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And then it was a New Year…

 

New Year blog - Refiner text - 1-16-20

For the past few years, I have prayed and asked the Lord to give me a word or scripture that would be an anchor of sorts for me in the new year.

I used to think it was kind of a silly Christian trend; especially with how popular and influential social media has become over the last five years.

Until the day in March of 2015 when I was sitting at a day retreat at our church and right before the speaker began, I clearly heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “I have set you a part.” At first I thought it was my own thoughts because I was literally the only one sitting in the front row. I hadn’t planned on it, and just as the enemy was tempting me to feel sorry for myself that I was sitting alone, that is when God whispered His promised to my heart. Then, as He is a good Father, He said it to me again but with a bit more clarity, “I have called you to be set a part.”

Immediately I knew that the Lord had given me a word for the year. He was going to be leading me down a path that would be new for me but I knew I could trust Him. That was the year I began to believe I was a woman with a mission. A woman who wanted to seek after the Lord and truly be called a friend of God.

I have received a ‘word of the year’ every year since then. It is still both a bit nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time.

Before I share what my word is for 2020, I wanted to share what I heard at a bible study I attended in December 2019.

Pastor Christine Suh, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Fellowship Monrovia, was the guest speaker at the Fellowship Moms Bible Study. The title of what she shared was “Festooning”. I have not heard that word in a very long time and by the quizzical looks on the faces of most of the women in the room, I wasn’t alone.

Festooning basically means “to decorate”. She then shared that she would be teaching us how to festoon scripture into our soul. That definitely caused me to pause. If you know me, you know that I am a woman who loves to decorate!  I’ve got the décor boxes (for just about every holiday) in my garage to prove that point. I had never thought about decorating my soul with God’s Word.

Before we started, she had us ask the Lord what He needs from me personally. Then Pastor Christine asked us to take a few minutes of contemplative prayer. In those holy quiet moments that filled the room of over 100 women, there was an incredible peace that washed over me. I felt the Lord say, “You need to get fully awake. You are not awake enough yet! Do not be afraid to be fully set on fire for Me.”

WHOA!!!!!

My eyes flew open because there was a part of me that expected to see someone saying those words out loud to me. It was not a quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit, it was a directive from the Father.

This word meant so much more to me since my 2019 words were ‘Awake and Arise’. At the beginning of last year, when I prayed for a word, the Lord said, “I need you to wake up so I can rise you up.” 2019 was definitely a year that I woke up to A LOT of spiritual reality regarding where the Lord was taking me. My word in 2018 was ‘Rise Up’ ~ and that was a year of rebuilding and refocus for me. There was a lot of introspective challenges the Lord brought me through.

Jude 20-21 says, 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on [the foundation of] your most holy faith [continually progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], pray in the Holy Spirit, 21 and keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [which will bring you] to eternal life.”

The bible studies, personal reading, contemplating on scripture was that foundation that the Lord was using to rise up the Holy Spirit within me. There were several significant moments in 2018 that the Lord used to clearly speak to my heart as to what seed had been planted.

Now, back to the present, I realized that all of those ‘words of the year’ prayers were way more impactful than I understood in the moment. As I prayed that day at Fellowship Mom’s, I had one of those “aha” moments!

This is what festooning the scripture on our heart means ~ to allow God’s living word to drape across our soul in order to bring delight, clarity, joy, celebration, and purpose to our life.

To festoon is to personalize. And because God’s word is alive, He can personalize it to us every time we decide to spend time with Him. That’s the heart of the good Father. He knows His children and what make each one of us respond to His voice.

As Pastor Christine continued with her teaching, she helped us go through a festooning of Psalm 23 ~ time spent personalizing this scripture to our current life circumstances. It was a beautiful thing to then sit and hear form the other 8 women at my table and see how these same verses were personalized totally different for each of us. God was in the midst of us, speaking to us uniquely and purposefully.

So, my word for 2020? Well, is currently mid-January and I just recently prayed for a word. It stunned me and it humbled me. Remember what the last few words were of what I felt God say to me in that contemplative prayer?

~ “…to be fully set on fire for Me!” ~

My words for 2020 are: Fire and Refiner

At first I wasn’t sure I heard the Lord correctly. But of course I did. I would not have come up with those words by myself. My first thoughts were honestly ones of trepidation, “Oh Lord…what are you going to burn away from me this year? What do I need to die to and give up? Where and when is this refining going to take place.”

Then I was reminded what I heard in that prayer and I felt such a peace come over me.

This will be a year where the things I do not need to hold on to in my life, will be cast away. Admittedly a bit of control freak, this is not going to be easy. But I so trust the Lord with what His plan and path for me in 2020 is. When I researched the word ‘fire’ in scripture, most of the time it’s in regard to God burning things and throwing things in the fire due to His wrath. But there is another side of fire scripture speaks about:

  • As a visible form of guidance for the Israelites in the wilderness ~ Exodus 13:21-22, 21 The [presence of the] Lord was going before them by day in a pillar (column) of cloud to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, so that they could travel by day and by night. 22 He did not withdraw the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from going before the people.
  • As a showing of God’s power & protection for those who trust in Him ~ Daniel 3:25-26, “ 25 He answered, “Look! I see four men untied, walking around in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the appearance of the fourth is like [d]a son of the gods!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the blazing furnace and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out [of there]! Come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.
  • As a sign of God’s covenant with the Believer’s ~ Acts 2:2-4, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit]. And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately].
  • As a reminder of God’s power within us ~ 2 Timothy 1:6, “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination].”
  •  As a reminder that our words can speak life or death ~ James 3:6, “And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).”
  • And as a reward ~ 1 Peter, 1:6-9, In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy, receiving as the result [the outcome, the consummation] of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

As for the word ‘refiner’, for the first few days I didn’t look too deeply into that word because I felt that it naturally went with the word fire. But over the past week, through more prayer and contemplation, I’ve come to realize that not only will the Lord continue to refine me as I seek after Him, but He is going to put in me in situations where He will use me to refine those around me. That is a daunting and humbling task. That is partly why James 3:6 is so pertinent to my thought processes.

In my 51 years on this earth so far (yeah, I said it…) I have walked through enough joys and trials to be able to speak with authority in a refining manner. I’m still learning, but I’ve also learned a lot! Sharing my story will hopefully help those who come behind me to learn from my mistakes. But more so to learn that God is a very loving and patient Father!

Before I go, I’ll share a link to a great song called “Refiner” by Maverick City Music. Trust me that I listened quite a bit more intently to this song in the last few weeks!

{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGFCbmvk0vo}

Blessings,

René

{Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash}

 

 

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

Reboot….

This has been my mind set pretty much all day, which is why I’m finally getting to my writing at 7:30pm!

Yesterday, when I went to open my “blog ideas” list on my Notes app…I panicked!

 It.Was.Not.There!  

Like, at all!  Tons of other non-essential lists to myself are there, but my “go to” blog ideas list was gone.  My wonderful husband looked up some ideas on google and then we just decided to call Apple tech help.  Sweet Ashley from Austin, TX led me through the process of erasing my iPhone (yes…I said, ERASING!!), which at first totally freaked me out, but she assured me that if I followed her directions, talking out every step of the process, my phone would reboot in about 5 hours.  Then she said, “But wait…before we go through this process, do you have an automatic back up set up on your phone?”  Thankfully, I did (hard lesson learned from the last time something like this happened!) ~ I was confident that Ashley was going to be my saving grace and I’d get my LIST back!

I hope I haven’t lost you with this computer talk of erasing, rebooting, back-ups ~ but hang in there….

The one thing she kept asking me was, “Are you sure you saw your list before the last back up at 6:33am this morning?”  I was fairly sure I’d seen it that afternoon, so we chose that back up to reload.  There was also a back up performed 12 hours earlier ~ were my notes on that one?  Well, we’ll never know!  As I went to sleep last night, my phone had completed its 5 hour long reboot…everything was there right where I left it…except for my list!

Today was an odd Monday in that I didn’t have a concentrated day of writing, but it did give me a lot of time to think about what I would write, what could God bring to my mind, what could I remember from MY LIST!  (Another panic moment!)

Then a friend of mine, who encourages me on “blog days” checked in with me.  I texted her my tale of woe and she had the audacity not to join my pity party!  She wrote back, “Guess you have to reboot your thoughts?”  My eloquent ~ and most Christian-like ~ reply to that was, “Dangit!”  To which I got her response, “An exercise in trust and patience.”  I’m so thankful that God keeps friends in my life who keep me real and keep me grounded!

So, with my day of school activities and committee meetings, my brain kept tossing around the idea of “rebooting my thoughts.”  What does that look like?  How could I tap into that today?  Or any day for that matter?  What does a reboot look like for you?

In the dictionary, reboot refers to literally shut down and restart.  Yes, this phrasing was coined in the early 1980’s with the dawn of the computer age, but read that again ~

“to shut down and restart”

But here is the twist my dear friend….you cannot undertake this process alone.  You must consult with a professional…with one who knows how the manual works…with someone who can guide you through the rebooting process with minimal (or without any!) loss of information.

Had I tried to figure out how to reboot my iPhone, I may have lost precious photos (uh..yeah…I am currently downloading all my photos to my computer while I write this!), or other various apps and programs on my phone.  But because I followed Ashley’s directions, and did not try to second-guess her (she’s the expert here!) or jump ahead of the process, the reboot was successful.  My precious list didn’t show up (it’s floating around in cyberspace I’m sure!) but the reboot was a success.  Everything that was on my iPhone during the last back-up, was returned.

Can you see where I’m going here?  I hope so….it took my all day to figure this one out!

What is it in your life that is out of whack?  Just a hair off?  Something slightly damaged?  What is God asking you to shut down and restart?  What “data” is God asking you to erase?  NONE of these things are easy or comfortable…they are sometimes downright frightening!  But when the God of the Universe, the Father who loves you dearly, is asking you to trust Him through the process of “rebooting and starting over,” He can absolutely 100% be trusted!  He is the expert of your life!  He is the professional that you can run to in times of trouble and distress!

But before you can reboot anything successfully, you have to have made a back-up plan.  Now, my iPhone can be set to do it automatically so I don’t have to think about it.  Seriously, if I have one more thing I have to remember every day…ugh!  Not a good thought!  But with the Lord and His Word, it’s not an automatic anything.  We have to be actively involved in uploading (I know….another computer term) the Living Word of God into our hearts and minds.  When we are daily in process of reading God’s Word, praying throughout our day, we have a back-up of truth that we can draw from when we have to shut down and restart.

We have Old Testament truths in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” and in Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” and in the New Testament we read beautiful verses like Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” and a favorite of mine and so many others, Philippians 4:6-8, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.””

I would like to challenge you right now, when you are done reading this, to go to the Lord in prayer.  Part of this time in prayer can most definitely include time spent in His Word (the best ‘owner & operator’ manual you’ll ever have)!  This is not a “get an answer quick” kind of attitude here, but one of reverence for the fact that the Lord is the ONLY one you can turn to who can help you to be confident through the rebooting process.  Allow Him to take out the thought patterns that are filling your mind with “spam” (sorry…I couldn’t help but get one more computer reference in there)! Let Him clear out the filters of lies that the enemy has been feeding your way. And then…FOLLOW His directions!  This is key!

Jump in and let the professional erase the unnecessary and damaged views you may have about Him, about your life, about the world you are living in.  Allow the Lord (yeah..the professional!) do His work in your life so that you can be made new again.  So that you can move forward freely to accomplish the tasks He has for you, and so that you can do them well.

The rebooting process takes some time.  Just like my iPhone, some of the apps came back right away and worked fine, while other more detailed areas took longer.  There is no way to rush the process ~ because if you try, you will negate the process and it will have to start over.  But thank you Lord Jesus that you are a patient Father, who desires to take the time (when I choose to place my life in His very capable hands) to get me back on the path to restoration and wholeness.

My friends, trust Him today with your reboot!  It’s worth it!!

Blessings,

René

Philippians 4 verse 7