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The Sound of Stillness…

Is stillness really a sound?

I think it is and sometimes it is absolutely deafening.

Our society within the American culture is extremely uncomfortable with stillness.

My personal comfort zone is uncomfortable with stillness. But, I think silence is different than stillness though.

When my girls were little I absolutely craved silence by the end of the evening. I will admit that one of my favorite games sometimes was “The Quiet Game” ~ if I could just get 15 seconds or even a whole minute of silence, I could refocus my brain and continue on with our day. Even though I’m an extrovert and a 2w1 on the Enneagram scale, there are times I must schedule time to be quiet. But that can look different depending on the day. Sometimes the quiet I need is to take a long nap in the middle of the afternoon. Some days, like today, it’s to find a quiet local coffee shop, where I can collect my thoughts and put them down for you to read. Other days, the silence is reading a book or sitting with a friend.

But to be still….to truly be still…that’s a whole other story.

When I’m fighting the stillness, it is in that exact moment I have to stop and realize that in the stillness is where God speaks to us the loudest.

I’ve shared a story before how God spoke to me about my priorities (and my mothering!) when I’d been in car accident. The result was a fracture in the T5/T6 part of my spine. The miracle was two-fold: The night before I was to be fitted with a body brace that I’d have to wear for 6-12 months, God healed me through the many prayers of friends and family members. The other came when although I didn’t need the brace, I was still prescribed 3 weeks of complete, upright bedrest: no laying down, no slouching, ice packs, heat packs, no going downstairs, and basically no physical contact. You tell an enneagram 2 that they can’t hug anyone (or be hugged!) for THREE WEEKS!! May as well of told me to stop breathing!! This is where God used the stillness of those three weeks to draw me back to Him. Partly because I was alone A LOT and I had to rely on Him for my sanity, but more so in the fact that since my girls couldn’t hug me before and after school, they began to kneel down and “hug” my feet. Big lesson in humility for sure!

Psalm 46:10 {AMP} “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

But God knew I needed that ~ He had to ‘still’ me because I was too busy running around acting like I had it all together and didn’t need Him. When God wants to get our attention, He will!

Right now, I feel like I’m in a place of stillness. And I really, really, like not all, really don’t like it. I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough now to know that He is about to do something big. Not in the way the world would necessarily think is big, but big for Him and His name sake. That doesn’t always equate right away with feeling peace in the stillness.

Mark 4:39 ” {AMP} And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness].”

I love the verbiage in the Amplified Bible, especially in this verse in Mark 4. When Jesus hushed the sea and told the wind to stop, it stopped as if it was a child who’d been fighting a nap and suddenly realizes they are weary. They need to stop fighting. They need to be still. I love the last two words of this verse ~ perfect peacefulness. That just gives me chills! Notice here with me, that the wind did nothing to gain the peaceful calm EXCEPT to obey the voice of the Lord.

Stillness before the Lord that brings that kind of peace. 

The Lord has been whispering plans and ideas to my heart for a while now and I am so excited to share it with you when the time is right. At any rate, a few weeks ago I was feeling so confident and telling everyone how great it was to be able to hear what the Lord was telling me were my next steps. Usually the “next steps” are great because it means were in a path of forward motion and most of the time that is a good thing. I loved the fact that God was showing me what ministries and activities I needed to say ‘no’ to in order to get me even more ready to be available to say ‘yes’ to the new things He has for me in the near future. It was exciting. Honestly, it felt empowering to be able to do that. 

But now, I’m feeling like I’m in a wonky in-between place. I’ve cleaned out my schedule of anything that would distract me from hearing the Lord’s direction. Now what? 

Stillness.

Psalm 23:1-3 {AMP} The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Like me, you’ve most likely read these verses in Psalm 23 many times. Today, I’m soaking them in a little deeper. I’m taking note of the clarity of these verses and it is beginning to help me settle into this stillness I’m feeling.

Just as the seas and wind only needed to obey the voice of the Lord, I cannot DO anything to gain peace or refreshment. In the stillness, look at what the Lord wants to give us:

to be fed

to be guided

to be shielded

to be provided for

to be still

to be led

to be refreshed

to be restored

And none of that is for my glory but for His. But it is ALL for my benefit! Whoa!! I do not find my own stillness. I do not create my own stillness. Only the Lord can orchestrate stillness in my life that will be of any use to my soul. My part in the stillness is to listen to His voice and trust that He loves me enough to create seasons of stillness.

Out of those seasons, the stillness will bring a new sense of peace that only He can give.

I can honestly say that after putting the words of my heart down on this page, I am feeling a new sense of contentment in this season of stillness that God has welcomed me into. I will move forward each day, trusting that He has a good plan for tomorrow, next week, and beyond. He desires for me to join Him in it! That’s pretty cool friends!

Stillness may not be one of my favorite things, but it is definitely one of the most important things I can do as the Lord moves me into new opportunities to learn and to teach.

Where is the Lord calling you into stillness right now? If you’re not sure, sit with Him in the stillness and ask Him. Even if you have to “run away” to your car in the driveway…find a few moments of quiet stillness.

Because in that place, you will be able to hear Him the loudest.

Blessings,

René

STILLNESS

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

 

 

 

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Becoming Unoffended…

We have all been offended. Someone cuts us off on the freeway. We’re telling our spouse something only to realize that they’ve been scrolling through their emails or social media. Our kids aren’t listening. A group of friends is out on the town and no one invited you. I’m sure you can add a few of your own examples too.

Then it happens. You’re offended.

In March of 2017, I experienced a freedom from the spirit of offense and I’ve not looked back once! It was an incredible moment to be prayed for, and I literally said out loud to the Lord, “I’m so tired of this. Please God. Deliver me from being offended all the time.” And He did…ugly cry and all. I literally felt a huge weight lift off my heart and my mind ~ it was incredible!

This experience came at a time in my life when the Lord was shifting the direction of ministry. I’ve always been involved with women’s ministries but I knew God was leading me to be more purposeful and intentional to minister to college-aged girls. I should have known that this deliverance would prove to be more than I imagined. Not only did I live in a new-found joy of daily life, but I began to see people around me through the eyes of Jesus.

Walking around being offended all the time is exhausting. And it’s no way to be in true ministry to others.

But here’s the thing ~ I really thought I deserved to be offended. “If people around me would just _______________, then I wouldn’t be upset.” It was never ‘my fault’ and I made sure to let everyone know that their  actions and attitudes were the problem. They were ‘making me’  react in an offended manner.

It was all them; never me.

This spirit of offense had woven itself so intricately into my soul that I had no clue how to escape it. I didn’t like being offended. But then I’d rationalize it by thinking, “Well, I know I’m right about this, so it’s okay to be offended.” What? That’s just crazy talk! The flip side of living with a spirit of offense, is that anytime someone does actually treat you poorly, instead of feeling offended, you end up feeling ‘less than.’ Then you are walking around exuding attitudes of feeling dejected, unworthy, unseen, and so on.

This is right where the Devil wants you to live.

Because it’s not just you that is affected by your actions when you activate offense in your heart. You lead others astray. If you overreact to a situation, you give people the motivation to tell others about how you freaked out. Enter in gossip. In your pursuit of being offended (yeah…your pursuit…because you certainly aren’t pursuing a godly response in that moment), you will inevitably lead others to join you. What good is that?

1 John 2:10 says, “The one who loves and unselfishly seeks the best for his [believing] brother lives in the Light, and in him there is no occasion for stumbling or offense [he does not hurt the cause of Christ or lead others to sin].”

You know the old saying, “Misery loves company.”? Well, it does. Think about a time when you were feeling miserable, feeling offended. How did you handle it? You either sat at home getting deeper and deeper into your offense, or you called someone to tell them your tale of woes, or worse yet, you took to social media to blast someone publicly. In all three scenarios, you had company.

The first one ~ you were allowing the enemy to take a seat on the couch next to you. He made you feel like you deserved to be offended. He used that to plant seeds for your next move.

The second one ~ to fuel your ‘rightness’ you need to bring in someone else who will empathize with you and tell you that you have a ‘right’ to be offended.

The last scene ~ in your ‘rightness’ you decide that the offender needs to be put on notice. Even if you don’t use the persons name, it will be completely obvious to many in your circles who you are publicly complaining about. Let me guarantee you ~ no one will even be aware of what you are offended about; they will simply see a vindictive person lashing out in a shameful way.

The best place to start in your journey to become free of offense, is to speak it out loud. Meet up with a friend, your pastor, or your spouse, and tell them everything that is on your heart. James 5:16 encourages us in this way, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  It’s so true! Confession is truly good for the soul.

Speaking your story out loud, telling the Lord what you need Him to forgive you for and bring restoration to your heart, is worth it all. When you speak it out loud, the power of that offense is gone. The goal of the enemy is to make us keep everything hidden; to bury deep down inside the parts of our life that make us feel shameful. That is never the goal of the Lord. He wants to bring us into the glory of His light that brings healthy and wholeness to our life.

There is such beautiful freedom in being unoffendable. I know, it sounds lofty and unattainable, but it’s absolutely possible.

You were created in the image of God to worship Him and bring others to Him. Living your life in a way that makes other people want to know Jesus is to be our goal. What better way to bring God glory than to show others how to live an unoffendable life.

Blessings,

René

Unoffended blog{Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash}

 

 

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Living with open wounds…

I recently heard a phrase that broke my heart, “My wounds are still open.”

It is a simple, yet jarring statement. It is one that made me want to give the person a big hug and let them know that it was going to be okay. It just made me weep.

Almost as immediately as the tears came, the promises from scripture filled my mind. Jesus does not intend for us to live with open wounds. He is the Healer of Healers and in Him do we find the answer for what ails the deepest part of our spirit.

When my daughters were little, there would be the inevitable skinned knee or elbow as they played outside. They would come to me with those big crocodile tears and tell me how they got hurt. Of course, I would scoop them up and bring them inside with the promise that “Momma will make it better.”

Before I could put on the bandage though, my sweet girl would have to sit through the tough part first. To ward off infection, you have to clean the wound and it stings! I’d try to make a game of it, “I’ll sing a song and you blow on it.” Okay probably not super sanitary to blow on an open wound, but they all survived! Depending on the intensity of the wound, sometimes the cleaning out process took a few tries. Once I knew it was all clean, the antibiotic ointment was applied and then a fresh bandage. Ahhh….the tears dried up and the soul of my toddler was soothed.

It still wasn’t immediately healed but the process had begun. I mean, just the concept of skin growing back over the part that was skinned off (sorry if you’re eating right now…) is a phenomenal part of how incredible God created our bodies!  He knew our bodies would need protection and He created a perfect plan to accomplish this! He is beyond amazing!! All this to say, it takes time for the wound to heal; for the skin to grow back; for the tenderness to go away. But when it’s all completely healed, most of the time you can’t even tell where the wound had been. Sometimes it leaves a scar, but that also means that the wound is healed.

What about the wounds that happen out of our disobedience? Or the wounds that are inflicted on us by another person? A wound of the heart…the mind…the soul? You can’t put bandages on those kinds of wounds and more often than not, those wounds are the ones that take the longest to heal.

We’ve all had those kinds of wounds. The key is, what do you do with them?

From experience, let me tell you that if you are waiting for someone else to “heal” you ~ settle in. If you are waiting for the person who did the wounding to “make it better” ~ settle in. And if you are the one who is responsible for bringing hurt into your own life, you have to own up to that!

And if you don’t…

Settle in for a life of misery. Seriously! That is what you are asking for. And that misery is not the fault nor responsibility of the other person…that misery you bring it all on yourself.

When you decide to sit with your wounds open to the world, everything around you will cause that wound to sting. You don’t want to be around anyone who is happy, content, celebrating, joyous, or fulfilled. How dare they walk around with the a smile on their face when you are so miserable! And people who are sad, disappointed, angry, disillusioned, well, you don’t want to be around them either because they are taking away your spotlight of misery! You can’t win ~ and with a bitter attitude, you never will.

As you walk through your life with an open wound, you may develop a bit of a scab over it, but it’s still there. At any moment it can be reopened and the pain is deep. You feel the initial wound all over again.

The pain of the initial wound, when left untreated, only has one direction to travel…to the depths of your heart. You become irritable, untrusting, bitter, angry, and filled with rage. No one can get close enough to you to help the healing begin.

Oh my friend.

Stop.

Just.

Stop.

Proverbs 27:5-7 says, Better is an open reprimand [of loving correction] than love that is hidden. Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern],
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda].”

The enemy, the devil, satan, whatever you want to call him – all he wants to do is keep you in your misery. He wants you to miss out from all the good that God has planned for your life. He wants you to walk around feeling entitled to your wounded feelings. UGH! Satan loses in the end, well, he already has lost, he’s just prolonging the inevitable!

This is why it is so important to keep good friends in your life who will direct your gaze back to the Lord; back to the One who has your life in His hands. Jesus is a faithful friend to you as well.

It doesn’t mean that the healing process is going to be easy or fun. It’s gonna hurt! Cleaning a wound that has been left unattended…ugh!  Makes me cringe to think about it. But oh how worth it to live out your life with scars rather than open wounds.

Psalm 147:3-5 shows what the Lord does for us, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is inexhaustible [infinite, boundless].”

Remembering that Jesus lived as God and Man on this earth can bring comfort to your heart during the healing process. He is the only One who knows what it is to be wounded physically, emotionally, and mentally, AND be able to stop it in the blink of an eye. Yet He chose the opposite.

Jesus felt the pain from the death of a loved one.

Jesus felt the pressure that came from being hunted by those who wanted Him dead.

Jesus felt the betrayal of a friend.

Jesus felt the mental anguish from Satan who tried to lure Him into temptation.

Jesus felt the physical pain of beatings to horrific that He was practically unrecognizable as He hung on the cross.

Jesus felt the despair of taking upon all the sin of the whole world…all at once…from the beginning of time until He comes back to reign forever.

He has felt it all. His wounds were deep.

But He did not walk around defined by them.

He forgave.

And because He was able to forgive and become the “once and for all” wounded sacrifice on our behalf, the verses that were prophesied in Isaiah 61:1-3 were able to come true: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind  up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: to give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Whatever wound we have, whatever hurt you have been harboring, it is time to let it go! It’s not doing you any good to walk around with an open wound, bleeding on everyone when they inadvertently hit that tender spot.

The most difficult part of getting that wound cleaned out is to forgive {OUT LOUD} the person who hurt you. Stop giving them power of you and how you live your life! Out of that forgiveness comes a “oil of joy” and as it flows over that open wound in your heart, it begins to fill in the empty places. Over time, the wound heals, the tender spots dissipate, and the healing is complete.

It’s time to walk confidently in your healing. If you have a scar from it, go ahead and share about how the Lord healed you! There is no shame in scars. On the other hand, if you don’t have a scar you don’t have to prove to anyone what you have been healed from. Because, for by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24b)

Not sure where to start? Just ask the Lord to come in and begin the healing process. Reach out to a friend who can help you along the way. You have to allow the wound to be cleaned and trust that the momentary pain of healing will be worth it.

Walk in freedom.

Walk in healing.

It’s time to rejoice that you no longer live with open wounds!

Blessings,

René

Defined by healing not by your wounds

 

 

Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Count down to Launch…

“We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there,” ~ quote by Neil Armstrong character in the 2018 feature film, “First Man”.

What a powerful statement that was in the movie. If you’ve seen this one, or any of the films out there that tells the stories of the heroic measures taken by the USA astronauts, you know how important it is to prepare. 

Even for all the preparations they did on the ground, there still have been unseen catastrophic accidents in space. These astronauts train and plan for months and years, and still at times the outcome is not what anyone expects.

I can’t help but remember the devastating reality of watching the Challenger explode in the air shortly after take off. It didn’t seem real. Everyone had done their job. There was an elementary teacher on board. It was special. It was commemorative. It had been incredibly anticipated. But it had not ended well.

No one expected failure. 

Yet, there are so many successful missions that have occurred in our history of space exploration and there are more to come!

So where am I going with all of this you ask? It’s not going to be a history lesson…but one of hope as we launch a different kind of adventurer.

Our kids!

This is the time of year where graduations are upon us. Especially those with students graduating from high school, with the realities of college quickly approaching, we hear the term “launch” a lot!

Just as astronauts have to take classes to learn about space, science, medical procedures, various languages, microgravity (it’s a thing!), public speaking, math, survival training, buoyancy, mechanics, and about a million other things ~ our kids have to through a lot of training too.

We have to trust that when we launch them out into the world as new college Freshman, they will recall all that they have been taught in school, all the things we have instilled in them as they grew up, and all that they learned from God’s Word ~ and pray that the path they walk will be one of celebration and not failure.

I’ll share some great scriptures to pray over your kids in a bit, but I’m just fascinated with the similarities between launching a space craft and launching our kids to leave the proverbial nest.

According to the National Association of Rocketry Launching Requirements**, there are a million little things that go into those few moments of launching something into space. Here are a few of the most important categories.

You need:

  • a Range Safety officer who is in a Senior leadership position and must be in good standing with the NAR and their presence is a MUST for things to happen in a timely manner
  • the Flying Field needs (among other things) to have a definite set of boundaries
  • a Safety Check to make sure the rocket and all its parts are operational and deemed safe
  • the Launching Device is used to keep the rocket level until it has reached a safe speed after take off
  • specific Launch Height (not too close to the ground prior to lift off)
  • Momentum that comes from the rocket itself
  • and last but not least, Ignition ~ this can ONLY be conducted by REMOTE ACCESS a safe distance away from the rocket.

One of the instructions that caught my attention was this:

“All persons in the vicinity of any launching must be advised that a launching is imminent before a [model] rocket may be ignited or launched. A minimum five-second audible countdown must be given before ignition or launching of a [model] rocket.”

Are ya with me here as we transfer the images of a launching a rocket to that of “launching” our kids?

As parents, we are called by God to:

  • be the resident “Safety Officer”, where we can only lead our kids well while we remain in His presence as we venture forth in the raising of our children.
  • have a home-field where there are specific boundaries set up for each age and stage of growth our children encounter. Without boundaries, we don’t know where the kids are off to and our children don’t have any concept that they are expected to operate in the great big world out there with boundaries intact!
  • perform frequent safety checks ~ those might look like family bible study, prayer time, or good old-fashioned conversations. And when safety checks fail, there must be specific consequences to fix the problem…and they usually take longer than we anticipate to correct!
  • be a fixed point of consistency and focus so that when the first attempts at launching take place, we are there to assist at keeping our kids upright before the Lord and themselves.
  • be just close enough to step in should help be required, but far enough away to allow our kids to make mistakes and learn to figure out how to readjust.
  • light the fire in the hearts of each of our kids so they can see what God has created them for. We all have a purpose and you don’t have to wait until after college to figure this out. Each of our kids gifts and talents will grow, change, and mature through the years and we are the best cheerleaders in their lives to pray God’s clarity into their heart for what He has planned for them. {and prayer is the BEST momentum we can give our kids!}
  • LET GO!  The best way to successfully launch our kiddos into the world of college and beyond, is to do it from a distance.

Whew!  That’s a lot to take in but it’s all so worth it! Especially that last part! We do not do any favor to our children by making their path smooth for their entire life. That is NOT reality ~ and who do you think they will come back to blame when life doesn’t “go their way”?  The parents!

To the “lawnmower” or “snowplow” parent ~  STOP!! LET GO!! I say this in love to you…please let go and allow the Lord to help you navigate this crazy adventure called parenting.

It’s okay to let your kids fail…because failing at home while they are young is safe. Home is a safe place to land and a safe spot to figure out how to do better the next go around. And it’s really REALLY okay not to be your kids friend…be confident to BE the parent! That’s your job…the friendship comes later…and it’s oh so sweet!!

Re-read that quote from the first line and think about it in terms of raising your children: “We need to let our kids fail while they are still living at home so they don’t fail in dealing with reality after they leave the nest.”

Watching your children fail is NOT fun! But do you know how I know for sure we can handle, and they will survive it?

God loves us, His children, and we fail on the daily. But through His wise instruction and by us remaining in His presence, we learn how to do life better every day. He doesn’t ever give up on us when we take a misstep (or 1000). He’s always right there waiting to help us get back up on our feet and try again.

We can be that safe space for our kids too!

I didn’t always handle the “misfires” of my children’s youth with the grace and dexterity of spirit as I would have liked, but I know that with the Lord’s guidance {and loads of prayer!} my husband and I have raised three amazing young women who are setting the world on fire with the gifts and talents He has given them!

I still remember one of the hardest and best pieces of advice a mentor-mom gave me when our oldest daughter was just a few months old…and even now that she’s 25 and married, this phrase still makes me tear up…

She said, “You are raising up your children in order to let them go.”

What? I didn’t want to hear that!!! Seriously!!! But she was so very very right!

You don’t blow up a balloon just to watch it deflate. No, you carefully fill up that balloon with just the right amount, and let it go! Even if that little balloon gets tangled up, or loses altitude, or goes side-ways instead of up for a bit of time, it does rise. And it is a beautiful thing to watch.

Be confident as you prepare your littles for that inevitable day!

Be secure as you help your child pack up all the stuff they need and move them into their college dorm in the Fall.

You can do this! Watching your child become an adult is a beautiful kind of launch. And when they need it, they know how to get back to the launching pad to talk to the “resident safety officer” ~ and we can help lead them back to a secure take off once again.

Rockets aren’t meant to remain on the launching field ~ they are meant to soar!!

Blessings,

René

Earth Hour

 

 ~ Here’s a few of verses I told ya about to pray for your kiddos…no matter their age ~ 

Psalm 5:3 AMP “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].”

Psalm 87:1 AMP His foundation is on the holy mountain.

Psalm 21:4-7 AMP He asked life of You, And You gave it to him, Long life forever and evermore. His glory is great because of Your victory; Splendor and majesty You bestow upon him. For You make him most blessed [and a blessing] forever; You make him joyful with the joy of Your presence. For the king [confidently] trusts in the LORD, And through the lovingkindness (faithfulness, goodness) of the Most High he will never be shaken.”

Epehsians 4:1-3 AMP So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior–a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].”

I Corinthians 3:9-11 AMP For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

 

 **{Launching Requirements | National Association of Rocketry}

 

 

Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Are You Just a Tour Guide…

Recently, one of my daughters {who is a full time missionary} posted a video in her IG story with a poll question that went something like this…”Should I become a tour guide?”…as she showed people around the place where she works. I sent her a message back that said, “So what was the consensus? Tour guide or missionary?”

And then I got an idea for this blog post!

When we are sharing the Gospel, are we a tour guide? Or are we a missionary?

Think about the last time you went on a trip somewhere and hired a tour guide to show you the sites. Or you visit a friend who lives in a different state and they want to take you to “all the good spots.”

We’ve had this experience a few times and it’s always been amazing! But what do you see on a tour? You see all the special things, the highlights of the location you are visiting, you enjoy a special meal at a local restaurant, you see the places that make you think “you’ll never be here again so take the picture”, and so on. What you usually don’t see are the rough spots in town, the dangerous places, or the “I won’t be writing home about that” kind of places.

No matter where you are in the world, or what kind of tour you are on, where does the tour ALWAYS end? Yep…in the souvenir shop! Literally every tour, or even most rides at Disneyland for that matter, end up in the gift shop. You want a souvenir to remember your trip. You want to bring home a little trinket for your kids and hope they like it even though they would’ve rather been on the trip with you {lol! all time time!}

When you get home, you place your souvenir on a shelf or maybe it’s a piece of jewelry you wear on special occasions. But eventually it becomes a fuzzy memory of good times gone by.

Is this how you share the Gospel?

Do you get excited about something God has shown you in scripture, something that will bless your life, something that “sparks joy”, and you want to share it with someone? So you meet up with a friend for coffee and share all the fantastic details of this newly found joy in your life and how great it makes you feel…only to end the conversation without sharing the hard stuff in your life that makes the joy you have tangible? Do you leave them with just a trinket?

Now, I’m not saying at all that we have to walk around with our proverbial dirty laundry for all to see. That’s not what the Lord wants either.

We’ve got to get rid of the stigma of what we think it means to be a missionary because as followers of Christ, we are ALL called to be missionaries. A missionary isn’t just a job for a few people.

A missionary is literally “a person who is sent on a mission.”** In the New Testament, when Jesus was commissioning the Disciples, we see in Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus did not intend for those 12 disciples to be the only ones who would share the good news of His salvation.

While Jesus was still on the earth, and after commissioning the 12, Luke 10:1-3 shares this about Jesus commissioning 70 more saying, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Go your way; listen carefully: I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. ” 

Everywhere we go, we are to be missionaries of the gospel ~ as followers of Christ, He calls us to be sent out on a mission to tell people about the freedom that comes with salvation in Christ.

Yes, some our called to be missionaries that will go out into unreached people groups and to far off countries.

But we have ALL been called to share the gospel.

And not just the warm fuzzy parts. 

Did you notice that last verse that I shared from Luke? We are knowingly going out into the world “like lambs among wolves.” That’s why we need to be in community with other believers and why we need to cling to the Word of God to lead us as we go about our day.

If you’re a new momma at home with little ones, you’re thinking, “Oh great. I can barely get through a day without someone spitting up or peeing on me, and now I’m supposed to go preach the gospel to the world!!” Dear momma, you are exactly living in the mission field you are supposed to be in. Your home is the first place you can preach the good news. I can remember those days where I felt like I was the lone survivor simply battling to get everyone fed, bathed, and into bed at a decent hour. {Okay, sometimes baths didn’t always happen…especially in the summer…that’s what sprinklers and pool time is for!}

But trust me, you are right where the Lord wants you to be. New seasons of life will spring up as your children grow and mature and yes, eventually move out. I survived that and you will too. And might I say, it’s actually pretty fun to have adult children!  My daughters and my son-in-law are pretty cool people in my life!

We are all missionaries ~ God calls us to share the truth of the Gospel mixed in with the truth of how He has moved in and through our life. Our life is a testimony of the millions of believers who have gone before us…starting with those 12 disciples who chose to be obedient to the call of preaching the good news.

We are not called to be tour guides who only show the “Highlight Reel” to the people around us. 

I don’t want to sound cliché here, but truly, everywhere we go is our mission field. There are people around you who have only heard the name of Jesus used in a profane way. How awesome it can be to show those in your sphere of influence, who Jesus is to you. Of course, sharing the joys of what it means to be saved and have everlasting life with Jesus is a must! But even more important is to share with others, the joy you choose to have EVEN WHEN life doesn’t seem fair.

Jesus is not a genie in a bottle or a tour guide with the bright orange flag leading you down a delightful path of all the wonders of the world.

Being created in His image…that means we aren’t tour guides either.

We are made to be in relationship with Him and through that we can show other people the way to Jesus; the way of salvation. We have a mission {“an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation” **} to lead people into the knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done for the world and for us personally.

To put it plainly ~ Your story is your mission. Only you can tell your story. God created you to be able to lead others in ways unique only to you. Whether in your family, your neighborhood, your kids’ schools, in third-world countries, or in bustling cities of fortune….you absolutely have something that everyone needs…you have the gift of salvation and you are called to give that away!

Tour guides are hired by the hour to put on a show and lead you to all the pretty places. Missionaries live boldly every minute of every day for the Lord no matter what that means. How do you want to be known?

Live out loud for Him every day…not just on the days where life looks pretty and ready for your Instagram close up.

Be real. Be authentic. Be truthful. 

Choose obedience. Choose joy. Choose to be transformed.

And watch what the Lord can do with a willing heart!

Blessings,

René

tour guide or missionary

 

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/missionary?s=t

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/mission?s=t

 

 

 

 

Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Do we understand blessings…

What does it really mean to be blessed by God? I’ve been thinking about this a lot since one of our church members taught in our class on Sunday. She had us shout out what we were thankful for…what we felt was a blessing in our life.

You guessed it…no one shouted out any hardships!  So easily we see hardships as an inconvenience, an interruption, something done to us instead of for us, something that is flat out hard to deal with! But there really are blessings in all of that!

I was struck by the Amplified Bible version of the Beattitudes in Matthew 5. I simply love the verbiage of this translation. As I study, it helps me to put new perspective, particularly verses I’ve read many many many times before. Each time the word ‘blessed’ is used, the amplified version describes that blessing in a unique way. I think it’s quite impactful and hope you do too!

So thank you for letting me share my heart with you today through these verses in Matthew 5:3-12…

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

  • When I focus on the Lord, leaning on Him for knowledge and guidance, I will more clearly see the path He has created for us to join in Him in heaven one day.

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

  • Not that I will live a sinless life, but when I admit my sins and ask the Father for forgiveness, He is so good to do that and to blot out any record of it! Even though I’ve known the Lord as my Savior for over 40 years now, this gift still amazes me!

“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

  • Beginning each day with a soft heart toward the things of God, with a clear mind to receive instructions from His Word ~ this is what makes it easier day by day to walk in peace with myself, with the Lord, and with the people around me.

“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

  • Yes!! I want to live fully satisfied with all God allows in my life ~ the happy times and the struggles….they all happen for a reason. Oh to be “nourished by God’s goodness” ~ who doesn’t want that!  Truth is the best way to satiate the soul!!

“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

  • Those moments when I am tempted to withhold grace and mercy from someone, the Holy Spirit is tender to remind me that I wake up with renewed grace and mercy from the Father in Heaven…the God of all Creation. Since He gives me those gifts so freely, how can I not extend the same gifts to others!

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.

  • Are you experiencing a time in your life that you don’t feel close to God? You aren’t hearing Him like you used to? The devil will tempt us to believe that God has turned His back on us…oh friend…fight that lie! When we feel distance with the Lord, we are the ones who have walked away. Return to a desire to live with godly character and seek spiritual guidance and you will dwell in a rush of the Father’s love for you…because it never went away!

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.

  • Whoa!  Yes!! “Spiritually calm with life-joy” ~ oh a 1000x yes!! When we rest in God’s goodness and have an unshakeable faith that our day, our month, our life for that matter will turn out good for us, that is when we are settled into peace and will be able to exude the character of Christ through our life.

10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

  • Standing firm in your biblical and spiritually sound beliefs against the attitude of the world, is never going to be easy. Being mocked by others because you believe what the Bible says is true, is painful but it serves a purpose. Knowing how to share the truth of God’s Word without compromise, but also with love from God, is a treasure. Those who are truly searching will seek out the spiritual treasure you hold in your heart; those who believe the lies that they are “good enough” won’t.

11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me.

  • These are qualities I desire to have in my life ~ to be morally courageous and spiritually alive! Having those two attributes in my life {and when I remember I have them!} will make the flaming arrows of lies and persecution easier to deal with. It doesn’t mean that the arrows and barbs won’t hit us, or penetrate the flesh of our heart. It means that those wounds won’t last and they won’t determine our identity!  Amen!! The devil absolutely hates our battle scars, but we are fighting already FROM a place of victory because of Jesus!!  Remember that!!

12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

One of the beautiful reminders I received from reading through this translation is that a blessing from the Lord rarely, if ever, refers to something earthly ~ there is nothing temporal or financial referred to here in these verses.

The so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ does not exist. You will never find proof of that in God’s Word and I’m fully convinced of that. Our rewards are in heaven. Our worst day here on earth, as followers of Christ, will not follow us to our Heavenly home. This is why we cannot be jealous or strive after earthly riches like those who do not serve the Lord. Sadly, by choosing to live their life here on earth without Jesus as their Savior, they will live their eternal life separated from Him as well. This concept is harsh to many, but think of what Christ did for us dying on the cross and all that He suffered in the days leading up to His crucifixion. We will never be “good enough” to enter into Heaven on our own…if we were, then the death and resurrection of Christ was for nothing…and I believe in ALL that He did to bring us back into reconciliation with Him!

Being on the receiving end of God’s blessings is all about how we live for Him; how we are growing into His image; how we can bless others with sharing the gospel; and how we can emanate the glory of God and the impact of the Living Word to those around us in our sphere of influence.

Be blessed today ~ filled with all the life-joy that God’s goodness brings!

Blessings,

René

Let the Blessings flow!

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

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…Part 3

Hey there ~ welcome to Part 3 of sharing God’s Truth without compromise. I’m transitioning into what it looks like to dig into God’s Word in the church. Just because we are within the church, doesn’t mean we all are in agreement about the Word of God. And that is truly a sad state for the Christian church. We have become too busy deciding what “our truth” is that so many have thrown out the idea that God’s Word is absolutely WITHOUT ERROR.

John Piper wrote this, “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”

Read that first sentence again…
“My feelings are not God.”

Feelings and emotions are given to us by God by they were never meant to determine or decide what is true or not regarding the biblical truths set by God from the before the beginning of time.

The dictionary defines feelings as, “the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc; FEELING is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensations: to be guided by feeling rather than by facts”

And emotions as, “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling.”

This is why we cannot view the Bible and interpret what God’s laws and precepts look like against our own personal intellect.

Everyone who just sat in the main morning service, hearing the same message, has most likely “heard” something a bit different from everyone else. This is because we are taking in the words that have been taught and have sifted the words through how they are feeling this morning.

There are so many distractions from being tired, upset with a family member or friend, how “so and so” should be hearing this message, being too hot or too cold, and a whole host of other feelings an emotions that affect how we discern the message of what the Pastor, speaker, or worship leader intended for the message to be.

But here’s the difference, the interpretations of a message on a Sunday morning between congregants is all coming from a human standpoint.

The message of God’s Word is His Word…the inerrant word of God…the Living Word of God cannot be changed. There are definitely feelings and emotions that are woven through every single word of scripture…but they are God’s feelings and emotions. Yes, He has a lot of them…He created us to have them too.

But ours can be fallible, His never will be.

Because He is God, He knew we would struggle with this and so He left us a map of how to navigate our feelings and emotions.

I think most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5-6, but let’s read a few more verses that surround those two verses, beginning with verse 1 – 8:  The Rewards of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:1-8
“1 My son, do not forget my [a]teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life [worth living] And tranquility and prosperity [the wholeness of life’s blessings] they will add to you. 3 Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. 8 It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] and refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones. There is absolutely nothing negative about believing in, trusting in, holding tight to, the obedience to the commandments of the Lord. We will always be in the “winning” side; we will always walk in victory when we cling to the Truth and goodness of the Lord.”

Enter in all the denominations and beliefs that are in full swing around the world.

According to calculations found via Google by: Paohow Popchavei, in August 27 2018 says: “Today there are some 4,300 religions of the world’s, this is according to adherent, an independent, non-religiously, affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world religions. Side stepping the issue of what constitutes a religious adherent divides religions into Churches, Denominations, Congregation, Religion bodies, Faith group, Tribes, Cultures, and movements.”

Here are some 20 largest religions and their number of believers.

1: Christianity (2.2 billion)
2: Islam (1.5 billion)
3: Nonreligious ( Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.2 billion)
4: Hinduism (1.1 billion )
5: Buddhism ( 535 million)
6: Chinese tradition religion ( 394 million)
7: Primal indigenous (300 million)
8: African tradition & diaspora (100 million)
9: Sikhism (30 million)
10: Juche (19 million)
11: Spiritism (15 million)
12: Judaism (14 million)
13: Bahai (7 million)
14: Jainism (4.2 million)
15: Shirito (4 million)
16: Cao Dai (4 million)
17: Zoraostrianism (2.6 million)
18: Tenrikyo (2 million)
19: Neo paganism (1 million)
20: Unitarian universalism ( 800,000)

All those religions are man makes, tomorrow there will be 5,000 religions or maybe more, so whichever people belief all are similar ideology, because humanity are one root and one destiny.
(https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-religions-are-there-in-the-world)

Now, within Christianity, there are at least a good 20, various denominations that splinter off from a main foundation of Christianity.

We cannot take out the parts of the Bible that we are uncomfortable with or that is not socially popular.

God’s commandments were not really comfortable or popular for that matter when He first breathed them into reality. Jesus said that we would be persecuted because of our belief in Him. And we are. Constantly.

I’m not saying that being a part of a certain denomination with the true Christian church is bad; the sticky part comes in as to why that denomination is formed to begin with. This is where the battle of being non-compromising within the Christian church comes from.

Whatever the denomination, whatever the church, whatever community you are connected with, there are ways to figure out if they are Bible-believing and God-fearing people.

*******************************************************************************

God’s Word is True.

God’s Word is without error.

It’s really that simple.

 

Blessings,

René