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 in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Are you in Good Hands…

You’re in your living room, half watching a TV show, when a certain insurance commercial comes on. You know the one, the guy with the super deep voice that just draws you in. The kind of voice that is talking about something that you now know you need even though you weren’t looking for it 5 minutes ago. And then he says, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Well, are you?

When I was a child, one of the most safe places I could find was walking side by side with my father while he held my hand. My father seemed bigger than life to me. I mean, he was a fireman…how cool was that! He ran into burning buildings when people were scrambling to get out. In his hands, he directed his team on how to best fight the fire. In his hands, he could guide the tremendous force of water coming through a fire hose to douse a blaze. In his hands, he could analyze the aftermath of a fire and figure out why and how (and who!) the fire started. But his strength didn’t just lie in the power of his job.

In his hands, he held a colicky baby (yeah…that’d be me) while he read the paper, patiently waiting for sleep to arrive. In his hands, he buried his first born son from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In his hands, he comforted other families who had lost children the same way. In his hands, he carried severely burned people out of fiery buildings. In his hands, he carried small children who didn’t make it out of a fire. In his hands, he taught a timid 17 year old how to drive. In his hands, he spent all year growing a cottony-soft white beard all so that he could play Santa to my daughters (which the two year old truly thought he was the real deal and was dumbfounded when “Santa” showed up at her front door on Christmas morning.) In his hands, he cared for our family and for his parents as they aged, with a quiet humility.

In his hands, I was never afraid.

I’m beyond grateful that I have a picture here on earth of how a father loves his child. It’s just a glimpse, because in all truthfulness, for as much as I love my father, he wasn’t perfect. He’d never claim to be. But he’s always been there when I need him. Or when I needed him to teach my children algebra, because math and I have never been friends. I have several friends who did not have a great relationship with their earthly father and in some ways it has made it more difficult to cultivate a deep relationship with Father God. But there is always room for improvement.

Because in God’s Hands, we know the truth and we can know the depth of love and care like we’ve never experienced.

I’m just gonna let the living words of the Psalms speak for themselves here ~

*Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

*Psalm 18:35 “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds and sustains me; Your gentleness [Your gracious response when I pray] makes me great.”

*Psalm 31:5 “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth and faithfulness.”

*Psalm 63:8 “My soul [my life, my very self] clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

*Psalm 92:4 “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works; At the works of Your hands I joyfully sing.”

*Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.”

 

In His hands, I have been created. In His hands, I am secure. In His hands, there is a good path set before me. In His hands, I am made joyful. In His hands, I am protected. In His hands, I am saved. In His hands, I am redeemed. In His hands, I am loved. In His hands, I can choose to love Him back. In His hands, I can show others the truth of His words. In His Hands, I am redeemed. In His Hands, I am qualified. In His hands, I can be a good mother and wife. In His hands, I can be the woman He designed me to be.

In His hands, I have my life.

We are absolutely in good hands. We are in the best hands when we are firmly in the grasp of His Hands.

Now, I want you to picture yourself with the Lord. Hear the booming comfort of His voice. Let Him ask you, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Blessings,

René

Are you in Good Hands - pic for blog.png

 

 

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 4

Hello there!  Welcome back to this first blog series I’ve posted…day 4! If you haven’t read the first three, I’d love to encourage you to go back and read them too.

Today is the wrap-up of what I believe the Lord gave me to share about having the tenacity, wrapped in love for Him, to share God’s Word – His Living Truth – with the church communities we interact with on a daily basis.

I believe in every single part of the Bible and that it is God-breathed ~ it is truly the Living Word of God. I cannot divide it up by what makes me comfortable and what seems unfair. My feelings do not determine the validity of what the Bible says ~ because my feelings are just that…feelings…not always truth.

I also believe that God is good and what He wants to give us is good. Like any good parent, there are rules to follow and consequences are given when that doesn’t happen.

Bottomline though ~ God is a gracious Father and wants the best for His children!

So, let’s get to the final portion of Part 4…

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

Just as the Lord put in scripture to assist us in knowing how to lean on Him and trust His Word, He has given us multiple scriptures to keep in mind how to determine true teachings of the Bible and those that are not.

I John 4 is a great chapter to read on this, and I wanted to highlight the first 6 verses with you here today:

Testing the Spirits ~ I John 4:1-6

 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world.  By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source];  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world.  Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].  They [who teach twisted doctrine] are of the world and belong to it; therefore they speak from the [viewpoint of the] world [with its immoral freedom and baseless theories—demanding compliance with their opinions and ridiculing the values of the upright], and the [gullible one of the] world listens closely and pays attention to them.  We [who teach God’s word] are from God [energized by the Holy Spirit], and whoever knows God [through personal experience] listens to us [and has a deeper understanding of Him]. Whoever is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know [without any doubt] the spirit of truth [motivated by God] and the spirit of error [motivated by Satan].

{bolded phrases: my emphasis}

If we are truly Christians – honestly seeking to honor the Lord by how we live our lives according to the precepts and commandments He has given us – then we are within the proper scope of teaching the Truth of God’s word.

Read again verse 5 “They [who teach twisted doctrine] are of the world and belong to it; therefore they speak from the [viewpoint of the] world [with its immoral freedom and baseless theories—demanding compliance with their opinions and ridiculing the values of the upright], and the [gullible one of the] world listens closely and pays attention to them.”

Does this sound familiar in the world we live in? And it’s not just the basic world view vs. Biblical view of living. The following statement flows equally between the two and it kinda goes like this:

“You must be tolerant of all beliefs and opinions. Here’s my truth and you are welcome to it. You have to be tolerant because this is my truth. And if you disagree with me, you are then intolerant because you don’t agree with me. And even though I don’t agree with you, I am not being intolerant because my truth tells me that what you believe in is ludicrous.” This is basically the world’s reaction to everyone who doesn’t agree with “their truth”.     {by René A. Bancroft}

Bottom line, we are back to the basics of what we talked about last week in that no one wants to admit they are sinners, have a sin-nature, need saving from their sin, etc., in order to be saved from eternal separation from God.

God Is Light: John 1:5-10

This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].8 If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] 9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. 10 If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us.

{bolded phrases: my emphasis}

In doing some of the research for this series, I came across so much information about Christianity, written by people who were NOT Christians. It was heartbreaking as I read one post by someone who said that the way to know someone was a “real Christian” was to find out what people groups or activities they hated. It wouldn’t be as devastating of a statement if there weren’t some truth to it. We have certainly not loved as Jesus in many occasions. But it’s not too late to change!!

That same person went on, in his own estimation, to disprove every one of God’s commandments on what was sin. His “truth” was that as long as you followed the “only two” of God’s laws that “really counted” you were good enough. What laws did he choose for his truth?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And to follow the Golden Rule (a worldly term), or as stated in Matthew 7:12, “So then, in everything treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.

But even as this guy let you in on his secret as to tell who a real Christian was, there are those within the church who do the same thing. When disagreements come up between people, they decide, many times based on how they feel about various scripture, that the other person is right or wrong. Usually wrong if they are in disagreement with them and their opinions. That’s how denominations were and are created and that is what causes people to leave one church and join another.

Even in this train of thought, there’s a verse for that…

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”  ~ If being hurt by the church community, or even just one person within the church, causes you to lose faith in God, then your faith was actually in people and not in God.

The main goal of satan is to distract us and cause confusion and chaos. Why be surprised that the church in America is dying. When we are fighting over what scripture means, if it was meant for people only 2000 years ago, if it applies to us today, and the list goes on and on; then the enemy wins. Remember that we are not fighting a battle against flesh and blood but of spirits and principalities of this world.

God is a God of order and direction.

It is absolutely possible to share the truth of God’s Living Word within the church. The best advice I can give you to help you do that.

Open the Bible.

Read the Bible.

This is the best and ONLY way to not be deceived by the world and be swayed into believing in the “popular opinion” of the day. We are ridiculed daily because the belief we have in the Truth of God’s Word ~ stop being surprised by that! But react to it in love.

As followers of Christ, we are to live in a way that points people to Jesus. We cannot save anyone. We cannot give away the free gift of salvation. Only Jesus can do that.

But we have the beautiful privilege to be present when someone opens their heart to the knocking of the Holy Spirit.

Pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal the Truth of His Word to your heart and mind.  And He will do it.

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

 

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 2

Welcome back to part 2 of sharing God’s truth without compromise. One of the ways we do that is by sharing our testimony with others.

Our testimony to the outside world simply looks like how we live our daily life.

I heard a song on the radio the other day that said there are ‘millions of doorways that when opened, shine the light of Jesus and that doorway is you.’

At first I thought it was pretty cheesy and was about to change the radio station, but I decided to listen to the whole song. It still felt a bit on the cheesy side but the truth of the song is what hit me.

We are supposed to be that ‘doorway’ where when we open our life and share with other people what Christ has done for us and what God does for us every day, it is so exciting and enticing to a non-believer, that they can’t help but want to walk through and follow Jesus!

We have the Truth, capital T, and we should be walking around so obviously filled with joy that comes from God’s Truth, that it makes people around us so curious as to why we have joy… Why we have peace… Why we are able to be so kind and gracious and merciful. Our love for Jesus should be so obvious that people are drawn to us and to the light of the Holy Spirit, kind of like a moth to a flame.

But why is it so hard to share the truth of the Bible without compromise? Fear? Embarrassment? Not wanting to be judge mental? Not wanting to be misunderstood? Not wanting to be ostracized? Not wanting someone to think we are “that kind of Christian”. It is definitely not easy to share the principles of Christianity with people who have absolutely no desire to hear them nor follow them. There is so much “tolerance”, and I use that word very loosely, being touted in our society today but what today’s standard of tolerance really means is, “Here is my opinion and my beliefs and you are welcome to believe it. And if you don’t then you’re an intolerant hater.”

Isn’t it interesting that everyone in the world wants to be sensitive and tolerant to the religions of the world except for Christianity? Why do you think that is?

The one viewpoint that has plagued every decade is the fact that people want to be considered either good or bad. Why do good things happen to bad people…why do bad things happen to good people?

The fact is that quite honestly, none of us are good.

If we were all “good enough”, then Christ would have never needed to come and save us and reconcile us back to Him. I realize this is a rather bold statement, but none of us are good enough. No one in this world is good enough. In scripture it says that very thing, we are not good enough on our own. We are not saved to then go about our business and work our way into heaven or work our way into better parts of heaven or have better hierarchy in heaven.

We are born within us a sin nature; with the attitude that we have it all under control. The sin nature that we are born with tells us from a very early age that we should not have to be controlled by another person. That we are in various ways, better than the person next to us.

The thieves on the cross prove that is an inerrant concept because the difference is that one thief recognized his sin and the other did not. They both KNEW they were not good but pride and arrogance robbed the one from an eternity in Paradise. That one did not think he needed anyone to save him. And that is what it comes down to with people who choose Jesus and people who do not choose Him.

People who believe that they are good enough, do not want to look deep into their own heart and admit that they are indeed sinners.

No one likes to have that kind of introspection because it’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. It can be embarrassing and it can feel like a big failure. But what it really is, is the arrogance of sin to believe that we are “good enough” to go to heaven.

There is not one verse in scripture that says anything remotely like that. It actually says the exact opposite.

Ephesians 2:1-10 is crystal clear about this:

“And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins, in which you once walked. You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God]. Among these [unbelievers] we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by the sinful self], indulging the desires of [a]human nature [without the Holy Spirit] and [the impulses] of the [sinful] mind. We were, by nature, children [under the sentence] of [God’s] wrath, just like the rest [of mankind]. But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”

The best way to preach the gospel to those who do not believe in Jesus yet…besides trying to live a life that is honoring to the Lord in how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis…is to encourage that person to open the pages of scripture and read for themselves.

The Bible is the Truth and the Holy Spirit is incredibly adept in whispering to the soul of the unsaved and ushering them into a place where they can hear the knocking on the door of their heart from Jesus.

I have heard so many stories where people have come to salvation as they have a read through The New Testament and experience through the Living Word of God what it means to truly be saved and become a follower of Christ. Because there is power in the spoken Word, the written Word, and the shared Word of God.

We can testify about our love for the Lord, we can plant seeds of encouragement, but we cannot save anyone with our words.

God’s Word is without error; without compromise. He does not need us to defend His Word…just to share it with love, grace, and mercy.

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Blessings,

René

 

 

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 1

I recently taught in our adult Sunday school class at church and wanted to now share it with you all!

I’ve been gripped lately on what it means to share the truth of God’s Word ~ WITHOUT COMPROMISE!  And not just with the world around us, but within the Christian communities we are a part of. And yes, there’s plenty of compromise that goes on within the church communities regarding the Word of God. But we’ll get to that…

So here goes Part 1 of 4 ~ hope you join me and let me know how you share God’s Truth without compromise.

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J.J. Packer once said, “There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

This can be one of those topics that is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple because we simply need to look and see what God’s Word says about life and this world and live accordingly. But it is difficult because there are so many in our world today who view Christianity through an incredibly negative lens.

The reason why that is the case, is because we have not as a community of Christians, of believers, of people who are supposed to be Christ minded, have not set a good example. So many people walk around with the idea that, “What do I need to be saved from?” “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner.”, and my favorite, “Well I’m not as bad as that person.” I know I have been guilty of that mindset more often than I care to admit.

In Part 1, I would like to talk about how we share the truth of the Good News with people who have not come to know who Jesus really. People who we work with, neighbors, people in our family. There are so many different ways that we can share the Good News of God’s Word without compromise and without coming across as ultra-judgmental either.

Even though the fact is that we are all sinners with a need for the reconciliating power of salvation – and so many in the world do not want to admit this – it is better to have this realization in your life while you are here on this earth and deal with it here instead of waiting until the ultimate day of judgment after you have left this earth and stand before Jesus.

A very difficult concept to wrap around our mind is the idea of people that we know who die without being saved and the fact that we will not see them again in heaven. I think of the depth of sadness that my father experienced at the death of his father, knowing that he would never see him again after his death. As a parent, and as someone who has attended just a few funerals for non-Christian people, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me when I see the children of that person look up to the ceiling with comments like, “Well Mom, wherever you are I hope you’re doing well.”

Honestly, it was not until I was 31 years old that I attended such a funeral. I was completely heartbroken for these young 20-something children that they had nothing to give them hope of ever seeing their mother again. The entire family was not saved so it was not something that they had ever really talked about, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I am beyond grateful that my children and my future grandchildren will never have to say that about me.

So how do we share Jesus with people who don’t know Him? One thing that has been encouraging to me is watching the way that my daughter Savannah shares the gospel. Very, very rarely {if at all} these days does she ever start a conversation with, “I’m a Christian so let me tell you about Christ.” Because the term “Christians”really puts people on edge.

What she has found is when she simply talks about Jesus, most of the time it completely changes the course that the conversation will take. She will say things like, “Well you asked me what the difference is in my life and I can honestly tell you the difference is that I really love Jesus. Have you heard about Jesus?”

In Philippians 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) It talks about how powerful the name of Jesus is: “For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus [a]EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”

There is power every time we say His name. The mighty Name of Jesus.

There is power because of not only who He is but what He has done to save us and reconcile us back into relationship with Him. When you tell people that you love Jesus and then why, it is usually incredibly compelling. People don’t want to have verses and laws and rules quoted at them. They want to hear about experiences and feelings and a life altering moment.

This does not mean you have to have some crazy, sensational kind of testimony, it simply means you have a story to tell about who you are because of who Jesus is.

A few years ago I heard a speaker say, “If the testimony you share is the same one you’ve been sharing for the past 10 years, what does your relationship with Jesus really look like?”

They went on to say that our testimony should continually be changed and updated as we live our life for and with Christ. Our testimony is somethings that is supposed to be new and fresh all the time. The only way for that to be a reality is if we are in a relationship with Jesus where we are actively in conversation with Him and available to the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us, every day.

The Bible is filled with encouragement as to how to share God’s Truth. One verse I love is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14‬ ‭{AMP‬‬} “Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].”‬‬
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That last sentence is key in being without compromise as we share the truths of God’s Word with others. Everything, not just the easy stuff, but everything we do must be done in love “motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.”

We have the absolute best gift in the world and we don’t share it! I know I have shrunk back at times, from being vocal about my belief in the Lord and how He has worked in my life. For what? Fear that people will think I’m a crazy Jesus freak? A conservative Christian who’s clueless about things “really” work in this world?

So lame of me! Jesus’ death and resurrection will always trump any possible embarrassment I may feel on this earth. If I’m sharing HIM with others, it’s not up to me how they receive HIM…it’s up to me to share.

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Be on the lookout for part 2!  It’s coming soon!!

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

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

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René