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

The Coffee Grinder of Life…

With all three of our children involved in coffee/food services, especially the two that work at coffee shops, we really have become coffee snobs. Only now when we are desperate for a cup of coffee (or receive a gift card) do we even step foot in the land of the little green mermaid…local shops are the place to be and a fresh brewed cup at home is even better! So pretty much every morning, we open our bag of organic, sustainable, fair trade coffee and pour those glorious beans into the coffee grinder for just what we need for the day.

And one day, I felt like I was those beans. I was feeling a bit “ground up” to tell you the truth. I’m thankful it doesn’t happen often, and I’m grateful the Lord helps me to recognize when I’m starting to go to down a particularly dark path in my mind. But that day, I resonated with coffee in a totally different way.

So hang with me here in my little revelation about the similarities between that awesome cup of coffee and the paths of our life…

A loving gardener tills the soil of his farm and prepares a beautiful space for the seeds of a coffee plant to grow. He waters the seeds and the plant begins to burst forth from the ground, first just a little sprout and then into a lovely fruitful plant. The tiny fruit that comes from the plant is what the coffee farmer has been waiting for. At just the right moment, when the coffee berries are ripe, they are plucked off the branches. Even though they are ripe, they must go through an extensive period where they are processed, and then dried. The dull green of the coffee bean is not super appetizing to look at, but it has all it needs to eventually become a fantastic cup of coffee.

Before that can happen though, those beans have to be poured out into a roasting machine. They are in there with a bunch of other beans, being pushed around by a rotating metal arm to make sure that each bean is perfectly roasted without being burned by the heat. They slowly gain a shiny, almost bronze-like, appearance and the aroma is delightful!!

But they still aren’t done! You can’t just pour some coffee beans into your favorite mug, pour hot water over them and expect to have great coffee!

Nope ~ those beautiful beans have to be ground up because that is when their true flavor and vitality can be experienced. Once they are ground up to perfection, they must now endure the slow process of near-boiling water cascading over and through the grounds. Then and only then, will you produce a spectacular nectar of rich, warm, coffee to begin your day with.

Whew! Okay…hang on…I gotta go pour myself another cup of coffee!

Guess what…we are that dull green coffee bean.

Sometimes I think that just because I’ve seen growth in my life that has transformed an area of my life from a seed into a tangible fruit, that should be enough. I don’t want any more transformation. It’s hard to work for an actual seed to push its way through the top soil, just like it’s hard for us to push ourselves towards those new goals God puts in our heart ~ but the growth is not the end. How God uses the fruit that He produces in our life is what our goal needs to be. He is the consummate Gardener of our life ~ He knows us from the inside out!

I know that I’m not the only one who has those days where you feel like you’ve been through an emotional grinder. One minute your shiny and whole, and the next your soul feels crushed to dust. When I’ve been at that point, there is usually always something that the Lord needs to sift me from. It could be forgiving someone, it could be asking forgiveness from someone, it could be repenting from sin that keeps repeating itself, it could be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship or activity….so many things!

That’s the part I think most resembles the “hot water pour over” if you will. The slow yet intentional working of the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to produce the best parts of us. The fresh new perspective we need to do the work that He has called us to do. The aroma that HE wants us to have that will be pleasing to those in our circles of influence. That “coffee ring mark” that He wants us to leave on the hearts of those we minister to and share the gospel with.

So the next time you have your coffee, maybe you’ll think of what kind of coffee you are…

Are you “instant coffee” out of a jar that has lost its flavor and vitality but still tries to pass itself off as acceptable?

Or are you the shiny little bean that is perfectly ground in order to produce the most genuine and delightful cup of coffee?

You get to pick everyday! So choose well! Now go get a cup of coffee and take Jesus with you!!

Blessings,

René

 

Colossians 1:9-11, For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy;”

Colossians 1 verse 10

 

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

Abundant Heaps…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That brings us to kindness.

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

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

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

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

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

Heaping Abundance of Grace.

Heaping Abundance of Kindness.

Heaping Abundance of Love.

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

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

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

Blessings,

René

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

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 *

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

Jesus IS Enough…

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

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

Flippant answer ~ because we’re human.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus IS Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ephesians-6-verses-19-and-20

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

Jesus IS Enough.

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

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

Blessings,

René

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

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

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

Sewing and Stitching…

Last week, I was working on finishing a quilt for my oldest daughters’ 21st birthday. She wanted me to make her a special T-shirt quilt using her favorite tees from high school ~ and there were A LOT!  So this past week, she turned 23! Yeah…its been that kind of project!

I found a quiet place to work on this lap quilt {which actually turned into a QUEEN SIZE quilt} and a location where I could spread out. I went to church! I unloaded everything from my car, set up three 8ft banquet tables, plugged in my sewing machine and went to work.

About two hours in, something went very wrong. Suddenly, the machine wasn’t working. If you’ve ever worked with a sewing machine, you know how crippling it can feel when “for no reason” things stop working.  And when you are in a time crunch, that is a sickening feeling.

My. Heart. Sank.

The machine got stuck…SIX TIMES!  Needle stuck in the fabric, fabric jammed in the lower mechanism ~ nothing was moving.  Like, not one thing!  Very, very carefully I had to lift the fabric up enough to cut away the thread. I could be frustrated AFTER the fabric was free…I didn’t want to cut the wrong part.  I was on the brink of packing it all up and quitting. But I didn’t. I prayed so I wouldn’t  cry & then…then I called my mom! She’s an amazing seamstress & I knew she could help me. I told her what the displayed “code” on the machine said every time it jammed…she looked it up online since I didn’t have wifi, and she started laughing. I did NOT see the humor. She said, “Well, it says that E6 means that the machine is jammed.”

No duh!!!

[Insert scream here!]

She encouraged me to take a deep breath & keep looking for the problem. I got some scrap fabric & that machine jammed about FIVE MORE TIMES!!! Then on the sixth attempt, the machine didn’t jam but the thread coming from the bobbin was a complete mess on the underside of the fabric.

That’s when I saw the problem.

The bobbin was the wrong size and was bouncing around inside. Oh, and I had set the stitch size improperly.  It was at this point the Lord began to reveal to me the similarity between a jammed sewing machine and a jammed life.

I realized how sometimes, on the outside of my life “the pretty side,” everything looks great but underneath the surface my life is stuck, out of control, and operating with improper settings ~ I’m stuck.

So how do we get “unstuck?” We have to allow the Lord to gently lift our tired souls away from the problem and cut away all that is wrong.

If I had yanked the fabric instead of being gentle with it, I would have ruined the top part of the quilt that I had spent countless days and hours stitching together.  Had I hastily cut away the bad thread, I would have cut a hole or two in that same fabric.

When we are “jammed,” the Lord does not toss us about to and fro, yanking or tearing.  We may feel that way, but let’s be honest…aren’t we the ones causing us to be tossed about underneath the careful hands of our Maker?  When we feel cut to the core or ripped apart, could it be that sometimes we are not willing to be held gently and allow the Lord to take His time to remove those parts of our life that are causing us harm?

While we’re still here in this land of symbolism, let’s think about what parts of our own life are not in sync with each other?  Do we have parts that we have borrowed from other people?  Are we trying to be a different “model” than who God created us to be?

When you put the wrong size bobbin in a machine and try to sew, it just won’t work.  Well, it may work for a while when the bobbin is full-up with thread, but as time goes on, that thing is just gonna spin in circles, and not the good kind.  It’ll get to spinning so fast that it will come unraveled.  So many times I have been ‘unraveling’ and didn’t realize it until it was too late and life got majorly jammed!

Just because another friend, a fellow church member, your ‘mom friends’ at your kids’ school, or a an office mate can function at a particular “life speed” ~ it doesn’t mean that you can too!  And you know what…that’s okay!  God has calibrated your life to run at a certain speed ~ the only fuel you need to run at top speed is what you get from spending time in His Word and time in prayer with Him.

You have been created for the purpose that God has FOR YOU!

Just like a quilt, each square is painstakingly measured and planned out.  The fabric pieces that are chosen are done so ON PURPOSE in order to enhance the quilt as a whole.  Each fabric square that is created for a quilt is done so ONE at a time.  It is truly a fascinating experience to put one together, and as each row comes together, the beauty of each separate square becomes more intense as the pieces are sewn together.  For as much time the front side of the quilt takes to put together visually, I actually think more time is spent looking at it from the back side; the side with all the cut edges, the ends of threads, the reverse side of the fabric looking faded.  If all I focused on in sewing that quilt was the back side, I think I would have become dismayed at the true beauty it beheld.

My friend, God spends a lot of time on the underneath side of our life.  The side we don’t want anyone to see.  The side we feel is unkempt and faded.  HOWEVER….if we allow Him to show us His purposes for how everything is ironed out and stitched together, we are given the spectacular privilege to have a front row seat when God turns our life right-side out, and we see the beauty of our own “life quilt” ~ the beauty He already knew was there.

Blessings,

René
{My daughter Caitlin & I with her quilt💗}