom said to me, “Honey, you’re going to need patience all the time as a mom.  If you keep praying for patience, God is going to keep giving you opportunities to learn how to have it.  How about just pray that you’ll remember to pray.”  Wiser words folks…wiser words!

The best part of praying for peace, is that you aren’t praying and asking God for ‘your’ peace.  You need to ask God to fill you with HIS peace!  In the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, ‘peace’ is referrenced 361 times ~ almost once for each day of the year!  Whoohoo!!!

Check out this treasure: John 14:27 “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.”  These are the very words of Jesus to His disciples, letting them know that He was leaving them with the Holy Spirit who would be their comforter, their peace-giver.  Jesus knew that those folks then, just like us today, would need reassurance in times of fear, doubt, anxiousness, anger, trouble ~ that we would need Peace!  Worldly peace is fleeting and temporary and honestly, it won’t get you far.

So when those troubled times hit you, when you have repeated yourself to your kids for the millionth time that day about picking up after themselves, when that car cuts you off on the freeway, when the job goes away, when you’ve been treated poorly ~ you see where I’m going with this ~ give yourself a ‘Peace Out’ and pray.

Here’s the best part ~ He WILL be faithful to answer you!

Blessings,

René

2 Thessalonians 3 verse 16

 

** All bible verses found through: “BibleGateway.” .com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

 

Women's Ministries

Created for Relationship

Today, I was reminded that even though social media is a great way to stay connected with friends who live far away, nothing beats sitting down across a table and sharing life.  Even more than that, when you meet with someone that you haven’t seen in years (we’re talking like a good 15 years here!), you can still fill up three hours worth of conversation…and still not be finished. This, by the way, absolutely stymies my husband who wonders what the heck we can talk about for that long.  My answer, “What DON’T we talk about!”  But the real icing on the cake is when you are sitting across from a sister in the Lord ~ the fellowship is even more sweet!

Driving home, so thankful for the time with my friend, I was listening to some favorite Bethel music, and the song “We Dance” came on (see the link below to listen to this song on youtube), it made me so emotional.  Well, that’s not very hard to do ~ music is my love language and I love to worship my Lord in song! Part of that song I absolutely adore is “…And remind me of that song, the one You wrote for me…” It made me think of a verse that calms my heart in the midst of any unsettledness I might be feeling. I know I’ve shared this verse before, but I think it’s worth a repeat mention ~

Zephaniah 3 verse 17 - God sings over me

Seriously ~ how beautiful is God’s Word!  My friend, my sister, your Lord God – the Creator of the Universe will EXULT over you with loud singing!  He has a song just for you and He sings it over you. You know that feeling that comes out of “no where” to calm you in the storms that life kicks up…that’s HIM!  The Holy Spirit is the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” agent.

Sometimes that calmness comes in the form of God’s still small voice of encouragement, sometimes through music, and sometimes through the shared fellowship at a local coffee shop.  God created us for relationship ~ with Him and with others.  And I am so very glad He did!

My prayer for you today is that if you are struggling with a friend or family relationship, do not lose hope!  Continue to pray about it and ask God to give you the wisdom on how to move forward ~ and that might mean standing still while God works things out.  I know it’s hard, but so worth allowing the Lord to sort and sift.  And while you wait, put on your favorite worship music and let those melodies wash your heart and soul with the love the Father has for you.

Blessings,

René

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

Perspective

So many circumstances this past week have settled into the area of “Perspective” ~ the way we see things.  How we view a person or a situation all depends upon where we are and what emotions and ideas we’ve got going on at the moment.  We see what we want to at times, and completely miss what we need to be seeing at others.

Our youngest daughter, Sierra, is part of my “perspective” lesson this week.

She.Is.Now.Driving!!

Yep ~ we’ve crossed the proverbial bridge leading to vehicular freedom and the driving lessons have begun.  Sierra is proving to her Dad and I that she is a very good driver, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to jump on the freeway with her behind the wheel.  I want a few more rides around the city on surface streets under our belt before we venture onto the SoCal freeway system.  It’s not that I don’t trust her….I don’t trust the rest of the folks out there to be kind to my new driver!  In her perspective, I’m being a little silly because one day I’m going to have to let her get on the freeway, with me in the passenger seat, but not today!

How about the way we view “tech” conversations?  Our perspective is centered on our current mood, on our last interaction with this person, with the phrasing they use, etc.  Even using those cute little emoticons ~ you try and put the smiley face up there after writing something to make sure that the recipient knows you are in a good mood, but that doesn’t always cover it, does it?  My husband is incredibly aware of my propensity to add in tone and attitude when I read a text message or an email ~ please tell me that I’m not alone here people!!  He’ll give me a sly smile and say, “Really?  You got ALL that from the text?”  And this is why God blessed me with this man ~ he keeps my perspective grounded in reality….well, as much as he can anyway.  It ain’t for a lack of trying!  🙂

In a previous blog, I mentioned two great bible studies that I’m currently participating in and I love this quote from Mary Kassian’s “Conversation Peace: The Power of Transformed Speech” (p. 111), “True understanding is based on one thing and one thing only: knowledge of God.”1

Oh to remember this FIRST in all situations and conversations, and I think we would all save ourselves and loved ones a great many arguments and disagreements.  I know I most certainly would!

The dictionary origins of the word ‘perspective’ says this:  past participle stem of perspicere to look at closely (see per-inspect ) + īvus iveper a prefix meaning “through,” “thoroughly,” “utterly,” “very”:; inspect ~ 1.to look carefully at or over; view closely and critically: 2. to view or examine formally or officially; and ive ~ a suffix of adjectives (and nouns of adjectival origin) expressing tendency, disposition, function, connection, etc.:2

So here’s the “René definition” ~ Perspective: to examine a situation carefully through expressive connected-ness.

And this points us right back to the quote I mentioned above about the importance of deciphering everything through the lens of God’s truth.  True perspective is when we are intentionally connected to the person or circumstance we find our self in, weaving in the truth and knowledge that we have from God’s Word, in order to experience the reality of meaningful facts and relevant data.

Yesterday in church was another opportunity God gave me to understand ‘perspective.’  Knowing I would need to leave right before the service ended to go outside to help with some Women’s Events sign ups, I wanted to sit in the back on the aisle.  My perspective told me this would be the most efficient place to sit.  However, I did not take into consideration the man with the hat…who was seated in front of me.  He was there first yet I had the ridiculous audacity to be irritated that I had to move my head from side to side depending on how he moved his head from side to side, so that I could see the front where the choir stood and where our Pastor would eventually stand.  My husband offered to switch with me but I didn’t want to inconvenience him…how thoughtful of me, right?  So, the man with the hat and I did our little head-bobbing dance ~ and he knew nothing about it.

Thankfully, the congregation prayer that morning, led by one of our Elders, encouraged us to pray for specific points.  One of which being, to pray for the person(s) we met during the greeting time.  Well, we had arrived late and missed that part.  In His wonderful still small voice, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Why don’t you pray for the man with the hat in front of you.  He belongs to me and he wants to be here as much as you do.” The Lord was using gentle conviction to change my perspective.  The Holy Spirit softened my heart about the man in front of me and as I prayed for him, I stopped caring about the “head-bobbing” dance we would continue throughout the service.

The reality ~ he was a loved child of God, a son, a man desiring to be in the presence of His Savior and learn more about Him from pastoral teaching.  I’m thankful for this change in perspective yesterday too.  It meant I could concentrate on the message God had given our pastor, to learn more about who God is and to leave with a fuller knowledge of how God intends for me to live.  The enemy wanted to distort my perspective and make me miss the importance of the message.

I Corinthians 1:26-27 (HCSB) says, Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.  Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 

Human perspective is not a reliable measure against what is pleasing and acceptable in God’s eyes.  It gets in the way and causes us to become tempted to act pridefully, have a need for control, and with an attitude of entitlement.  Worldly wisdom declares this is the only way to act; which shows they do not have God’s truth in them.  Am I saying that we walk around like zombies without a thought or opinion in our head?  NO!  God has given us a great propensity for seeking wisdom and knowledge, requiring us to base our choices in HIM and not in the world. When we resist the temptation to fight back against an attack or share our witty (and usually sarcastic comment) with someone who ‘needs” to hear it, we are not seizing the victory in Christ that is already ours.  We do not have to attempt to be powerful and wise in order for others to listen ~ that my friends, is exhausting!  God calls us to be strong and wise IN HIM; to perceive our life perspective through the lens of God’s truth.

Here’s one the best parts ~ II Peter 1:1-4, encourages us that when we do seek the Word for knowledge, we are freely given grace and peace!  Who doesn’t yearn for those attributes?  I know I do!!

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

And not just a little bit of grace and mercy!  The Lord wants to multiply the grace and peace in our life as we follow His truths and guidelines.  The freedom to join with the Lord, to be bonded to Him, to have our salvation through Him; these are the perfect perspectives He has granted us.  We have not done anything, nor can we, to deserve His grace ~ He freely gave it to us.

But He has given us a choice.

Do we accept His gift or do we continue to strive through life struggling to make things happen how we desire them to?  One way works ~ the other way never will.  Let’s choose to walk in the perspective of God’s truth, of His grace and mercy, and pursue peace in all areas of our life!

Blessings,

René

 I Corinthians ch. 1, vs. 26-27
1. Kassian, Mary. “The Power of the Open Gate.” Conversation Peace: The Power OfTransformed Speech. 2015 ed. Nashville: LifeWay, 2015. 111. Print.
2. “Dictionary.com – The World’s Favorite Online English Dictionary!” Dictionary.com. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
** All bible verses found through: “BibleGateway.” .com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
 

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

Choosing Peace

Okay, I know…the title alone kinda makes you want to skim right past this one…I’m right there with ya!

I’m a great journey between bible studies1 this Fall.  I love it when God weaves together parts of your spiritual journey in ways that you didn’t expect.  I love the groups of women that I’m with and privileged to share life with them.  And you know what, we really are all in this together.  Different ages, backgrounds, upbringings, etc., but we are ALL on a journey to bring peace to all areas of our life.

The main thread through these studies has been ~ Peace!  And the pursuit of it!  Each study has gone about it in different ways, but the verses that have really had sirens blaring at me this week have been from Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:2-3, 25, 32 ~ “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Let those sink in…..and enjoy the soak!

Pursuing peace will contaminate your life in all ways and it’s all in good ways!  I want for you to be so full of God’s peace that you will become a magnet to those around you ~ let them see the joy in you that can only come from being in close relationship with Christ. But this can only happen if you allow God to show you the areas of your life that you need to surrender full access to the Lord, so that He can shape you into the Daughter that He has intended for you to be all along.

And here’s the great thing…you aren’t in this alone.  You have the Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit, right there with you guiding you toward the right path. Borrowing a quote from one of the studies, “God will never convict unless He fully intends to empower.”2   I said to my ladies at bible study this morning, “Instead of being fearful or feeling defeated when God brings conviction to your heart, be excited!  Yes ~ be excited that God is getting ready to bring some wonderful changes into your life that is only going to be for the better!”  So I’m thrilled for you too as you read this.  Take the plunge into the ocean of God’s grace as He restores you from the inside out to be in relationship with Him!

Blessings,

René

 

  1. The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer and Conversation Peace: The Power of Transformed Speech by Mary Kassian.
  2. Shirer, Priscilla. “The Breastplate of Righteousness.” The Armor of God. 2015 ed. Nashville: LifeWay Church Resources, 2015. 90. Print.

 

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

Filled to Fullness

Hello there friends!  It’s Tuesday and I’m posting my first “blog bite” of the week!  It has been so great to connect with many of you over the past month.  But I don’t want to keep waiting until Monday to write and post….so I’m going to send out “mini posts” throughout the week as a daily encouragement to stay in God’s Word and to keep trusting in Him!

With this weeks’ blog in mind, “What’s in a Name?”, I chose this verse to encourage you with today ~

Ephesians 3:14-20 (NIV)

A Prayer for the Ephesians

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

When we are filled with the goodness of God, goodness will flow out of us.  When we have the strength of the Lord, we are capable of handling all that comes our way.  When our feet are firmly planted on His path, we are free to become exactly who He created us to be! What a true blessing it is to know that God can do amazing things through us, because we have Him in our heart!  Keep your heart, mind, soul, and body on track with the Lord today and He will see you through!

Blessings,
Rene’

 

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

Operate out of Covenant, not Feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T.W.E.N.T.Y.F.I.V.E.  YEARS!

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

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

God…Keeps…His…Promises!

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus had a choice!  Covenant or Feelings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Rene’

**Scripture references below**

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

 

Blessings,

Rene’

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

Full of Hands

I’m starting to write again today for my blog ~ the one I began two years ago….so this is my second posting! There is no good reason or excuse…only fear that disabled my brain from putting to page what God was putting on my heart to share.  I will not let fear of the unknown rule over my life any longer. I will not allow the possibility that not everything I write and post will resonate with every reader.  I will not allow the fact that there will come a day that readers will vehemently disagree with something I post.  And that’s okay ~ because I know that I have prayed over each posting and pray continually that I will follow the call to Women’s Ministries that God has placed on my life since I was in my teens.

So, with that said…..Hello blog world ~ here I come….again…..and many more Monday’s after today! ~ “Blog2.0”

Oh, one more thing ~ Thank you to my prayer team who checks in with me via text/email/phone, to make sure that I’m sticking to my writing schedule!  You are so loved and appreciated!

The title of today’s posting is very nostalgic to me ~ “Full of Hands” ~ so, let me start with a little story!

One day, long ago when my girls were little, we were in the midst of cleaning up from a day full of playing.  Now, I wish I could remember which of my girls said this to give them credit, but I think they’ll be okay with the story nonetheless.  We were cleaning up and I asked one of the girls to pick up something they’d dropped.  Her sweet face turned up to meet mine, showing me the bevy of things she was already carrying and said, “But Mommy, I’m already full of hands.”  Of course I knew what she meant, but it was a precious explanation from a little toddler as to why she couldn’t pick up what she had dropped.

This is why I wanted to start here….choosing to not be “full of hands” and to pick up the ministry once again in my hands, being fully confident that what God has called me to, He will provide for.  He will take care of my schedule as long as I seek to not fill my hands with things that don’t line up with His plan for my life.

Do you ever feel “full of hands?” Especially in this back to school season many of us find ourselves in, we can feel it in a big way….getting everyone back on schedule, kids seeing their friends again, you seeing the mom’s in carline or back to school night, meeting new teachers, back and forth to the store 100x in a week because your child (or their teacher) remembers something else that they just have to have in class by tomorrow!  I am personally thankful that: 1) Target is open until midnight during the week, and 2) that my one darling girl (yes…that’s you Sierra!) still at home has become extremely organized with her schooling needs!  I’m sure you can add much more to this list!

Let me back up a little bit and confess where I’ve been since posting that first (and only) blog over 2 years ago, and how I allowed my life to be “full of hands.”

For those who read that first post and were so very encouraging about it, thank you!  I did not require in myself the commitment needed, I allowed fear of the unknown to set in along with fear of the calling God placed on my life, to overrule God’s tender voice.  My daughters, my husband, and friends alike were all trying to encourage me to keep it going ~ and I let it go.  So if I dropped this part of my calling, what did I hold on to instead?  * Insert regular list of excuses here! * ~ 🙂  “I don’t have the time. What if I’m not really hearing God about this? What if I write/teach something in the wrong way that causes someone confusion? What if I offend someone? What will people think who’ve known me a long time think about what I write? And on and on and on…..

Oh, but there is such a temptation to be “full of hands” with things that should not have the priority we have given them.  The word “hands” is written over 1000 times in the Bible.  Our hands are so important ~ they can be instruments of love, support, and peace, or they can become instruments of destruction and anger.  The best example of how to use our hands, and what to keep them filled with, is of course to look to Jesus and his Word.

Psalm 95:5 says, “The sea is His; He made it.  His hands formed the dry land.”  Psalm 102:25 states, “Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

In Mark 10:16, it is written about the healing of a man who had a severe skin disease.  He was healed by just the touch of the hands of Jesus.  Matthew chapter 8 shares testimony of a young girl being healed from a high fever.  In the later chapters of each of the Gospels in the New Testament, we read how Jesus was handed over to the rulers of the land to be crucified; how Pilate “washed his hands” of their actions (Matthew 27:24); and how in John 40:27, Thomas was moved to serve Christ with a renewed passion after seeing and touching the scars of the nail holes in His hands.  It is almost too much to take in that the hands that created the universe, the hands that healed and held little children, the hands that hung on that sacrificial cross, are the very hands that hold me when I’m crumbling, that clap with joy when I succeed, that hold hands with me as He walks beside me on this journey of my life.  Even as I’m sitting in a small cafe near my home, those hands are touching my heart in a way that rings true and clear that this passion I have to reach women with the promises of God is DEFINITELY from Him!

While I’ve been reading through these beautiful scriptures about hands, one has struck me like never before ~ which by the way, don’t you LOVE that about God’s Word? You can read a passage a dozen times, and then suddenly one day it comes alive and smacks you in the face with its beautiful truth because God took that moment to speak to you and personally show you something new in that moment!  I love this about my Lord!!

Mark 1:41 says, “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.”  The man mentioned in this verse was said to be suffering from “a serious skin disease” (vs. 40) which most likely means he suffered from the disease of leprosy. He came to Jesus, falling to his knees begging Jesus to heal him, “if You are willing, You are able to make me clean.” (vs. 40).  Notice that the man had no doubt that Jesus could heal him, it was a matter of would He.

Besides the fact that I love word studies and finding scriptures that apply to those words, searching various translations of God’s Word provides such a robust insight to what I’m learning.  In verse 41, the Holman Christian Study Bible states that Jesus was “moved with compassion…” while in the Amplified version it says, “And being moved with pity and sympathy…” Reflecting on this phrasing, it seems to me that Jesus did not feel compassion because the man had a skin disease, but He reacted with sympathetic compassion because of the purity of the man’s heart as he acknowledged Jesus’ power and had accepted in his heart that Jesus may or may not heal him.  I love that, in this case, Jesus’ response was immediate!

He reached out His hand, touched the man, and this man was healed immediately!

Two years ago, I had the privilege and opportunity to go on a mission’s trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with my middle daughter Savannah.  This trip was comprised of mostly high school students, one teacher & his family and two other parents.  An interesting combination for sure!  We worked with Mission Emanuel* in the small village of Cielo.  So many stories and experiences wrapped up in that 10 day trip ~ but that’s a posting for another time!  I bring up this trip because we visited one of the last remaining leper care centers set up by Mother Theresa, called The Sisters of Mercy Leprosarium.  We exited the bus there one day, not knowing what to expect and were greeted by some of the happiest people I’ve seen.  These folks were wheel-chair rolling, walking, talking testimonies of being content in the Lord regardless of the extreme circumstances of their life.  One man, who we later found out had been a Pastor, rolled up to us with a huge smile on his face and asked, “Do you know Jesus as Your Savior?  If you don’t, let me tell you about Him.”  Amazing!! Well, our team was there to officially do some minor repair work on the buildings and paint the walls.  However as you can probably imagine, the real ministry happened when we sat with the residents, listened to their stories, and held their hands.

One of the residents told us that we were the first team (that they could recall anyway) who came in without gloves on.  We reached out and touched their shoulders, laid hands on their hands as we prayed over them, stretched out our hands to take a hold of theirs.  I cannot help but be brought back to tears as I remember watching my daughter and her friends on the team, lift up the frail body of one of the bed-ridden residents to help her eat a Pringles potato chip and then patiently give her water to drink.  The woman’s toothless grin of joy was almost too much to bear.  In another room later that afternoon, I watched the hands of my daughter play her guitar while she and about eight other students gathered around a young woman in her 30’s (who had been abandoned at the leprosarium by her family), holding her finger-less hands, arms around her shoulders, singing praise songs in English and Spanish.  How completely overflowing was my heart that day with God’s grace.  How full my heart remains to this day.

What is it in our lives that are causing us to be “full of hands?”  What is it that we need to come to the feet of Jesus and say to Him, like the leper in Mark 1:421, “if you are willing, You are able to make me clean.”

Jesus sees us through the eyes of compassion when we come to Him with a heart desiring to be purified from the “disease” of our life ~ whether it be busyness, procrastination, fear, anger, unforgiveness, passivity, etc. ~ Jesus is ready and willing to immediately reach out His hand and heal us.  When we empty our hands of the unnecessary and open them available (and empty!), we can have the joy of having our hands full of His plans! Please resist the temptation to keep a few things of your own choosing, dangling off your fingertips while attempting to grasp the gift of what God wants to bless you with.  Something will drop, and that will derail the purposes and plans God intended.  Open, available hands that are ready to receive and carry out God’s plan are ones that are willing to be uncomfortable while firmly ensconced in trusting the One who makes the plans.  They are not immune from pain or suffering.  You may encounter persecution of varying degrees by friends or family, but you will be resting in the Hands that created the universe!  The book of Acts is filled with testimony of the disciples, apostles, and followers of Christ, who dealt with a variety of persecutions.  But they trusted their Savior to watch over them and lead them on His path.  I’m so thankful for these early Believers who paved the way for the world to know God and make Him known.

Acts 11:21 proclaims “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.”

My prayer for you dear sister, is that you examine what you are “full of hands” with, and trust that when you give it all over to the Lord, He will absolutely direct your path and He will not let you fall.  This is an exciting time in your life to see what the next step God has in store for you!  And I’m thrilled that you are joining me on this ride of my life as well!!  Take that step and He will guide you, with the ever-loving touch of His powerful and tender hand.

Blessings,                                                                                                                                                                   René

*for more information on this amazing place, please log into http://www.missionemanuel.org