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

Clean your sword…

Clean Your Sword blog - Battle Ready text

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

Have you ever heard this phrase? It’s usually referenced in terms of battle field protocol. After the battle was over, the soldiers were required to clean their sword before putting it away. This is practical and necessary. Not only would it be super gross to put away a dirty sword, the soldier would not be able to use that sword in the next battle. They would not be able to draw their swords quickly because they’d be stuck in their holders. The swords would not be able to do the job the soldier needed them to do because the blades would be dull and corroded. All the debris from battle would have gotten crusty and probably would’ve smelled awful too. Sorry for the imagery here, but it’s true.

I mean, you have to clean all your knives after you cook so that the utensils will be put away clean and ready to prep all you’re cooking the next time you’re getting dinner ready.

This past week at church, I sat in on a really fun class at church that is beginning to go through The Chronicles of Narnia and the spiritual connections between that series and the Bible. There was part of the story in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, where Aslan tells Edmund to clean his sword. It was such a pivotal moment in the book for Edmund and the brief conversation we had in class about this has definitely lingered in my brain this week.

It immediately had my mind racing with biblical imagery of battle. In God’s wisdom, and when the people were following Him with obedient hearts, the battle was always victorious! So many battles that the people prepared to fight in didn’t even have to raise their swords at all. In these battles of the Old Testament, the Lord was showing His people the true reality of wars in the spiritual realms. But there were also times that the people didn’t listen, taking matters into their own ‘capable’ hands and those battles were usually always lost.

If you are familiar with the book of Ephesians in the Bible, then you know there is a whole section dedicated to equipping the Christian for spiritual warfare. Before I go there, the Bible references swords a little over 400 times. All to do with battle of course.

Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Why does a sword need to be double-edged you may wonder? Well, when a soldier is adept at using their sword, they are able to wield it with such power that whether they hit from the left or the right, the sword will find its target every time and win. This is why the author of Hebrews uses this visual, comparing the Bible to a double-edged sword.

But how are we as warriors in the spiritual realm wield the Bible properly as a “two-edged sword”? In short, very carefully.

There are plenty out there who unfortunately use God’s Word to bring shame, disgrace, and defeat to those they deem inferior. Oh friend, if you have ever had someone use God’s Word to make you feel less than, please accept my apology on their behalf. Please believe and know that every scripture in the Bible is meant to draw us closer to the One who created each of us. Are there verses that deal with hard things like sin, obedience, disobedience, purity, and ways to live our life? Absolutely! But they are not there to make you feel like a worm.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you to let you know how truly LOVED you are by Him!

In Ephesians 6:10-17, we read a beautiful portion of scripture called The Armor of God:

The Armor of God

10 “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having[b]tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having [c]strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] [d]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

In these short 8 verses, we see the perfect and complete description of what we need to do in our life today to be fully prepared to do battle. Whether that battle is in a hard conversation you have to have with someone, in disciplining one of your children, in decision-making times in your life, and of course in the spiritual realm.

God doesn’t say anywhere in the above scriptures, “Hey, if you’re tired or just feeling out of it, you can just pick the piece of armor you want to put on for the day and you’ll be good.” NO WAY!

Can you imagine actually going into a physical battle and deciding, “I’m just too tired to get ready. I’m having a great hair day and the helmet is totally gonna mess that up. Oh, and that shield is really heavy so I’ll give myself a rest today and grab it tomorrow.”

That would be ludicrous ~ and it would bring certain death!

So why do we as Believers do that to ourselves all the time?!?!?!

God tells us to be completely dressed in His armor so that we can successfully win the battle against us! These six pieces of God’s armor are all needed:

  • The belt of Truth
  • The breastplate of Righteousness
  • The ‘shoes’ of Peace
  • The shield of Faith
  • The helmet of Salvation
  • The sword of the Spirit

When we secure the truth of scripture around us, choosing to live rightly before God, walk in a way that brings peace to all situations, protecting our hearts with a deep faith in what God says about us and about who He is, keeping our minds clear and focused on the One who saved us from spiritual death, and properly utilizing God’s Word; then and only then are we truly prepared for battle.

It means that every day before we go to sleep, we must take care of our armor so that it’s ready for us to put on the next day. If we have battled, we must go before the Lord and have Him help us clean away the debris of the day. As the visual God gives us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, how do we ‘clean’ that sword? This kind of stumped me for a minute and I asked God to show me what that means.

The Lord gave me a picture of a beautiful bible sitting on a coffee table, but that’s the extent of its use. It was simply decorative. The owner loved the bible enough to show all who entered that they had one but they had no idea what was inside.

We keep the ‘sword of the Spirit’ clean when we open it and do not let it collect dust or be on show for others to see. What’s important is the love letter that is inside for us to read and allow to permeate our heart, mind, and soul.

So, when you have those days, because we all do, where it seems like nothing is going right and everyone is against us…take a quick look at what you are ‘wearing’.

Did you try to go into battle on your own? Did we pick and choose what part of God’s armor to wear that day? Or worse yet, did we run out of the house spiritually naked? Yikes! Trust me, this is as much for me as it is for you that are reading this.

God does not waste words because His words bring life. 

Today, I would like to encourage you to allow God’s good Word to breathe life back into your soul today. Whatever battle you have been fighting, STOP! Take a pause to get dressed for battle and if you are weary, ask the Lord to help you put on His armor. The Lord’s armor is not too heavy ~ it is for your protection.

And remember, when the battle is done, clean your sword, shake off the dust of war, and trust that your Commander-in-Chief will take the night-watch for you!

Blessings,

René

 

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

Closer than you think…

Closer than you think - blog with text

The promises of God are closer than we think.

More often than not, we have to fully give our dreams and hopes back to God and trust that He will sustain us and bring them to fruition in His perfect timing.

Reading through the book of Ruth, it could seem at first glance that life for Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi was destined for brokenness. But when you dig deeper and really look at all they went through, you see the perfect picture of redemption, healing, and promises fulfilled.

Check out these verses with me in Ruth 4:4-6, 12, 17, and 22 {AMP}

“So I thought to let you hear of it, saying, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, then tell me, so that I may know; for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I am [next of kin] after you.’ “And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day that you buy the filed from Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, to restore the name of the deceased to his inheritance.” The closest relative (redeemer) said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because [by marrying a Moabitess] I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption (purchase) yourself, because I cannot redeem it.”

Further, may hour house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son (grandson) has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed (worshiper). He is the father of Jesse, the father of David [the ancestor of Jesus Christ].

Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David [the king of Israel and the ancestor of Jesus Christ].”

If you aren’t familiar with the book of Ruth, I would definitely recommend you taking a few moments to read it the four chapters. The significance of these verses above are a culmination of Ruth and Naomi (both widows) being provided for and taken care of; essentially being saved from a life of poverty and despair.

In the midst of Naomi’s sadness, she knew the only thing left to do was to go back to her people. Even with this plan, she had zero confidence that the town would accept her back into the community.

As someone who has moved 14 times since getting married in 1990, it’s never easy. It’s a strange mixture of excitement and pure terror! Dealing with all the new things ~ neighbors, grocery store, restaurants, different ways to get to church, work, or the kids’ schools. All the things!

But Naomi made sure that everyone knew that she knew, her life had changed. And not for the better. She tells everyone in Ruth 1:20,

“She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (sweetness); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has caused me great grief and bitterness.”

Thankfully I’ve never moved with that kind of greeting to new neighbors!”

Even though Naomi was beyond distressed, she obeyed the whisper in her heart and moved back to her people. That first step of obedience brought her to the next one and the next one and the one after that. Good things began happening for her and Ruth.

In the passage I shared at the beginning of this blog tells a brief story of how Ruth came to be able to marry Boaz. Prior to this gathering of town folks, it is clear in scripture that Boaz was enamored with Ruth. There is an age gap, and he was a man of great authority in the community, so this meant that he had to remain above reproach. There were enough signs of his affection to encourage Naomi to tell Ruth how to let Boaz know she would return his affection. Even so, there were still hurdles.

Naomi and Ruth could’ve chosen to fall full force into despair and doubt, but they remembered that they served a mighty God.

Can you imagine the tension though at that town meeting? Boaz and Ruth wanted to be together but they had to go through the proper channels. Too long to go into {so yeah…go read Ruth!} but these two decided to trust the Lord that there would be a good plan for them.

And indeed, there was! This next step of obedience on all the parts of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz brought the world one step closer to the celebration of Jesus being born.

The birth of the Savior of the world was closer than they knew.

It would take seven more generations before Jesus was born, but His lineage was written by God since before time. {In all, from Abraham to David was 14 generations.*}

What is that thing you are waiting for? Anticipating? Dreading?

The Christmas and New Years’ seasons are full of so many different emotions for so many of us. As you read this, I’m sure there is a lot going on in your life and in the lives of those around you.

Waiting is hard.

Moving is not comfortable.

Change is not always what we want.

But God…

He will not let you fall.

He will not abandon you.

He simply calls you to take the next obedient step. Then the next one and the one after that. The answer to what you are questioning is most likely closer than you think. It also will most likely not come when you want it to come, but it will unfold at just the right time for you.

Especially as we have a new decade beginning ~ 2020 ~ it’s a perfect season to seek God and find out what He has for you. Spend time in prayer, reading the Word, and reflecting on what He says, and you will not be disappointed.

Be patient, defeat the temptation to become bitter, invest your heart in trusting God’s goodness for your life.

My prayer for you today and always is to remember that Jesus is closer to your heart than you might think. Trust Him.

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

‭‭Ruth‬ ‭4:4-6, 12, 17, 22‬ ‭AMP‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1588/rut.4.4-6,12,17,22.amp

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen; from David to the Babylonian deportation (exile), fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian deportation to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭AMP‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1588/mat.1.17.amp

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

…And at the Right Time…

For most things we get in life, they are preceded by a time of waiting. It can be as simple as waiting for a tray of chocolate cookies to bake to gooey perfection, or as difficult as waiting for a health diagnosis to come in. And so many experiences in between.

I remember when we were getting ready to have our first child, we immediately were trying to figure out when the baby would be born. We were off a little bit according to the doctor, but we had our due date! I was beyond excited ~ not to be pregnant all summer long, but that faded in the dreams of that little one arriving. At our check-up the following month, I was devastated to find out the due date had changed. I was now told I’d not be delivering for another ten days. I cried all the way home, which completely baffled my husband.

He lovingly reminded me that just as God had allowed me to become pregnant, He also knew the exact day and time of her birth. It wasn’t in my control. It was all in His perfect timing! Thankfully I listened and changed my attitude…because that baby girl arrived TEN days after my due date! And it was of course, in the Lord’s perfect timing.

It’s so great to know that we can learn from the best when it comes to waiting for the right time!

1 Timothy 2:5-6 AMP gives us the example about Jesus. He was God and man for his whole life. Yet, Jesus paid attention the Father as to when it was the right time to reveal Himself as our Savior that had come to rule and reign. Because Jesus was so in tune with the Father, He was ready for the time when it came for Him to complete His task on the earth and become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  These verses read:

“For there is [only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus,” who gave Himself as a ransom [a substitutionary sacrifice to atone] for all, the testimony given at the right and proper time.”

It wasn’t just the right time. It was the proper time. There was not a minute that came too early or moment that lasted too long. It was perfect.

You might be thinking, well of course it was perfect…it’s Jesus…there’s no way I can get to that level.  And guess what, you’re right! But that’s part of the reason Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross. Yes, it was to bring us into a reconciled relationship with Jesus but it was also to send us the gift of the Comforter ~ the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26-28 tells us this:

“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”

There are so many beautiful nuggets of truth and promise in these verses…go ahead and read them again. What do you feel the Lord is whispering to your heart right now? What prayers are lingering there? What plans are you fretting over? Are you dealing with a situation that no one else knows about? Oh, my friend, especially that last one ~ Satan wants you to feel that you are all alone but that is a LIE! As a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit has made His home in your heart and soul and mind. He is with you ~ you are NEVER alone! Yes!  The same God that spoke the universe into reality, is the same God who gives you the power and strength to make it through the most difficult of circumstances.

When you don’t even know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is there on your behalf. I can recall a few times in my life where the pain in my heart was so deep, I thought I’d never recover. The sobbing was so intense and unending that I couldn’t even form the words to pray and ask God to help me. That is right when, at the perfect timing, the Holy Spirit comes in to minister to us and go before God with the groanings of our spirit. When those tearful experiences were over, what was left was a peace that I could not explain except to know that the Lord had truly taken care of my heart at that moment.

So, whatever you have going on in your life right now, and as hard at may seem in the moment, trust that God sees you. He hears you. And He will answer you in just the right and proper time.

And if you are coming to Jesus for the first time today, welcome! Praise the Lord that you have chosen to allow the Lord to reign in your heart. I’d love to encourage you too to find someone in your local community to walk alongside you in this new adventure of following Jesus! God bless you!!

Blessings,

René

At just the right time - blog post

Photo by Stefanos Kogkas on Unsplash 

 

‬‬

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

Weaponized Prayer…

“Weaponized Christianity” ~ This phrase has been spoken about quite a bit in the news lately, because of various outspoken people who also hold public office. There are a ton of Christians coming out against some of these people saying that their public prayers/actions are unbiblical and that they are “offensive to everyone”, Christians and non-Christians alike.
But the statement that pops out to me the most is with the phrase, ‘weaponized prayer’.
But isn’t that what prayer is supposed to be?
Prayer is THE weapon to fight EVERY spiritual battle.
A battle entails weapons and we have to have the right weapons to fight a battle. To fight a spiritual battle we must be fully dressed in the FULL armor of God.
The famous phrase from one of my all time favorite movies, Princess Bride, comes to mind here: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
To weaponize means: to supply or equip with a weapon or weapons; 
to develop for use as a weapon. 
A weapon is: any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat, fighting, or war, as a sword, rifle, or cannon. 
When facing any kind of battle, be it physical or spiritual, there can be a good amount of fear or hesitation. John 14:1 is a beautiful encouragement as we prepare to engage in battle.  “”Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.”
As followers of Christ, we need to stand firm and not be intimidated by how the world says we should act. The world (and even some Christians) says that we shouldn’t be specific in stating our biblical beliefs and spiritual perspectives. That we shouldn’t run the risk of offending people by talking about Jesus. That we need to be inclusive of how everyone chooses to live and keep our ideas to our self.
It is truly not a surprise to me anymore that people simply come undone at the mention of the Name of Jesus! We all should! It has more power than we even have the ability to comprehend.
But let’s get back to the idea of weaponizing prayer!  Come on!!!  This is exactly what we do every time we are obedient to put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6 gives us the tools that we need to be equipped to fight the spiritual battles arounds us and prayer is the supply chain leading us to the One who gives us the ability to attack our enemy, the Devil.
PEOPLE ARE NOT THE ENEMY!!  THE DEVIL IS THE ENEMY!!
There are so many people saying how Christ came to unite and not to divide. And I do not think there is actually anything biblical about that statement. The only unification that Christ came to bring was to unify a fallen world back to Him.
In the verse below, we see how absolute Jesus was about what we need to do to be saved. He does not talk about a variety of divergent paths that all lead to one single destination. His word does not encourage the reader to “find their own truth.” He is extremely clear on the ONE path to salvation ~ John 14:6, in Jesus’ own words make an incredibly strong statement. Just one of the many times He spoke truth in love, “Jesus said to him, “ I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.””
He came and died and rose again so that we would be reconciled back to Him. In doing so, He gave us the freedom to either choose Him and His way of salvation or not to choose Him and end up being eternally separated from Him.
Essentially, we are given the choice to divide ourselves out of His presence by not submitting to His plan of salvation. When Jesus was on the earth, He was absolutely the most divisive figure in history. And I think He still is.
He was divisive because He challenged people to lay down their own desires and their own ideas of how they thought life should be and choose to follow Him. To surrender ourselves to Him is to separate ourselves from the selfishness that a sin-nature brings out in people. In this way, Jesus was so divisive that people of that day, chose to have Barabbas (an extremely violent felon who had committed murder; Mark 15:7-15) saved from death on the cross and instead put Jesus there.
They wanted to crucify Jesus because he told the truth
and people couldn’t handle the truth.
We haven’t come too far from those people, have we?
Back in Ephesians 6, I counted all the words that even remotely have to do with weapons/weaponizing, and found at least 22 (depending on your Bible translation, you might find more):
* be strong  * strength  * be empowered  * power  * boundless might  * armor 
* heavily-armed  * stand up against  * struggle  * successfully resist  * stand your ground  * stand firm  * fully prepared  * immovable  * victorious  * face the enemy  * firm-footed stability  * protective shield  * extinguish flaming arrows  * sword 
* stay alert  * interceding
Here’s the key to all of these action words regarding our battle and the weapons we have ~ they are all found in the Lord. They are not found within us naturally. Ephesians 6:10 says, “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.”
Only through our union with Him, our obedience to follow His path for our life, and our determination to fight the spiritual battles that come our way alongside the Lord, will we be able to walk through this life victorious.
{If you have never read through Ephesians 6, especially verses 10-20,
please take a moment to do that today ~ it’s totally worth it!!}
As a follower of Jesus Christ, yes we are called to speak truth in love, and to love our neighbor as our self, to show kindness and grace to those around us. But we are absolutely called to be warriors for the Kingdom. And it is absolutely possible to battle lovingly! Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that the battle is a spiritual one ~ and believe me from my own experience…spiritual battles are real…they are no joke! That’s why we have to be aware!!
Just as we are not to use prayer as a disguise for gossip, we are not to use prayer against others. Ephesians 6: 18 instructs this, “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”
Stand firm in the faith of your salvation to speak God’s truth. Use the spiritual weapons we have been given through the Holy Spirit, and He will absolutely lead you into the battles that are yours to fight. And when you are tempted to back-bite against other Christians, check yourself, check scripture, pray about it…and more than likely, you will end up not speaking out. Remember, the battles we fight the most are spiritual. And what better way for the Devil to cause Christians to be divided against each other but to have us go to war with each other.
As Paul states in Ephesians 6:19-20, and it should be the same prayer for all of us, “And pray for me, that words may be given to me when I open my mouth, to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news [of salvation], for which I am an ambassador in chains. And pray that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly and courageously, as I should.”
Blessings to you for boldness as you use your spiritual weapons responsibly!
~ René

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

Don’t pay for the Fancy Water…

On our recent trip to China {totally love that I am able to tag along with Tony on his business trips} I noticed something at each of the hotels, each room we were in had at least two free 16oz. bottles of water. With tags or coasters that encouraged the guests to take the water with various sayings…”stay hydrated” ~ “water is life” ~ “hydrate your mind”.  Although they offered these free water bottles, that  by the way, were replenished daily whether the original bottles had been drank or not, there was also one illustrious extra-large bottle of “fancy water” – a well known name brand.  But that one you would have to pay for.

So each day, the guests have to choose – drink the free water or pay a ridiculous amount of money for the name brand water.

Hey, I was just excited that all of these hotels offered the choice…and yes, I’ll take the free water. Every. Day.

Once we arrived at our 3rd hotel, and the free bottles of water continued to appear, I couldn’t help but think about the life-giving water that we are freely offered by Jesus.

How often have I gone for “the fancy water” & by-passed what the Lord is offering to me as a gift?

So what do I exactly mean by “fancy water”?

I want to be very clear here that the examples I’m about to give are NOT bad or wrong…it’s just that sometimes we place a higher level of dedication and interest in the name brand stuff.

When an author comes out with a new book, I’m clicking on amazon to buy it faster than I should. {Seriously…if y’all are interested in reading/studying just about any Christian book/devotional/study that’s been released in the last ten years, I’m sure I have it & I’ll let ya borrow it!} Sometimes I make myself stop & simply place it in my “book list” for a future purchase.

  • I’m on email lists for online bible studies and daily/weekly devotional.
  • I’m in several different bible study groups on Facebook.
  • I follow a myriad of amazingly gifted & talented speakers, authors, and singers.

All of these things are good.  All of these groups are beneficial to my spiritual growth. All of these people speak/share scriptural wisdom, and are also vulnerable enough to share with thousands of strangers via their insta-stories, what God is helping them work through in their life at the moment.

However…..

When I count on scrolling through social media to get my fill of God’s word through inspirational quotes, meaningful scripture verses, or heartfelt stories ~ I’m drinking the fancy water. 

But wait you say…social media is free! 

Yes ~ but I’m paying with my time.

I’m paying with “quick fix” mind set. 

Let’s be real, if someone were to ask you at the end of the day what the most inspirational post you “liked” that morning was…would you be able to answer them? I know most of the time I couldn’t. I might remember the basic gist of a few but not word for word.

John 4:10, “Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”

So what’s the “free water”?

It’s Jesus. It’s Him as the Living Word. It’s Him as the fountain of Living Water.  

It’s Jesus. The One with whom we will never thirst again.

When I spend my time reading the Bible ~ apart from bible study time ~ and truly dig in deep asking God to reveal to me what I am to learn that day about His character, then I am truly refreshed. 

The best moments of reading my Bible come when I am searching to know more of who God is and not “what’s in this for me” mode.  The more I know about God, about the Bible, about the story of the Bible…the more that God will reveal to me about who He wants me to be…who He has created me to be for Him.

The Living Water Jesus freely offers to us came at a great price.

It is free to us because we can never {like. Ever. Ever. Not. Ever.} come close to living a life that would earn our way to eternity. Jesus died on the cross, along with all our sin, and rose again so that we could have the gift of bring free of the death that sin brings…the permanent separation from Him will not happen to those who receive the free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ. 

John 7:38, “ The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”

Read your books.

Attend bible studies in your church or online.

Follow your fave people on social media.

Just don’t stop there. 

Actually, don’t start there either.

I’m guilty of this more often than not, so this blog is for me just as much {or more!} than maybe for you. I honestly appreciate the time you have given to read along with my musings of the day. 

Stay hydrated with the Water of Life and your heart and mind will be hydrated as well.  Enjoy the time you spend with  the Lord, praying & reading scripture.

You will come away refreshed without one iota of regret for the time spent with your free water. I promise!

Blessings,

René

John 7 verse 38

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Becoming UNentitled…

As I sit at my desk, on the cusp of a New Year, there are many thoughts rushing through my mind.

Will I make New Year’s Resolutions?  Will I keep those resolutions?  Should I not make any resolutions?  Do I really have to make any just because it’s “the thing” to do?  Oy vey!

So I’ve decided NOT to make any resolutions ~ I have decided to make an intentional decision to become UNentitled.

Entitlement is a word that is thrown around a lot these days.  Especially in terms of the younger generation of teens and early 20-somethings.  Here’s a shocker for you though…we all of bits of entitlement strewn around our life.  And it’s time to pick them up and get rid of all of it!

Just in case you are curious as to whether or not you walk around with any entitled attitudes, let’s start with my favorite thing to do ~ word study!  To give this little exercise a bit more gravity, insert the word “yourself” in place of  “a person”…if  you really want the impact, read the definition out loud.

Here we go…According to the dictionary, ‘entitle’ or ‘entitlement’ means: 1. to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim.  2. to give (a person) the right to do or have something; qualify; allow.

Still don’t see it?  How about this…have you ever said any one (or more) of the following:

*It’s my right to be upset.  That person cut me off on the freeway.

*It’s my right to be offended.  She was rude to me.

*I’m allowed to angry.  My kids don’t listen to me.

*I’m allowed to be irritated.  My husband doesn’t notice what I’ve done all day around the house.  Do the clothes magically clean themselves?

*It’s my right to hurt. No one understands me and no one really cares about me.

*I’m allowed to sit in my pj’s all days, watch my dvr’d shows, and let everyone fend for themselves because I’m just plain old tired. (yeah..no…this one isn’t personal or anything…)

To be truthful and honest…I’ve been there at various points in my life and have muttered these phrases (and probably others that are just as inane) and felt completely justified in doing so.

                      God’s Word is full of proof that the                             exact opposite is true.  

We are not entitled to anything except death, without trusting in the Lord to save us from our sins.

Proverbs 18:2 (HCSB) is pretty clear as to what kind of person we are not to be, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.”

To be even more clear, in Jesus’ own words He tells us how we are to live our life.  Matthew 16:24-26 (HCSB) says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?”

We don’t like words like ‘deny’ or ‘lose your life’ ~ those do not resonate with our sinful nature of doing whatever we want, when we want, and how we want.  The challenge is there but becomes less when we do follow the Lord and take up the things in our heart that are actions and issues that Jesus loves and is concerned about.

Whether you are a parent or not, you have undoubtedly come across the infamous outpouring of emotional trauma when someone cries out to you, “It’s not fair!”  Oh, that’s my favorite (she says with a smirk!)  My girls know what my response to them will be…every time they say it….”The fair happens once a year and it’s where you can get funnel cake.  Move on.  Life’s not fair.”  I know they hate it when I say it, but I say it with a smile.  Most of the time, they have no idea that that little phrase and the half-smile on my face is what is saving them from a total mommy freak out!

There is responsibility we have to take when we sin and are disobedient.  We do not get to pick and choose what rules apply to our lives.  Simply because we don’t like certain scriptures in the Bible, or laws of the land, or rules in a household, does not preclude us from being accountable when we stray from those statutes.

Ezekiel 18:25-27 (HCSB) says,But you say, ‘The Lord’s way isn’t fair.’  Now listen, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair?  When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, he will die for this. He will die because of the iniquity he has practiced.  But if a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life.”

Our generation of children do not have the corner market on the “it’s not fair” statements. The Israelite’s of the Old Testament have been saying it way before them!

Read that last sentence in Ezekiel again.  What a beautiful promise the Lord gives us!  When we turn away from what we think is our “right” and what we “are allowed” to do, and turn toward the Lord and what He calls us to do, He will ‘preserve our life’ and He will do it immediately!!

On a total side note, a really fun thing that is happening right now as I finish writing this post, is that I have a house full of teens ~ all Seniors in high school…about 25 of them…and they are delightfully loud and full of joy!  They are getting ready to surprise one of their friends for her 18th birthday.  My daughter has been decorating all day and preparing for this event.  The exact opposite of entitlement.  All of these amazing young people have chosen to set aside their own agendas, their own plans, in order to honor one of their friends and make her feel special.  I love this and I’m so excited to be a “fly on the wall” as I listen to them excitedly plan where to hide and when to yell, “SURPRISE!”

How will you lay aside your “rights” this New Year?  How will you decide to set aside your agenda in order to honor your friends? Your family?  What will you do when you feel the ugliness of entitlement begin to rise in your heart?

Stop and breathe and pray!

Whatever we ask of the Lord, that is according to HIS purposes and goals for our life, He will easily and surely give to you.  When you ask Him to give you a patient heart with your children (no matter how old they are!), when you ask the Lord to give you grace with the people driving slower than you on the freeway, when you feel offended by someone does or says, when you feel unappreciated ~ ask the Lord to fill you with His peace…with His goodness…with His grace.

And He will absolutely and perfectly do just that!

Enter each day with an attitude of service ~ trade out the entitlement and choose to find those ways to bless others.  You will not be disappointed when you follow the path that God has for you.

hebrews-4-verse-16-2

Blessings,

René

 

 

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

What’s all the fuss about marriage?

What’s all the fuss about?  It seems to me that this year of 2015 has had so many conversations about marriage ~ what it means, what it’s for, who needs it, who doesn’t, when to give up, when to stick it out, and so much more.  I’ve personally had several friends dealing with truly difficult circumstances in their marriages…and what can I do?  What can I say to someone dealing with things I never have (and pray that I never will!)  All these questions swirling around in my mind have made me draw upon the one place I know I can get all the answers I need.  God’s Word.

So why does it seem that marriage is under attack?  Notice I didn’t say “Christian marriages”, because it’s not just those relationships within a home of Believer’s ~ it’s EVERYWHERE!!  I have heard some great sermons and talk radio lessons on what marriage is and how we can gird up our mind, heart, and soul to combat the true enemy of marriage.  So, I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and wanted to share my thoughts with you. ** And it’s a long post today…but I want to share my heart on this subject of marriage and have a lot to say today. **

First, marriage is the epitome of who God is.  He created man and woman in His own image, to complement one another, (Genesis 1:27).  He wants us to need each other ~ not in an unhealthy way, but in a way that balances one another so that as husband and wife, we can be true partners (Genesis 2:18, 22-24). God is the one who created marriage ~ not a church, not a religion, not a people group of days gone by…GOD created marriage from the beginning of time.

God intended for man to have a wife and that the two would be an inseparable team (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; and Ephesians 5:31).  God intended marriage to be a good thing; a beautiful symbol of how He loves us is how He intended for us to love our spouse.  So the answer to the questions above?  Why is marriage under attack?

It is actually really simple….every good and perfect gift from the Lord God is the exact thing that will be targeted by Satan and his demons.  The goal of the enemy is to undermine, destroy, annihilate, and defame any and ALL of the things of this world that God has determined is good and honoring to Him.  And Satan HATES marriage.  He hates anything and everything that reflects the image of God.

James one 17-18 bible verse with photo

If you are a Christian, then you know that we already have the victory in Christ and that He is still on the throne!  BUT….we have to live here on this earth, which is run by the principalities of the devil, and deal with the mayhem he causes.

Of course the enemy wants to ruin marriage ~ because He stupidly thinks that if he can attack marriages enough, then he will tarnish the beauty of who God is.  If marriage is a picture of who God is, and how He has established the heavenly realms, then when difficulties arise and marriages go awry, the enemy wants marriage to reflect everything that is opposite of who God is.  If people believe that they cannot find trust, unconditional love, faith, support, guidance, truth, kindness, gentleness, or absolute commitment in marriage ~ the danger is that they may begin to believe that they cannot find those in a relationship with God.

How do we know for sure that Satan has been attacking marriage since the very first one? Shortly after God created Eve to be a helpmate to Adam (Genesis 2), Satan comes along in Genesis 3 telling Eve lies and making her doubt what guidance God had given her and Adam.

Doubt brought about deceit. Deceit brought about shame.  Shame brought about fear. Fear brought about blame. Blame brought about accusations. Accusations brought about punishment. Punishment brought about separation.  Separation brought about the need for restoration.

Everything good that God created about the marriage relationship has been under attack from the enemy since the beginning.

In studying these verses in Genesis 2, I just realized something exciting!  Adam was referred to as “man” from the time he was created by God UNTIL God decided to create a woman to be “a suitable helper” for him.  Adam was given his name when he was made complete by Eve.  That is so cool!  Now don’t go thinking I’m about to have a Jerry Maguire “you complete me” moment ~ far from it!  I am made completely a woman.  My husband has been made completely a man.  But when man and woman join together as husband and wife, there is a new sense of completion that we cannot have alone.  We are complete individuals because we are created in God’s image, but the marriage relationship brings about a whole new sense of purpose in relationship like no other relationship.  On the flip side, I’m not saying that if you aren’t married now, or never plan on being married, that you aren’t a whole and complete person ~ you ARE!  As a child of the living God who created the universe, you are complete in HIM!  In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul talks very pointedly (and candidly) about the benefits and wisdom of being married or staying single.  Paul is very clear to make sure to remind the reader that these are not his own whims and recommendations, but instructions from the Lord via Paul’s hand on paper with pen.

What God created in marriage:

Adam (man) ~ the head of the household

Eve (woman) ~ the helpmate to complete Adam

their bodies ~ naked and unashamed

marriage benefit ~ to be fruitful and multiply ~ sex inside marriage is a gift

What Satan has imposed on the world about marriage:

Man ~ fight for superiority using threats, violence, and other means of domination.

Woman ~ made to feel a doormat; decides to emasculate by intimidation; made to feel “less than.”

Our bodies ~ riddled by comparison, jealously, insecurity, and shame.

Benefits ~ sex used as punishment, or withdrawn as a punishment; partners sought outside of marriage relationship

God did not create men to be overlords ~ He created them to be creative, bold, problem solvers, and kind leaders who walk alongside the wife God created for him.

God did not create women inferior ~ He created them to be strong, determined, brave, help mates to walk alongside their husband on the journey of life.

God did not create our bodies to bring us shame ~ He created them to be able to care for His creation, to be able to create life, and to quite frankly, be able to bring joy and delight to our spouse.  God wants us to be excited and thrilled at the sight of our spouse because our bodies are to be a gift unwrapped only by that ONE person!  This goes hand in hand with the benefits of marriage.  Only I should have such intimate knowledge of my husband, and he for me.  It is a gift given to one another unconditionally, with the deepest level of trust ~ a place that is meant just for the two of you.

So if we are created in God’s image & created for marriage relationship, all in efforts to be examples to each other of what relationship with God is and relationship with the Heavenly realms is, why are we surprised when marriages are attacked and how they are attacked?

The devil uses many ways to attack marriage and here’s just a few:

Doubts about my worth = My spouse must not love me either

Shame about my body = My spouse must think I’m ugly too

Pornography addictions = My spouse obviously thinks I’m not enough

Walls of distrust = My spouse is always lying to me about everything

Past abuses = My spouse cannot be trusted

And so many more ~ just take a quick look at your own upbringing and ask the Lord to show you ways that you are repeating negative behavior in your own marriage relationship.  You’re going to feel tempted to look at your spouse’s negative behaviors, but don’t fall for it ~ that’s just another attempt by the enemy to place blame and make you feel as if you don’t have any responsibility.  One of the hardest things to do in marriage is to look within to see what your own contributions of marital breakdown belongs to you.  You can only fix you!  You cannot (and by the way, will never be able to) fix your spouse!  But you can PRAY!!  For yourself and for your spouse.

** Disclaimer here ** ~ I would never advocate for someone to stay in a marriage where they are being abused in any way: verbal or physical.  This is a dangerous situation and should be treated as such.  Please seek out a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor who can help you find freedom from these abuses and assist you in recovering the life that God has truly planned for you.  There is NO kind of abuse that you deserve.

Marriage is hard.  Marriage takes work.  Marriage takes a unity with the Lord AND each other to make it work.

Marriage is worth it!  Marriage can be fun!  Marriage can be a great adventure!

Don’t let the lies and deceit of the devil destroy your opinion of marriage.  God created man and woman to be married to show the world ~ through Christ-like love ~ who He is!  Let us take up the task as followers of Christ and believer’s in God’s Word, to point our own flaming arrows of the truths of God’s Word and fire them into enemy camp.  Let’s remind the enemy who the true Victor is!  Stand up and fight for your marriage and for what marriage stands for!  Pray, pray hard, and then pray again!

Ask God to help you determine what needs to be worked on in your marriage and go from there ~ He won’t disappoint you ~ He will answer you!  If you are struggling with any kind of addictions, please go and see a counselor who will help you win those battles.  If you are feeling “out of love” for your spouse, ask the Lord to give you His love for them and although it will take time, you will feel love for them again.  If you are angry (with yourself or with your spouse) first seek to find out why the anger is there (might be a long process), ask for forgiveness (or give forgiveness) but stick with it so that you can find restoration and move out of anger into contentment.

In the marriage vows, some Pastor’s will say the phrase, “If there be no objections, let no man put asunder what God has ordained.”

There will definitely be hurdles to jump over and issues to deal with in your marriage caused by man; but the one you have to be even more aware of is the enemy of God ~ the devil who seeks to destroy His children by any means possible.

If you have stuck with me this long, I really appreciate it!  I know this was long, but I’m so passionate about couples saving and protecting their marriages.  I wish I could fix all of them…I can’t but I can pray.  Even if I don’t know you, I will pray!  I will keep praying for marriages in this world to be strengthened by the love and power of the Almighty God!  It’s possible!!

Promises from God’s Word to lift you up & encourage you in your marriage:

Romans 5:11, “Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;”

1 Corinthians 7:3-5, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 5:2-4, “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

Titus 2:4-6, “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.”

James 1:17-20, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Blessings,

René