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Feasting or Striving…

Feasting or Striving - blog 3-2020

Photo by Rebecca on Unsplash

If you have a dog, then you know how sensitive their hearing is when it comes to anything that might possibly be related to food!

We have a little 8-pound Maltese/poodle/mutt rescue dog who just turned 10 years old. And not slowing down anytime soon. He lounges around the house sleeping away most of the day, but open any kind of package or clank around the mixing bowls, and he goes into a dead run, straight for the kitchen.

I was making a double batch of chili the other day for a meeting that was happening at our house, and there was a lot of food prep. I had just put fresh water and food in his bowls for our little Max, but that soon proved to not be good enough.

As I opened up cans of beans (no shame…I’ve got other things to do that soak four different kinds of beans overnight, etc. etc.), cooking the ground turkey, onions, and celery and portioning out the spices. Oh yeah, the kitchen was smelling fantastic! And Max was right there for all the action!

God is so good in giving me insight into my relationship with Him through everyday tasks, and today was no different. 

I watched Max scurry around the kitchen furiously searching for scraps or random bits of food that had fallen on the floor. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “You do the same thing sometimes.” What? Was the Lord really comparing me to my dog?! Then I heard Him say,

“I have provided all the nourishment you need yet you still scurry around looking for scraps that will never satisfy you.”

Whoa! He was right of course!

Let’s see if anything of these things resonate with you too…

When I get my feelings hurt (yes, even after 50 that still happens friends!) many times my first reaction is to complain about it to whoever will listen. I’ll call a friend, text someone else, or verbal vomit to my husband. I’m not looking for them to fix the problem, I just “want to be heard.” I want my side of the story to matter the most.

Honestly, I’m not looking for a solution to my heart issues, I’m searching for vindication in my quest to be upset. After all, don’t I have the right to be upset after being hurt?

Philippians 2:3-4 AMP,Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Hmmm…looks like I don’t have that “right” after all.

This is what I mean by ‘striving for scraps’: we will feel sad, hurt, frustrated, annoyed, mad, etc., but we do not have the right to stay that way. 

God has given us the most amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, and each time we choose our emotions over giving our hurts to the Lord, we are striving for scraps.

I Peter 5:6-8 gives us the perfect solution to whatever is causing us offense:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.

The Lord does not want us to come to Him some of the time, or most of the time to give Him our concerns. He wants us to come to Him ALL the time with ALL the things!

Years ago, after something happened with a friend, I felt offended and upset. I was venting to one of my daughters and she said, “Mom, you just need to give this to the Lord. It’s not doing you any good to be upset.”

I don’t know about you, but being parented by your adult children is not my favorite ~ especially when they are right!

I was immediately upset with her and unceremoniously replied, “Oh yes it does! I have a right to be mad, and I’m going to be mad for a while. Don’t tell me that I can’t be mad.”

Seriously, who’s the adult and who’s the child in this scenario?

Anyway, she was of course, right!

The Lord doesn’t want us to walk around mad, upset, or angry. It does not accomplish anything good! It is not beneficial to our life. And it can create more problems than you started with.

Instead of feasting on “the right to be mad”, what would have been better is to feast on God’s Word. Everything we need is right there. We don’t need to scurry around grasping for justification for our actions. We have to stop running around attempting to be filled by what the world says will work for our situation.

Turning to the Lord to answer us in various circumstances shows maturity. It means that we know our hearts will truly be filled only in His truth. By trusting what the Lord has taught us in scripture and by quieting ourselves to listen to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we will not be tempted to scurry about like a dog looking for scraps.

Hebrews 5:13-14, 13 For everyone who lives on milk is [doctrinally inexperienced and] unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a spiritual infant. 14 But solid food is for the [spiritually] mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil.

We are mature when we eat the solid food of God’s Word. 

When we feast, we are taking our time to enjoy the company of our host. 

When we strive, we are completely ignoring the bounty set before us. 

If you were invited to a dinner party, you wouldn’t bring your own food or scurry about the kitchen attempting to make something “better” than what had been prepared. You would arrive, ready to be treated to scrumptious food and delightful companionship.

That is how it is with the Lord. He’s provided everything you need to rest and relax in Him.

Sit down and feast! 

So my friend, when you feel like you deserve to be mad, or right, or sense that life is spinning out of control; take a step back and really look at the situation. When you keep telling people about the same problems over and over again, but still refuse to take anyone’s advice; when you walk around feeling like you deserve to act the way that you are because you got your feelings hurt; these are moments the Holy Spirit is waving a big red spiritual flag in your face!

STOP!

Stop the striving. Stop the scurrying. Stop the selfishness.

Trust in the good words of scripture and feast on His truths ~ the Lord will never lead you astray!

Blessings,

René

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

Careful, your mask is slipping…

I was recently watching a show that I had recorded on TV, called Kingdom of Heaven, taking place in the 12th century during the Crusades, set in Jerusalem. {http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320661/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1}

It was very fascinating to me that the king of Jerusalem at the time was not a well man, he had leprosy. But that did not stop him from ruling the country. His birthright deemed it so and he did his job to the best of his ability. It was interesting how he wore a metal face mask to hide the ravages of leprosy that had attacked his face. For every day tasks he had a plain mask, where the only thing you could see was his eyes. It was a little unsettling to be able to hear him speak but not see his mouth or his lips moving. The mask was solid in the area all around his face except for his eyes. What I found very interesting was that when he knew he needed to go to war with the enemy, with all of his frailties and disfigurement, he knew as the king he had to be the one to lead his people, his army into battle.

He did not dress down for the battle either. He put on his full armor.

It was so astonishing to see him enter the battlefield dressed in his finest linen edged with intricate gold stitching and amazingly intricate patterns of other gold fabric that had been woven into the garment. But what was even more fascinating was his mask. The mask he wore was absolutely stunning. It had been carved with beautiful flowers and vines that intersected all over the whole thing. When he met his enemy in the middle of the battlefield he spoke with strength and determination and was able to settle their proposed battle without any bloodshed.

Upon his death he wore another mask that was darker in color to reflect the somber situation. The last words he spoke to his sister were, “Please remember me for who I am and what I used to look like in my youth.” You see, she had not seen him in his disfigurement.

He had servant’s that took care of him and his decaying body…and were sworn to secrecy. And I don’t believe it was from embarrassment, I think it was from a place of honor and respect. But after this king had breathed his last, the sister removed mask ~ his beautiful & perfect mask ~ to reveal a face that was hideously disfigured by the leprosy.

She was of course shocked, but you could tell the sadness in her eyes was simply because her brother was now gone. Not because of what he looked like.

So how many masks do we wear throughout our life, our day?

When we are feeling disfigured spiritually by the sin in our life, we put on a mask, and use beautiful garments to hide what is really going on underneath. We have different masks that we wear depending on who we are with. A mask with our family when we are out in public. A mask when we are with our family behind closed doors. A mask that we wear when we are volunteering at our kids school. The mask we wear at work every day. Maybe even the mask we wear with our spouse?

Most of the time I think that mask we tend to put on is just a regular, simple and fairly ambiguous mask. The one that says, “Life is great!” when it really isn’t.

The more beautiful the mask, the more disfigured the soul. The harder we try to distract from the ache of our soul, the deeper the lines are at carved into our mask. We don’t want to let anyone know about what is really going on…

  • Anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Eating Disorder
  • An abusive relationship
  • Difficult children that are getting out of control
  • Addiction problem
  • And the list goes on and on.

So what happens when that mask slips? When our frustrations and fears get the better of us and we begin acting out of control?

Luke 12:2-3 says, “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. (HSCB)

How much of our life stays covered and hidden from the Lord?  NONE of it! The masks that we have so cleverly and carefully fashioned over the years, will fall away in the instant that we come before the Lord, humble ourselves, and ask Him to make the beautiful the disfigurement of sin.

I John 5:12-15 reminds us, “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. (HCSB) {emphasis mine}

The Lord came to earth for YOU…to bring you back from the depths of sin and eternal death.  He does not want you to experience the death of sin, so He has given us the gift of His salvation.  There is nothing we can do to earn it.  There is no need to wear a mask of perfection for Him…because He can already see beneath the mask.

From personal experience, I know what happens when you remove the masks you where in your life. Freedom happens. But it isn’t easy. God expects us and wants us to be a part of the recovery. We have to be determined to operate within the power and strength of HIS might…not our own.  When we try to do it on our own, the mask will pop right back on!  Don’t save the mask, no matter how beautiful you think it is!  THROW IT OUT!

You find true freedom in walking the path as the person God created you to be, flaws and all. You will bring honor to the Lord when others see that you struggle in life, but more importantly, you put your faith and hope in the power of the Lord.  When the mask comes off, we are proclaiming that we are not perfect, but we are perfectly LOVED by the Creator of the Universe.

And if you have any doubts as to where “the mask” fits into the spiritual battle armor (Ephesians 6)  we are called to wear?

It doesn’t.

There is NO mask.

When the mask comes off, our countenance will tell the story of God’s redemption and His love.

Matthew 5:16 declares, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” {emphasis mine}
Take off your mask today ~ choose to live in the freedom of eternal life ~ and share with others the great glory of God’s salvation!
Blessings,
 René
Luke 12 verses 2-3

 

 

 

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

Peace is NOT Anxiety Management…

This past week or so, I was on vacation with my family and we had a wonderful time together.  Not only did I enjoy the fact that we were seeing beautiful parts of the TN and visiting family and friends that lived there, all five of us were together and enjoying spending time with each other.  Even with the unfamiliar humidity, it was a peaceful and relaxing time together! My daughters are 22, 20, and 16 and they are hilarious!  We truly had great times and they are so fun to be with! I remember traveling with them when they were little ones, and it is so challenging…so if you’re reading this and you have littles…hang in there!  You WILL reach a day when you don’t have to pack a stroller, diaper bag, three changes of clothes, and a pack n play!  But while you have your littles…enjoy those moments too…they really are fleeting!

While on this trip, I had the opportunity to go to two different churches with family there and loved how God gave me insight to even more truths in His Word.  Hearing from a pastor that is not from your home church, sometimes makes you pay a bit more attention because it’s all new.  The setting, the people, the worship team….I love seeing how God’s people come together with the main goal of soaking in knowledge and pursuing the truths of scripture, and making them a reality in their lives.

One of the pastors went through several verses in Psalm 27 ~ which I love!  Such words of encouragement painted a picture of hope on a backdrop of the fear King David was up against. The pastor was talking about what we do in life to combat fear and how we can allow the Lord to take away those fears and replace them with peace.

Psalm 27:3 says,Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”

Psalm 27 verse 3

There are so many verses in the Bible that speak about peace (over 350 of them actually), but I believe that this verse above completely encapsulates what it is to have real peace in our lives.

It doesn’t say that we can be without fear and fully confident because nothing bad is happening to us or to those around us.  No!  In this passage, David was literally surrounded by an army of bloodthirsty jealous men and a King who was completely out of his mind, and their goal was to find David and kill him.  Why?  Simply because God the Father had called David to be the next King of Israel and the current King didn’t want to let go of his title.  You may not be crowned the next King of your country, but I would venture to say that the feeling of being surrounded by people who want to see you fail, is probably something most of us are familiar with.

The word peace means ~ “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations; freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction,anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity.” 

How do we get to a peaceful place?  If you think you can accomplish this on your own…let me encourage you to take a new tack.

We are not called to manage our emotions or feelings…nor are we called to keep them “in check.” When you have a relationship with the Lord as your Savior, we are called to give over all of our anxieties and worries to Him and trust Him to cover them and all the fears that go along with them.  We are not promised a stress free life, but we are promised life everlasting.  We are not promised a life without pain or struggle, but we are promised a life of grace and mercy, through the salvation we find in Jesus Christ.

So when we submit our fears to the Lord and truly allow Him to take them away from us and give us peace in return…remember that it is not peace that we have mustered up for ourselves.  It is HIS PEACE that we are given.

John 14:27 says, “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.”

This verse in John mirrors the verse in Psalm 27 ~ the Lord does not intend for us to walk around with troubled hearts and minds.  He knows that we will encounter incredibly difficult times and situations, but He wants to give us His peace so that we can endure those moments.

Recently, my heart has ached for those around me that I see who are ruled by fear.  This doesn’t mean they necessarily hole up in their homes.  Fear can present itself in the form of: control, anger, bitterness, regret, self-righteousness, or pride…just to name a few.  Honestly, I see right through these attitudes and know they are based in fear because I recognize them in myself.  I have battled with all of these negative attitudes and have hurt those I love.  It has taken years to repair some relationships, and sometimes only a short time.  God is good and He wants me to live a peace-filled life.

So because of knowing the pain of being controlled by fear, I want these friends to experience the pure joy and freedom of God’s peace, but I cannot force them to take His peace.  They have to want it for themselves.  Instead of being frustrated with how their fears manifest them-self, I must instead be in prayer for them and seek the Lord on their behalf, that they will one day soon give over their fears to the Lord and live in peace.

I love Psalm 27 so much, that I feel led to just print the whole thing out right here for you to read…and this is how I will end today’s blog.  Before you read them, I would like to ask you to pray and ask the Lord to see these verses anew and for Him to show you deep meaning in them that pertain to YOUR LIFE TODAY!  The Lord wants to show you how much He loves you, and He can accomplish so much of that when you read His Word. Soak in these words and let them resonate in your heart.

Blessings,

René

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!

You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!

14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

 

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+27&version=ESV

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/peace?s=t