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My Thoughts on a New York Times article Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin

“My religious fundamentalist childhood was built around the fear of sin. My daughters don’t even know the word.”

This is the sentence that made me open an article from a news source I never read.

‘As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she looked up at me with solemn hazel eyes.

“Mama, what is sin?” she asked.

The merriment of the fair receded and I stared at her, my brain spinning with the magnitude of her question. By failing to teach my child the meaning of the word sin, had I somehow failed to give her a moral foundation?

Sin. That tiny word still makes me cringe with residual fear. Fear of being judged unworthy. Fear of the eternal torture of hell. Fear of my father’s belt.”‘

This is an excerpt from The New York Times article, Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin.

As I read the author’s words, I wanted to reach through the screen and pull her close, hug her, and whisper, “You are known and loved.”

Honestly, without love at the core of everything, we can become focused more on issues than people. If I’m honest, I can lose sight of the people behind the issues they stand upon. We are surrounded by broken hearts in need of truth wrapped in love.

Our life experiences become a filter through which we see life. Had I been raised in the same environment described in this article, I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same way about God and sin.

“God was a megaphone bleating in my head: “You’re bad, you’re bad, you’re bad!” I had recurring nightmares of malevolent winds tornado-ing through my bedroom — a metaphor, I now realize, for an invisible and vindictive god.”

Note the little ‘g’ use for God.

Oh, the deception of the enemy on this precious child of God. Raised in a home that didn’t know God yet used Him as a form of fear and punishment. And what’s a child to do?

Our natural inclination is to project our earthly father onto our Heavenly Father.

No matter how good or heinous our earthly father is, that’s not God. One man in all humanity is a picture of God. Jesus.

Perfect, spotless, righteous, kind, just, loving, tender, merciful. He alone is the only one who can give us a picture of the Father.

“At 17, after being caught “fornicating” with my high school boyfriend, I was sent to a Christian reform school where children were beaten in the name of God. It was there that I learned that religion has nothing to do with goodness and there’s a strong link between zealotry and hypocrisy.”

I agree with her statement. Religion has nothing to do with goodness. The “religious” killed Jesus. Christianity is not a religion. It’s a relationship.

“I lost my faith by fits and starts.”

“Religious brainwashing imposed from infancy is hard to shake, and I continued to confuse “Christian” with “trustworthy” and “moral.”

Again I agree, religious brainwashing is hard to shake. So much evil has been birthed in the name of religion.

Because someone proclaims to be a christian doesn’t make it so. At the same time, I have done and said things that misrepresent Christianity.

“When my husband and I contemplated having children, I wondered how I’d teach them right from wrong without a church. I toyed with the idea of dropping them off at a Sunday school, where they could ingest bite-sized chunks of morality in catchy songs and coloring books. But my husband — Catholic by culture, atheist by intellect — wanted nothing to do with organized religion.”

Implanted deep in the heart of every human is a hunger and thirst for truth, goodness, and love. We were all created in the image of God with a heart designed to love Him and long for Him. That’s why we spend our lives searching for meaning and significance. When we finally encounter the God of the universe, we find our place. Right in His arms, the ones outstretched toward us since the beginning of time.

“As a girl, my focus was on gaining admittance to heaven. Now I believe that this life is the only life we’ll know; this planet, our only existence. I am no longer motivated by fear of an unproven hell, but by real-world concerns about injustice and inequality.”

God, too, is concerned with real-world concerns and injustice. So much so that He sent His only Son to the cross on our behalf. To right the wrongs and defeat evil and death once and for all.

You know, I was once a girl focused on working my way to heaven too. I worked my entire life to be good enough. That was an impossible feat. At various points I’d throw my hands up and say, “It’s just too hard.” And I’d go my own way. At 23 I had an encounter with God. A switch flipped in my brain shining light on the darkness that surrounded my false beliefs of living a perfectly holy life to work my way to God.

I remember saying, “That’s it, God! I get it now. It IS impossible for me to be good enough to make my way to heaven. That’s why you sent Jesus to die in my place.” A lifetime of the knowledge right before my very eyes that I never understood.

It was a word I’d never understood, used in church circles by “good” people. Grace. What in the world did it mean? I thought I knew, but until that light bulb moment, that word lived in the dark of my understanding.

This life isn’t the only life we’ll know. If so, what would be the point of it all? If it simply just ends and goes away. Why? There must be more. There is more.

The author refers to an unproven hell, choosing instead to place her faith in her unproven belief that this life is all we’ll know. Both beliefs require a level of faith. She didn’t lose her faith. She simply took her once faith in a God and placed it her own ideas and thoughts.

But I don’t fault her. The one I fault -Satan. The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The one who is out fighting for souls. To blind the people into believing heaven and hell isn’t real is to win them to the darkness. A forever eternity void of all hope.

“I gazed into Davia’s upturned face and felt a rush of love and happiness. I had raised her without sin.”

None of us are born without a knowledge of sin in our souls. We all know. Deep down we know. While her daughter might not know the term and definition, inside she knows.

“An explanation of sin could wait.”

It was the closing sentence that caught my breath. “An explanation of sin could wait.” It can’t wait. We aren’t promised our next breath. We don’t know the time or day that will be our last moment on this earth. And when we depart, life continues after. The choice is ours. Will we choose heaven or hell? The choosing happens now in this life. Once we depart this life, it’s too late.

This New York Times article reflects the real beliefs of thousands and thousands of people. Would you join me today in praying for the ones who have believed the enemy’s lies? Let’s ask God to intersect our lives with these people who need to hear that God is not an invisible, vindictive God. Let’s wrap them in love and pour into them out of the overflow He’s poured into us.

Time is fleeting.

 

Ready to go deeper with God? To push back the dark? Illuminate is a 14 day devotion to help you focus on who God is as revealed by His Word. It’s the only way to counter the lies of this world- to know Him, His voice, His character. He loves you like crazy.

 

 

How you can truly rest

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.”

Mark 15:33

It was gruesome, bloody, unfair. He was rejected by His own.

His silence speaks.

His eyes find mine. Right now. In this moment.

He wasn’t who they expected. It wasn’t how they imagined a Messiah. He didn’t fit their narrative.

They had ideas of the kind of king they wanted. It wasn’t Jesus.

Yet, He was and is I Am. And this infuriated the religious leaders.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

John 18:4-6

The ones who claimed to know God didn’t know God at all.

Today, I remember. I remember the sacrifice He made.

What God does flows from who He is.

The darkness couldn’t stay because the Light had come. God illuminated the darkness then and He illuminates today.

When I remember who God is, it changes how I see what He does.

May we begin the art of remembering who He really is. The world is working overtime to override what we know. So we make a choice to invest in remembrance.

Today, I remember the sacrifice He made because God is love. Offering His only Son flowed out of who He is. He is love. He is just. He is holy.

Remembering is changing me. It takes my eyes drawn into myself and points them up to Him. As I stand in awe of who He is, all my fears fade away, anxieties dissolve, insecurities vanish.

He is infinitely more than I know. I want to know Him more.

I’m hungry and thirsty.

And I know I’m not alone. I know there are some of you just like me. You desire to know Him deeper. You want more of Him.

So I’ve created a tool to help us learn to remember. It’s a daily practice of refocusing back on God. To His Word. I share stories and His Word. We reflect and contemplate. We pray. We seek. He changes us. He draws us close as we draw near to Him.

He’s ready to do a new thing in you. Will you allow Him?

Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word is a 14 day experience. It’s audio with transcript, slipped quietly into your inbox once a day for 14 days. It’s yours to keep, never expires. You can listen over and over again.

I’ve included a sample from Day 6 – I Am. I pray it blesses you.

You can purchase here.

For more information, click here.

 

How to live fearless in a terrifying world

For an audio recording of today’s post, click here.

It’s been almost a year since our family moved across the country from North Carolina to Nebraska. I’m amazed how fast a year can move.

This very weekend a year ago I was preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. This very weekend a year ago we had just returned from a whirlwind trip to find a house in Nebraska, our house received multiple offers within 48 hours of listing. Much of looking back over the span of those days seems like a blur.

The stress of preparing to move, preparing to speak, homeschooling my kids, leading women’s ministry. But mostly, in the midst of all of that, we wanted to leave well.

We wanted to leave as well as we’d lived in North Carolina. You can read about that here. I tear up as I read the words I wrote last year. I still deeply miss what we left in North Carolina.

We’ve adjusted in Nebraska. It feels like home. We have friends, church, school community, etc.

We know God brought us to Omaha for a reason. He made that very clear to us when the move began.

Friends encouraged me to write down everything God was doing during those weeks we prepared to leave. He was doing so many enormous things at once that the miracles felt impossible to believe. Except for the fact we were living them and watching God move us with supernatural speed and watching Him intertwine our lives with people for divine purposes.

During that season I lived on a spiritual high. I journaled all the Lord was doing because I knew I never wanted to forget. I needed to remember what God was doing.

What God does flows out of who God is.

I wanted to celebrate God for who He is, not only for what He did. I wanted our kids to see we serve a God we can’t begin to fathom.

My facebook timehop reminds me everyday to remember. I see the pictures of a year ago and it triggers an emotion in my soul.

Sometimes these memories bring sadness as I remember, but mostly they bring to recollection a God who has faithfully walked our family through every season of life and who will never change.

Remember is the word the Lord has kept at the front of my mind since Christmas. Life is too volatile and unpredictable to navigate it without remembering the One who holds us steady. He has shown me how quickly I’m tossed about when I forget to remember.

I hear His whispers reminding me not to forget to look back as I look forward. He has always been behind me, and He will always be before me. When I stop for even a brief moment and remember the truth of who He is as revealed in His Word, I can face forward with no fear.

God’s Word urges us to ‘fear not’, yet fear comes so naturally. When I look back at who God has always been, I’m reminded exactly why fear must get off my path. I have a great big God leading my way, and nothing can stop Him. If I follow Him step by step, I truly have nothing to fear.

If I’m being honest with you, it’s easy to talk about being fearless when we are simply talking about facing a change of location or season of life. But what about when we find ourselves in a living nightmare? What about when our worst fears take shape?

Even in the most gut-wrenching moments of this life, God is still good. He is still here. When evil seems to win, we must remember. We must remember the One who has won and will win. We must remember the cross defeated death. We must remember that He promised us there will come a day when we will see Him in His glory and will live in a world where sadness and death don’t exist.

For this time, evil is present. While evil prowls around our world, it is ever more critical we battle-ready ourselves by one simple shift. Remembering.

Remembering who God is, His character and nature. Remembering what God has promised. Remembering what He has done in the past and what He promises for today and the future.

To live fearless in a terrifying world starts with practicing the art of remembrance.

If you’ve been following along here online, you know I’ve been working on an audio devotional series titled illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve promised you I’d share more details as I have them available.

You can find out more about illuminate by clicking here.

And here’s a video too.

Lord, open our eyes to the truth of Your Word. Help us remember who You really are. The world tries to scare us with terrifying news report. And honestly, it is terrifying. We grieve with the families who grieve today, facing nightmares most of us can’t begin to imagine.

For those today facing such sadness and terror, we pray for comfort and peace. We pray for divine appointments. We pray for miracles. We pray for those who don’t know You to receive Your Son. We pray for healing.

We long for the day when You will wipe away every tear. Our hope does not rest in this earthly world. Today, may we choose to remember who You are and what You’ve promised. May we keep our eyes fixed on You so that we can walk fearless in a scary world.

As we walk about our world today, may we have eyes to see the ones who live hopeless and scared. May we boldly share the hope we have everywhere we go.

Amen.

How Remembering Can Change Everything In Your Life

audio devotional

To listen to today’s post, click this link

“Such reminiscence can be healthier than you think. Despite nostalgia’s bittersweet rap and the oft-heard advice to live in the moment, studies suggest that the occasional detour down memory lane can give your spirits a significant lift.

Thinking of good memories for just 20 minutes a day can make people more cheerful than they were the week before, and happier than if they think of their current lives, report researchers from Loyola University.”

A secular article published in Psychology Today notes what God already knows to be true. He asks us to remember for a reason. Remembering who God is reminds us that no matter what we face, we have a faithful God who will guide us through it.

If I don’t remember, I will forget. Remember is an action verb. It is something we actively do.

There are many things I want to forget. Like two weeks ago, which was disastrous for me because I allowed the enemy to cover me with condemnation for every failure. What I wanted to forget, the enemy made sure I remembered.

In my kickboxing class last weekend, the instructor told us to destroy the prior week in our workout. I worked out so hard, I did a little number on my back. I desperately wanted to destroy the previous week.

God kept whispering for me to remember.

I remembered a post I wrote about 5 years ago titled How to Remember So We Can Forget.

If you haven’t read it, it’s a quick read on the power of remembering.

“In an instant we were all taken back to a time of beloved, treasured memories. Going back took us out of the current moment, which was filled with disagreement and strife. We were transported to a time of encouragement and were reminded of how much we loved each other. The boys never finished their argument that day. Remembering had changed their perspective.

Sometimes remembering can help us forget. Remembering the past can help us forget the discomfort of the present.”

I’m studying the book of Matthew this year through Community Bible Study. My homework brought me to this passage:

Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected?  Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected?'”

Matthew 16:8-10

Don’t you remember? Jesus asks.

The disciples were quick to forget and fall into worry about the problem in front of them. I do the same thing. Jesus instructed them to look back. Looking back will cause us to move forward with confidence if we are careful what we look back on.

Why don’t I remember? Because I’ve not made it a habit or a discipline. Instead I’ve allowed anxiety and fear to create habits.

Yet even if I stopped for 30 seconds to remember who He is, everything changes. Instantly.

But do we know accurately who He is?

What we remember is critical.

Who we remember is even more critical.

I’ve created an audio devotional experience titled Illuminate – Seeing God by the light of His Word in order to help us create the habit of remembering who God is. Illuminate is 14 days of looking at the question “Who is God? Really?”

Illuminate takes us back to the beginning. It doesn’t attempt to define God or explain God. It simply turns our attention to our Creator in order that our affections follow. My prayer is that God will take you deeper into your walk with Him. That you will see Him through refreshed eyes and a revived heart.

Here’s how Illuminate will work. It will release here on the blog (soonish), so if you aren’t signed up to receive email updates, you can do that here. After purchasing, you will receive one email each day for 14 days. 7 days will focus on the character and nature of God, while 7 days will be reflective, taking us straight into scripture and a time of prayer. In the days of reflection, I will guide you through questions you can ponder in your heart.

 

What others are saying about Illuminate


“Renee Robinson has a gift for seeing the invisible. Passionate about God and Scripture, Renee notices the light in the darkness and points our attention to it. In Illuminate, a 14-day study of short meditations, readers and listeners find hopeful reminders of who God is and how to find Him in our busy, overwhelmed lives. With calming reassurance this study helps us see current events in light of eternal promises – and how God can be trusted with it all.”

Kari Kampakis, blogger, speaker, and author of 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?


“We live in a world of hurry that seldom stops to consider the glory and majesty of God.  Illuminate will help you get still, take a deep breath, and set your mind on God.  If you want to be less rushed and more peace filled, this is a beautiful resource to enjoy.”

 

I’ve Been Keeping a Secret

 

“Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for me. I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.” Psalm 66:16

If I don’t tell you soon, I may burst. I feel as if I’ve been keeping a secret from you, and I need to let you in.

I have a new project I’ve been hard at work on! I’ve poured hours into creating, writing, praying, listening, pondering. I’ve wondered. I’ve desired. And Lord willing, I will be releasing to you what the Holy Spirit birthed in me.

I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll back up a bit and give you a little more insight into why this project and why now.

About 3 months ago the Lord impressed on me that He was about to give birth to something new in me. For weeks He poured in idea after idea. My brain was spinning with excitement. But I didn’t know where to focus, which project to start first. I wanted to do them all. And now. Right away.

Then in an instant one day I received complete clarity from the Lord. He gave me the title, the format, and then asked that I let Him lead me day by day.

The next morning I raced away from my quiet time with the Lord. I ran to my writing room while the house slept. I opened my Bible and I opened my journal. And with a speed I’ve never experienced, I wrote as He poured through me.

The writing was by hand, which never happens for me. I always write on my keyboard. But it was as if everything was different with this project. An unfamiliar approach. A different way of listening and creating.

As God directed my time of writing, He brought each day to a feeling of completion. This happened day by day. He didn’t give me the writing prompts and ideas for anything beyond the very day He showed me what to write about.

Before I sat down to begin writing this project, I had a list of what I thought I would focus on. But each day I asked God to fill me with His Spirit and lead me. Each day He directed me in a direction I found surprising.

As I dove deeply into His Word then into my writing, I began to fall more madly in love with God. I found myself unable to stop thinking of Him. My heart felt revived.

What He was revealing to me, I was writing for you. Because I’ve experienced this renewal in my soul, I am literally giddy with excitement to bring it to you.

I don’t have an exact release date just yet, but know it will be soon! And the format is what I’m so excited about it. It’s an audio devotion with a transcript for the reading lover. 14 days reflecting on this question. Who is God? Really.

I’ve walked with God for many years now, but there is so much of who He is I’m still discovering. If I know Him intimately, why do I find my fears continue to drive my thoughts? Why does my anxiety wreak havoc in my soul? Why does my sense of unimportance create a lack of drive in me or a lack of belief that God can and will use me? Or why do I let my past failures and broken relationships define my next steps?

If I know the truth of who God really is, why am I so quick to forget?

I want to remember who God is by the light of His Word. He has revealed Himself to us and given us the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us who He is.

We have relied on the internet to tell us who He is. We have relied on podcasts, books, bloggers, pastors, and teachers, to tell us who He is. While these are wonderful supplements, I wonder if His Word has become the supplement to all else we use to reveal Him to us?

So then why am I not just ending here and saying, “Go read the Word.”

Because as I sat in His Word, He began showing me Who He is and instructed me to take it to you as a journey we will take together. To guide you through this journey you will take with Him.

I will be like your tour guide. For 14 days, I will be your traveling companion. Together we will read His Word, we will pray, we will meditate on His Word, I will share reflections and thoughts with transparency and honesty.

I believe you and I struggle with some of the same things. God wouldn’t cause this passion in me for me to simply experience Him on my own and hoard it all for myself. He’s asked me to give to you out of the gifts He’s given me.

I’m asking for your prayers over me and my family as I bring this project to completion and release it to the world. Writing brings the enemy to alert.

I’m not concerned. After what I’ve just learned in my writing this devotion for you, I’m ready to keep my eyes fixed on the character of God.

I’m going deeper with Him and want you to come along with me!

Stay tuned for release dates and information about how you can help launch when we are ready!

Coming soon…..

written and read to you by me, Renee Robinson.