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

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

Gratitude is a Weapon…

Have you ever smiled at someone as you pass them in the grocery aisle? What about complimenting a stranger on their cute outfit? Or the beautiful silvery coif of the elderly neighbor walking their dog?

{But seriously…if you’ve never done something like this…you’ve got your assignment for today…go out and pay a stranger a truthful and encouraging compliment!}

These are just a few little ways we can help change the attitudinal landscape from complacency to gratitude.

The definition of gratitude is actually very simple ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”

So how does a compliment bring on gratitude?

First of all, when you compliment a stranger, it’s known by both parties that it’s an actual real compliment.  It’s not something you feel you have to say or something you are obligated to do. Letting someone know that they are seen, that they are appreciated, that they have been noticed ~ well, it can turn their day around…and maybe even their month! In this way, we’ve helped to shift that person’s perspective on life a bit. They will absolutely remember what you said and how it made them feel. And that feeling can turn into at attitude of gratitude. And I bet they are going to be more likely to pass it on!

But gratitude as a weapon?

A weapon is anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim, according to the dictionary.

Okay…go with me one more time down the “road of words” here as I put together both definitions of gratitude and weapon…

When we are being attacked verbally, emotionally, or via social media, we can combat all of that garbage by taking on a stance of thankfulness for what we know the truth is.

Too hard you say?

Jesus did it all the time…and it’s in and through His living word that we can gain the tools necessary to use gratitude as a weapon.

I Corinthians 8:3 (AMP) says, “But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].”

If we remember the truth that we are KNOWN by God, then we can choose to be grateful and thankful in situations instead of offended and crushed.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AMP) tells us, Rejoice always and delight in your faith;  be unceasing and persistent in prayer;  in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I will admit…this is a hard one to grab hold of sometimes!  When someone wrongs me {or God help them…wrongs one of my people!} the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t usually how I can give thanks to the Lord for the situation we are in. But if I’m going to take the word of God literally as the inerrant and living Word of the Lord {and I do!} then I have to take it ALL literally. These verses above say those three little words…”in every situation.” Well dagnabit! I don’t always want to. Okay, let’s be real, I never want to…but it is what God is calling me to do on the daily!

Oh and the “continually give thanks to God” part ~ that gets me every time! How can I always be in a posture of thankfulness when a loved one is dying? When I see stories of severe abuse and trafficking on the news? When my friends’ marriages are experiencing painfully deep betrayals? When finances seem to disappear like a puffy dandelion blown in the breeze? I’m sure you can add your own items to this list as well.

Note that God does not ask us to be thankful BECAUSE a bad situation is encircling our camp. His heart does ache with ours when we experience sorrow and disappointment. He is our GOOD GOOD Father and just as my heart is saddened when my kids go through difficult circumstances, how much more does the heart of our Heavenly Father twinge with affection and love when He knows we are hurting!!

I Peter 1:2-5 sheds some light to us about the WHY we are to have that ‘attitude of gratitude’…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be yours in increasing abundance [as you walk closely with God]. Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.”

When we closely walk in relationship with the Lord, He will increase our spiritual well-being so that we can live in new mercies every day BECAUSE of the extravagant FREE gift of His salvation. Even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, we are always protected by the heavenly armies because God loves us that much! This makes living a life of gratitude that much more attainable.

Living apart from God’s redemption is what we are saved from having to endure…that is more than enough of a reason to live a grateful life.

In the MOST powerful example of using gratitude as a weapon was when Jesus offered Himself up to die on the cross. He took upon EVERY SINGLE SIN of the whole world {past, present, and future} in order to save us from an eternal death away from Him. Salvation is the most exquisitely crafted weapon against satan and all his demons.

Satan loses. And he loses every time.

When we call upon the name of Jesus to save us and to be with us in our every day life, satan loses. Satan is a loser and a liar, so shut him down!

Hebrews 12:1-3 is a beautiful encouragement to us ~

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In His grace, in the gracious way that Jesus loves us, He used gratitude as a weapon against any evil that could ever be formed against us. We have an enemy but we also {and more importantly} have the victory! We have already won!

Jesus showed His kindness and His compassion to the woman at the well, to the woman who washed His feet with precious perfume, to the man healed of leprosy, to the man healed of blindness, to the woman accused of adultery, to the woman at the empty tomb…and so much more!

John 8:10-11 paints a picture of the gracious love of Jesus & what happens when He trades our sin for His salvation ~ Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

May I challenge you with something today? Okay good, here it goes ~

Begin to arm yourself every day with the weapon of Gratitude , with the tools of Joy, with the song of Prayer, and with the adornments of Thankfulness! Now talk about being dressed for battle! You’ve got this!!

Have a powerful day!!!

Blessings,

René

 

1 Thessalonians 5 vs 16-18

 

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

Your View: Windshield or Rear-View…

Are You Looking Out the Windshield or the Rear-View Mirror?

I got the idea for this discussion topic from a sermon I heard the other day on the radio.There’s a reason why the windshield on a car is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small.

We need to have a wide view of what is out in front of us so that we can see where we are going. The point of driving somewhere is to move forward to get where we intend to end up. We don’t drive backwards to get to our destination. Right?

I know these concepts are not mind-blowing or something new…but I think it’s a good reminder every now and then to take notice of where our attention lies.

Rear-view mirrors, and side-view mirrors for that matter, aren’t bad though…they are completely necessary.

When we look up to check the rear-view or side-view mirrors, that’s just it…it’s just to take a quick look to make sure we are not in danger of being in an accident or causing an accident as we move about the road. We are not to allow our focus to linger because if we do, we are bound to run into the car in front of us.

Our past is like those smaller mirrors.

There’s a warning bell that sounds in your heart or your head, when you’re about to veer off course.  It’s the alarm that alerts us to check ourselves. Are we about to make the same mistake for the millionth time? Are we about to say the wrong thing to someone…again…knowing it won’t work? Did we forget what happened the last time? And if the mirror checks don’t work, then when we drive over those little bumpy-things (I’m sure they gave a name!) that’s a physical AND audible alert that we need to correct our path or we’ll soon be in trouble!

When we look into the side mirror, we can see that car speeding up really fast to our left and make that quick decision to WAIT to move over.

When we look into our rear-view mirror, we can see that car speeding up behind us or flashing their lights at us, and decide we need to move over and let that person go on their merry way albeit too fast and not get involved in their crazy. We can also see the red lights of a fire truck or police car, alerting us to move over because there’s trohbke ahead!

So how does that this translate into our spiritual life?

What side glances get you off track?

What kinds of things do you think you should be focusing on in your “front windshield”?

Let’s look at some scripture that talks about looking forward or behind.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (AMP) “Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.”

 Right there in scripture ~ “…look directly ahead…”  When we direct our gaze straight ahead, like through a large windshield, we will see the path that clearly leads to integrity!

Hebrews 11: 23-29 (AMP) “By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”

 I love that these verses in Hebrews remind us that it is not simply looking ahead & fixing our gaze on the Lord; it is through FAITH that we can accomplish this daily task.

 We are also instructed in God’s Word to take His direction for our life very seriously. When He tells us not to look behind us {dwelling on past sin; obsessing over something you think you’ve missed out on; staying stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness; etc.} then He means it!! 

Genesis 19:26 (AMP) “But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.”

God also shows us through scripture how He provides the way out of a situation. One that is getting a bit frightening or unsettling. In Genesis 22:13 (AMP) we see just that…“Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.”

 Let go of the past and start moving forward! Maybe it’s an actual physical move out of the environment you’re in (work, neighborhood, state…). Maybe it’s a shift in your heart ~ an attitude you’re having is causing disruption in your spiritual life. 

Luke 9:61-62 (AMP) “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Don’t linger on looking into the smaller windows. Look through the bigger lens of God’s Word…through His windshield!

Blessings,

René

 

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

Jesus IS Enough…

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

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

Flippant answer ~ because we’re human.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus IS Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ephesians-6-verses-19-and-20

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

Jesus IS Enough.

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

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

Blessings,

René

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

God crossed enemy lines!

My heart is breaking for our world…for the sadness that seems to have covered our nation…

However ~ I am not without HOPE!  

No matter where I have found myself in my life, there is always HOPE!  I do not say this as a cute little “christian-ese” phrase…I totally and absolutely believe it!  But it is not MY hope that I have tucked down in the marrow of my bones.  It is the hope that my precious Lord gives me every day.

But what do we do when we feel without hope?  What do we do when we see those around us crippled by hopelessness?  Sometimes, well let’s be honest ~ most of the time ~ we cannot fix someone else’s sense of hopelessness.  But we can pray and we can cry out to God for help.  Why?  Not because He is a proverbial genie in a bottle, but because He cares for us immensely more than we really can comprehend.

Let’s think about this…

From the time that Adam stood next to Eve (Genesis 3:6-7), and they both ate of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God crossed over enemy lines to get us back!  In that moment, He began His mission of reconciliation between God and man.  He searched them out in the Garden of Eden, and He did so in love.  He did not stomp about the garden yelling for Adam and Eve to come out of their hiding place (because…you know…He knew where they were the whole time!)  How it must have caused God to cringe as He watched His creation take the bait of the enemy!

In Genesis 3:8-13, we see how God asked questions of Adam and Even, and listened to their excuses as to why they had disobeyed.  Hello to the beginning of placing blame, deflecting the issue onto someone else, and basically trying to get out of trouble for something you know you did wrong!  But God listened.

I imagine Him sitting there in the Garden, talking with Adam & Eve, but NEVER taking His eyes of the Serpent in the background.  When He had heard enough, He had no choice but to hand out discipline.  I imagine Him then standing tall and stepping between Adam & Eve, to face the Serpent.  God gave out the first line of punishment to the Serpent (verse 14 & 15).  Upon creating Adam & Eve, and showing them all the delights of the Garden, He told them all of the things they could do and all that they could eat.  Only ONE THING could they not take part in, and what would happen if they crossed that line.

In that one moment, so began the earthly journey of our lives ~ being pursued by the God that loves us so much that He crossed enemy lines by sending His only Son to the earth to bring us back to Him.  We cannot handle seeing the glory of God the Father, but He planned it all so that we could look upon His Son and see the face of God.

I think the ultimate act of ‘crossing the enemy lines’ is when Jesus was resurrected and during the 3 days of His death, He went down into the belly of hell and took back the keys of death.  Jesus, the Son, overcame death forever.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the absolute confirmation that we are so loved by our God.  He wants to be reconnected with us through the resurrection and salvation of His Son.  Jesus Christ has the victory of EVERYTHING!  There is nothing in our life, in our neighborhood, in our nation, in our world, or in our universe that He has not ALREADY overcome!  The power of the Creator of the Universe lives within us when we humble ourselves and receive Him as our Savior.

There has not been one generation, even since the beginning of the first family created by Adam & Eve, that has not bucked up against God having control of their life.  King Solomon writes an entire book (Ecclesiastes) about how there is ‘nothing new under the sun.’  Read these words that were penned centuries ago and you will see that they could have been written by any number of journalists today…

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10, All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us.” 

God is not surprised by unrest, by hate, by unkind actions, by war, by bitterness, by thoughts/acts of revenge, or by disobedience.

God is full of love and second chances for us to come to Him.

Psalm 36:6-8, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” 

Psalm 66:19-20But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”

Romans 5:7-9 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Oh…these are just a few of the promises in God’s word about how much He loves us and what He will do to bring us back to Him.  There are so many eloquent passages in God’s Word that speak of His great love for us!

If God is so willing and able to cross enemy lines, we have the same power to willingly and ably cross those same lines of the enemy around us and stand for Christ!  Calling out to receive Him and call Him Savior grants us the access to that kind of spiritual power! Stand up for the things that make His heart cry out, stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, and stand up for those who are without hope.

Be the light to the world ~ that shines hope and faith to everyone around them.  If there are hardships that you are going through right now, don’t mope around like you are powerless!  You have every gift of the Holy Spirit within you to conquer every single aching moment of life you will encounter.  It is one of our callings as Christians to show the world that they can have hope in this dismal world.

You can overcome!

John 16:32-33 says, Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

…and in Romans 12:21, we read, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 I know I have quoted a lot of scripture in today’s blog, but there are no words that I could imagine that would so succinctly state what is in my heart to share with you.  Take heart today that you are not alone.  You are not defeated.  You are not in a losing battle.  Trust in the truth of God’s Word, even when (and especially when!) you are feeling a bit hopeless.
You have the victory in Christ because He crossed enemy lines
to get you back!
I John 5:3-5 promises, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Blessings,

René

i-john-5-verse-4

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

Shattering the Darkness…

This past week, there has been so much tragedy in the news.  Which, honestly, that’s why I don’t watch the news.  I used to watch the morning and evening news every day, but it became overwhelming for me.  All the bad news just lingered in my brain and brought on unrealistic fears and anxieties.  I know that the Lord is my protector and that I can turn my worry over to Him, but I was spending so much time allowing the darkness of this world to permeate my mind, it was becoming a real problem for me.

I mean really, what are the odds that the convict on the run from a prison (that was is an eight hour drive from my home) would actually be hiding in my backyard?  Or the ring of burgler’s, two hours away from our neighborhood, were going to arrive in the middle of the night choosing us as the next targets?  And the list went on and on.  It’s probably been a good seven years since I’ve watched the evening news, and that has made a huge difference.

But some stories, it doesn’t matter where you turn, you will hear of great tragedy.  You will see desperately sad stories unfold before your eyes.  You will see unexplainable sorrow in the wake of vicious attacks.  It can very quickly seem all together too much to take in.

There is still ~ HOPE~

The darkness will never completely take over the light. 

Have you ever walked into your house late at night and quickly realized that you forgot to leave a light on?  I hate that….totally freaks me out!  But in that moment that you turn on the hall light, or the “flashlight app” on you iPhone, the darkness is pierced and the fears of the unknown vanish. Why?  Because you can see what’s in front of you; everything becomes clear.

Just look at how the Old Testament starts out in Genesis 1:1-5, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

God created the light of this world and we have the Light to this world, Jesus Christ His Son, to pierce the darkness that begs to permeate our lives.  We have the victory over darkness my friends!

John 1:4-5 is a proclamation of a wonderful promise from the Lord for us ~ In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Another promise of victory over the darkness of this world from Jesus is found in the latter chapters in the book of John.  These are His words as He speaks to the disciples before He was crucified.  He was preparing the disciples and had spent time instructing them with the knowledge of God the Father.  I used the Amplified Bible Version below, because I love how striking the verbiage is here.  Jesus gave the disciples, and us today, a cautionary warning of what we WILL indeed face in this world; followed up by a magnificent promise to remind us that we do not need to cower in the face of the trials.  Jesus does not state that His victory might happen or that it could possibly take place….it HAS been accomplished!

John 16:32-33 (AMP) “Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have[perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”

Jesus wanted them to have everything they needed ~ “And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:7).  And He wants US TODAY to have this same peace.  But that cannot come to us on our own.  It is HIS peace that He gives to us ~ all we have to do is ask for it.

Here in John 14:26-28, we find that promise from Jesus as to where we will find peace ~ But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

My friend, be encouraged that you are not just dangling out in space.  You have not been left alone.  You have a grand purpose and calling on your life.  You have been given identity from the King of Kings.  The Creator of the Universe wants to be in relationship with you because you are precious to Him.

The Lord can erase fear and anxiety from your heart and mind because His love is perfect and perfect love drives out fear (I John 4:18).  Sometimes this looks like a period of time in devoted prayer for issues that are surfacing in your life, or simply from a horrible tragedy that is going on in the world.  However, there are times when we need to call out to another person to help us bring those fears and anxieties to the surface and get them out of our life.  There is nothing wrong (or non-Christian) about seeing a counselor.  My only personal recommendation would be to make sure that you see a counselor whose guidance comes from a place of clarity in scripture, so that you are not led astray.

This world is run by the prince of darkness and the Lord warns us about this.  It is this way because of the Fall of Man when sin entered the earth.  This is NOT what the Lord intended! BUT Satan (prince of darkness) has not won; he has not ever nor will he ever, overcome the Son of God. {John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11}

Do not be distressed my friend when fears arise ~ because as I have shared in the many verses above, Jesus Christ has already won the mighty victory!  We win in the end!  We were not created to live in state of fear, but in a place of victory and freedom from eternal death through the resurrection of Jesus!!!

From the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6-7 blesses us with this promise of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth,

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Be strong today. Have courage for tomorrow.  Settle into peace during trials.  Trust that you belong to the mighty King.  Believe in the Prince of Peace who came to bring you Hope!

Blessings,

René

John 1 verses 4 and 5