The best inheritance

You hear stories of a loved one passing away, the will being read, disgruntled relatives fighting over inheritance expectations and rights. It destroys relationships. We are so self-focused we believe we are “owed” something in this life. We spend our earthly lives building our kingdom here.

Contrast this with God’s words to the Levitical priests in Deuteronomy 18:2 “They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.”

What a striking verse.

The greatest gift, blessing, or inheritance is the very presence of God, His absolute nearness. The Levitical priests spent their time serving in the presence of God. They experienced what others didn’t. That blessing would never compare to an earthly gift or inheritance.

Do I believe that? Deep down in my soul? You see it’s easy to say I do, but do I REALLY? I want to. And desire is the first step towards the shift.

“…As He promised.” His promise we can take to the bank. It’s guaranteed. He is also our inheritance. Because of Jesus, we have a priest in Jesus. We have direct access to the throne room of God. We can experience His nearness daily. Do we believe it? Is He enough? Am I satisfied with Him alone so that I live being owed nothing by the world?

The words portion and inheritance are often used interchangeably. This is my prayer from Lamentations 3:24 and Psalm 73:26 today: Lord you are my portion. Therefore, I will hope in you. My flesh and my heart may fail but you, God, are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. May you truly be my portion. Amen.

The Blessed Warning

We stopped at the guard shack before starting our Arizona hike. The kind couple working the gate was a wealth of knowledge. Their love for their jobs was apparent in how careful they were to inform us of all the interesting wildlife and vegetation we should expect to encounter.

As the sweet lady completed highlighting our route, she handed the map over to me. She warned, “Oh, I must warn you. There is one thing you must not touch or even get close to. It’s called a Teddy Bear Cactus. It looks like something soft and cuddly, like a teddy bear you’d want to grab and hug, but it’s not what it seems.”

The warning didn’t stop there. She told us that a teddy bear cactus could actually leap toward us if we moved too close to it. My mind was spinning trying to envision this man-eating cactus that might attempt to chase me up the path. Apparently, this type of cactus has stems that disconnect quite easily. The spines have barbs that burrow into the muscle fiber and make it painfully difficult to remove. Needless to say, we spent our hike looking more closely for a loose teddy bear cactus stem than we did watching for rattlesnakes.

I’m grateful for the warning about the cactus and even more grateful for the warnings we find in scripture: “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs’” (Luke 12:1-3).

The danger of hypocrisy is how it can lead people astray. It can fool and blind those who are unable to discern. The teddy bear cactus appears to be soft and cuddly, but in reality, it is harmful to us. The Pharisees Jesus warned about were guilty of hypocrisy, and in His kindness, Jesus warned His followers.

Warnings found throughout scripture are there to guide and protect us. They are filled with God’s love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and blessing. Sometimes we hear warnings and choose to ignore them. Sometimes we disbelieve there’s true danger. But when we believe we are hearing a warning from God, we can focus on His nature and character. He loves and cares for us. He desires us to follow truth and not find ourselves at the hands of deception or a prickly, barbed cactus.

In order to strengthen our discernment muscles we can do two things: pray and read the Bible regularly. God delights in answering our requests to become greater discerners in a culture filled with competing ideas to Biblical truth. The more time we spend soaking in God’s Word, the more equipped we are to spot hypocrisy when it presents itself to us. We must be on our guard as Jesus warned us.

As I reflected back to our hike among the prickly teddy bear cacti, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s faithful warning and protection. He kept me safe from a plant that appeared soft and cuddly but in reality would pierce my skin and cause severe pain.  His heart is to keep us on the safe path. His “word is a lamp for our feet, a light on our path” (Psalm 119:105). On His safe path, we can trust that little by little we will see growth.

This devotion was first published on Rooted Moms Ministries. I’m on the RM Writer’s Team and have been so blessed by the ministry. Check out their website and see how it feeds your soul too!
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Silent Saturday Speaks

Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday. But Saturday happened too. On this side of the resurrection 2000 years later, we can rest on Saturday because Sunday happened. On Good Friday we rejoice because Sunday is coming.

But His mother and disciples who lived on the day of waiting before Sunday arose. What did they do?

They rested.

Luke 23:56 “Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” WHOA!

As we worshiped on Good Friday the Lord whispered to me about Saturday. It’s barely mentioned in the gospels. But it was there. An act of obedience.

To rest is to lay down our strive and to abide and trust. It’s easy for us to rest on this Saturday because we know the outcome. The question is can we rest in our “Saturdays” in which we haven’t lived through our “Sundays” just yet. So we haven’t seen the outcome, the hope risen, our circumstance redeemed or resurrected.

Today may we mourn the death and rest in the wait of our hope. Saturday, between the death of Friday and resurrection of Sunday, is a day of deep trust, obedient rest, and the wait.

May we wait well. May we trust and obey. For there’s no other way.

Let Your Kids Be Disappointed – It’s Real Life

How do any of us grow? By walking through circumstances that require it. As a young mom, I lacked patience with my kids. I was quick to snap. After praying for patience, God called me to homeschool. Years of day in and day out trying my patience, and I see growth in that area. It’s been H.A.R.D.

Growth is a process filled with growing pains. As parents we have a role to help our kids grow. This is the opposite of setting them up for an amazing, success-filled, perfect, Disney World like life. I fear many parents in today’s culture are trying to create an amazing life for their kids rather than prepare kids who can function in a harsh and often cruel world.

Raising strong kids

As parents we want to raise strong kids. We want them to be able to withstand the storms life will bring them. We’ve heard the saying, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” Are we doing that?

There’s a trend in parenting of cleaning the road of all obstacles so the child doesn’t trip, and when they do, mom and dad swoop in to make it all right.

When we hear of a kid being mean to our kid, we jump in and work out the problem for them. When a teacher gives a low grade on a paper, mom and dad email the teacher wanting answers. When the teen didn’t get the job, mom and dad call the employer. When our kid is cut from the team, we demand answers and work to fix it.

Yes, we should advocate for our kids, but at the same time, there are times we need to step back and see how they move forward. We can advise and guide them. We don’t want to raise victims who look at life as always being against them. We want to raise adults who realize life is hard, but with the grace of God we can manage hard things well.

As a parent, when our child faces disappointment, we have an opportunity to empathize, while pointing them to Jesus.

We are raising adults

We have a job to raise adults. As adults we face losses, unfair circumstances, disappointments, and failures. This is life. What’s important is how we handle them when they come. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

In 2010 Steve and I vacationed in Hawaii to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Awakened at 5:00am by the report of an earthquake in Chile, which would result in a Tsunami in Hawaii, I went into full melt down mode. The message I received was one of imminent death by drowning. I’ll never forget the words of the news anchor, “It’s not a matter of if, but one of when and how bad.” I’m embarrassed to say, I did not handle our situation well at all.

As a mom, I want my kids to grow into adults who understand that life brings hard moments. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad. I want them prepared to handle it by the grace of God.

We are not their Savior

A few weeks ago Andrew texted me from school. He was having some difficult interactions, which led to him feeling sad and wanting to leave school. We’d talked through these issues before. As the texts increased I realized he was looking to me to be his rescuer.

Our role is not to be our child’s Rescuer or Savior, but to point them to the One who is.

My mama instinct was to swoop in, bring him home, comfort him, and make it all right. But this would only help him in the short term. One day mama won’t be there to make it all better. However, there is One who will always be with us and will never ever leave or forsake us.

I responded to his text, “You can’t leave school. Pray. God will help you. I will pray too.” And I did. I prayed and prayed. His text later let me know he felt much better.

Our children need God more than they need a mom and dad to solve all their problems. Yes, we have a high calling to comfort, protect, nurture, advocate, and help. But we are not their end all answer, or at least we shouldn’t be.

Children and teens need to learn to have their own faith, not an extension of our faith. My faith can’t hold my kids up. It has to be their own. It has to be real and genuine. Real faith usually develops out of necessity. I’ve decided I’m ok with my kids experiencing hard times so they can learn to grow in their faith.

When Disappointment Comes

I took a trip to Florida recently. I wanted to take Andrew with me, but he had his first baseball game. The day of the game the weather called for rain. I began praying it wouldn’t rain. I mean PRAYING. The thought of Andrew’s disappointment over not going to Florida with me because of a game that wasn’t played bothered me more than it should have.

I took a step back. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Plain and simple. I wanted him to have everything go the way it “should” go. But that is not reality. That is not real life.

Rather than praying away possible disappointments, I should pray my child has a strong enough faith to turn those disappointments over to Jesus, the one who cares about every hurt we face and comforts us when no one else is there.

The real role of parents

The pressure of culture today in our see all social media world is to present a picture perfect picture of our kids and our family. If our kids fail, what does it say about me as a mom? Did I fail too? If they make bad grades, does it mean I am a failure because I didn’t support them enough? If they don’t make the team, did I fail to get them the help they needed?

I believe one of the reasons we try so hard to create a smooth road for our kids is because we fear what it reflects on us. What will people think of us?

One of my more embarrassing parenting moments happened when my kids made their own volcano for a science project. It felt as if my kids were the only ones who brought in a project that looked like a kid made it. I was embarrassed wondering if all the parents thought I was a slack mom who doesn’t spend enough time helping her kids out.

But I got over it. I realized it was ok if my kids were embarrassed because they didn’t put in more effort. If they care enough, then next time they will. And if they don’t care enough, well that is ok too. It’s ok to not be amazing at everything. It’s ok to do the best we can without pushing ourselves to be the absolute best.

Our role as parents is to love, support, nurture, guide, discipline, and more than anything point them to Jesus.

Our role is not to make sure they have a smooth road to travel. It’s to be there when they fall, tell them we love them. It’s to be there when they are disappointed and empathize while reminding them there is only One who doesn’t disappoint. It’s to support them on their journey without pressuring them to be more than God created them to be, which is simply a human loved by Him.


If you want to read more on this topic, I wrote a post years ago about letting our kids fail. Dear Son, Why I Want You To Fail


Looking for a special gift for Easter? Add Scripture pillowcases to their Easter basket to remind them of the One who never fails!

 

My response to Dave Ramsey’s Waffle House Advice

I was speechless after I watched clips of Dave Ramsey speaking at Elevation Church. I’m never shocked by what I hear from the stage of Elevation anymore, but Dave surprised me. I shouldn’t be so easily surprised.

Click here to watch the clip

I disagree with Dave’s contempt towards leaving a gospel tract. There is no better way to “drip the Holy Spirit” than to literally share the message of the cross. To communicate that dropping a few “Benjamins” is better than dropping the message of salvation is utterly jaw dropping.

$300-$400 isn’t going to change anyone’s life in the long run. Yes, for the day, the week, or the month. But how about for eternity?

“You’ve changed her net worth,” he tells the audience. Changing net worth is not comparable to changing someone’s eternal address.

A few years ago Zachary and I had a Waffle House experience. I’ll never forget it. I wish I’d been bolder. I’m still growing.

When Waffle House Became Our Mission Field 

Lord, Open our eyes to those around us who need salvation. Give us words and boldness. Give us the desire to speak the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Testing my fruit

The moment I bit into the grape I spit it in the trash. It was mushy and flavorless. The rest of the grapes were perfection – so firm they had a slight crunch to them and oozing with juiciness. A few days later, I pulled that same bowl of grapes from the fridge to pack some in Steve’s lunch. I felt each one giving it the firmness test. Each grape that gave into my squeeze found a home in the trash. As it turned out, only a handful of grapes made the cut of those worthy of a lunch spot.

Rotten fruit isn’t appealing to anyone. It’s repulsive and brings no value or enjoyment. But a vibrant, healthy display of fruit makes one’s mouth water. The more we eat healthy fruit, the more we crave it.

At points in our lives, we are wise to test the fruit in our spiritual lives. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

How is my love? Am I critical of others or seeing the best in them because my heart is filled with the love of God?

How is my joy? Do I look around at what is wrong in my life or do I thank God for the gift of salvation and find joy in His love?

How is my peace? Am I filled with anxiety and worry, wrenching my hands wondering how it will all work out?

How is my forbearance? Am I enduring my circumstances well and allowing God to help me persevere or am I grumbling and complaining?

How is my kindness? Am I friendly, considerate – putting others before myself, or generous? Or am I crabby, pushing to the front or annoyed at the people around me?

How is my goodness? Am I growing in desiring to do good works. They don’t save me, but if I’m spiritually healthy, I WANT to do good.

How is my faithfulness? Am I reliable, dependable, a person of my word? Can you count on me? Am I steady and sure?

How is my gentleness? What is the tone of my voice? How are my reactions? What words come out of my mouth?

How is my self-c0ntrol? Am I controlling my urges – emotional and physical. Am I controlling my temper, my thoughts, my desires?

When I look at the spiritual fruit in my life, does it look like a banquet people are drawn to or more like the old fruit in the fridge waiting to be tossed?

What if we find our fruit is more rotten than ripe?

  • Confess to God.
  • Ask God to help you grow healthy fruit. Name the ones you struggle with most.
  • Read your Bible daily. It’s how we grow in Him. If we aren’t in His Word, we can be sure our fruit will rot.
  • Write scripture on notecards that apply to the various fruits of the Spirit you are focusing on.
  • Pray. Stay connected to the One who loves us and wants the very best for us.

 

 

 

 

The Girl I Turned Away

“Not again,” I muttered as I climbed the steps to answer the door. The large tote the girl carried told me all I needed to know about the visitor. Over the last two weeks, we’ve bought several stashes of candies and cookie doughs that we certainly don’t need. The members of my family simply can’t say no to a solicitor. Not me. No comes a bit too easily to me.

I answered the door with my no response at the ready. She told me what she was selling and what organization would benefit. I asked if she could leave some information for me to look into. Maybe I would donate online.

“No ma’am. I don’t have any information.”
“Ok, I’ll write down the organization name and find it. Have a nice night.”

As I began to step back inside, she asked, “Ma’am do you have some water you can give me?”

Without hesitation, I responded, “Yes! I’ll be right back.” I grabbed a water bottle and handed it to her wishing her a good evening.

With the closing of the door, I heard the whisper, “When I was thirsty, you gave me water to drink.” The conviction was immediate. I raced down the stairs relaying to Steve what happened. He shook his head, “Renee, this is the same organization that comes every year. They keep teens out of gangs. I never take the candy bar, but I always give them money. It’s not our job to research, we just need to give. Grab money from my wallet and go see if you can find her.”

I jumped in my car and set out down the street knowing she couldn’t get too far. I spotted her crossing the street approaching another home. She set her large tote down several times to rest her arms and reposition her load. When I pulled up to the house she was about to visit, I could see her confused look.

I rolled down the window and waved her over. She approached my car, and I handed her the money. “Here you go. Thank you and have a great night.” She thanked me and simply walked back to her job.

I prayed, “Lord, forgive me for failing to see the people and opportunities you placed before me. Forgive me for holding tightly to what you ask me to give freely. Help me have your perspective and heart. Amen.”

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-40

How do you recognize the voice of God in our lives? We know His Word. We’ve read it so often that when He speaks, we recognize His voice. When I heard God speak, I knew those words weren’t mine. They were the Lord’s.

Do you read the Bible daily? If not, can I lovingly challenge you to begin this one daily discipline that will radically change your life.