What the Christian Response Reveals in Tumultuous Times

“Stop your fighting–and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:10

We win!

“We win!” These are the words I continue to hear from the mouths and fingertips of christians in this volatile political and social season.

What does that mean?

  • If your preferred candidate wins office who most closely represents Biblical values?
  • If justice prevails in the courts?
  • If corruption is exposed and justice meted?

I’ve been baffled by these statements. Haven’t christians already won? Was the cross not enough of a victory? Did we forget God showed us the ending? Or have we misapplied His words and promises to fit our desires?

Exposing Idols

We have an idolatry problem. We have placed our rights, our comforts, and our freedoms on the altar. We’ve decided we will do anything and everything to keep what we want. In our desperation to protect our idols, we attack, we fight, and we demand.

We’ve idolized understanding, believing it is our right to know and understand all that is taking place. “Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His.” Job 12:13

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love my life, my rights, and my comforts. I desire to stay informed. But are we desiring these in the name of justice and righteousness to the point we stopped caring about the watching world observing our fight?

Have we bitten the apple which bites back? Eve bit the apple, which she believed would give her wisdom and understanding of good and evil. We follow in her footsteps desiring to know more than God has unveiled for us to know. As it turns out we live in an age of more information than a soul or mind can handle. May we consume with great caution.

Information is “uncovered” and shared, and believers claim God is unveiling. Friends, satan appears as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) A friend posted the most dangerous tool we’ve used in the last year is the share button. I tend to agree with her.

What have we won? We can be right and lose.

Steve’s words echo in my mind, “You can be right and still lose.” More than being right is communicating the message. God has tasked us as His ambassadors to tell the world about all the corruption and demand justice. Oh, wait. No He hasn’t.

We can be absolutely right about much going on in the world, but how we communicate to a hopeless world is the difference between life and death for eternity.

Here’s our actual assignments:

  • Go and make disciples“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19
    • In our fighting, demanding, and posting, we are losing disciples. We are absolutely pushing away those God desires come to Him.
  • Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44
    • The christian culture is slaying the enemies with words and posts and calls to rise up.
    • The American church doesn’t understand persecution, so when our fears become a potential threat, we fight. The majority of the world on the other side of the globe lives under true persecution.
    • We are different. We can love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
  • Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
    • I don’t interpret act justly as demand justice. Yes, God is a just God. He demands justice. But He brings it. Some of us are used in our vocations or callings to do just that. But others of us are taking scripture and modifying it to give us permission to act out of our idolatrous desires.
    • Act. Love. Walk. These are all what we do, not demand of those around us. We act justly to all. We love mercy and show it. We walk humbly, not as one who is right and knows all.

Don’t be surprised by trouble.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Our peace isn’t in this world. It’s in Him. Christians we’ve veered off course and it’s time to come back. The world needs peace. It’s not found in a political system. Doesn’t history reveal this?

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19

Silence the world to hear God

God directed me off social media several weeks ago. He didn’t say why. He didn’t say it was temporary or permeant. I’ve stopped asking God to give me explanations and understanding and have found the freedom in simply saying yes to Him.

Everything has changed in my heart as it relates to what is happening in our country right now.

I’ve been sad, mad, and scared. I started 2020 quite vocal in my thoughts and opinions. Some of those may be right, but my love began to grow cold. I was becoming cynical, self-righteous, and prideful.

I began seeing people through the lens of social media posts, narrowing them down to judgements based on 100 words they shared.

God called me out of it into a time of resting in His embrace.

Expect persecution and prepare now. How should christians respond?

It’s only in America we feel surprised by persecution. In his book, The Blessing of Humility, Jerry Bridges writes, “I predict the various types of nonphysical persecution will become more widespread and intense.”

“So we need to be prepared to respond in ways that honor God.”

This is what is weighing down my heart. How are we responding to the idea or threat of coming persecution?

Bridges continues, “I suspect that our own court system will eventually fail us, as more and more judges are appointed who have been trained in law schools that at best are indifferent to biblical righteousness and at worst are openly hostile to it.”

“It is quite apparent that the Bible no longer has moral authority in society as a whole. So we should expect increasing marginalization of Christians, and in some instances curtailment of our religious freedom. How should we respond? Certainly not in a combative cultural-warfare attitude. Rather, it should be based on the principle Jesus taught in Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“As I observe the response of so many Christians to the eroding of what have been called “traditional values,” I am concerned that we are acting no differently than many nonbelievers who may care nothing about the Bible but who want to defend those values. Instead of loving those whose actions and lifestyles we oppose, we seem to engage in some form of action that is inconsistent with Jesus’ admonition to love our enemies.” 

Persecution brings blessing

In the following quote, Bridges sums up what has been stirring in my heart during my social media absence.

“Another important question is, How will we respond if our religious freedom is curtailed and our court protection fails us? Will we consider ourselves to be blessed because of being reviled or persecuted for righteousness’ sake? When push comes to shove, will we really believe that God is sovereign over all the affairs of humanity?”

“Will we believe that, despite many appearances to the contrary, Jesus is building His church and ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18)?”

Bridges states he asks these questions because he himself doesn’t know how he would respond when that day should come.

I’m realizing about myself that my eternal mindset needs to be sharpened. It’s time to live what we claim to believe. It’s time to smash our idols and be willing to love our enemies and pray for them. It’s time to see that it’s an honor to join Christ in His sufferings.

The American church, the American political system were never promised in the Bible. I love America. But we are not of this world. (John 17:16) Maybe we should live that way.

What do I want Jesus to say to me?

I don’t imagine Jesus will say to me, “Great political posts that incited your friends and enemies.” He likely won’t say, “Great job in turning the eyes of all who watched back onto world events and leading a crusade to protect your rights.” It’s unlikely He will say, “Great job using your wisdom to seek out all the mysteries I had hidden for your protection.”

You know what I want to hear Him say? Something along these lines:

  • “You joined in my sufferings well. Well done, faithful servant.”
  • “Well done, faithful servant, you kept your eyes fixed on me, what was unseen rather than seen.”
  • “Good job, child of Mine, you trusted in My righteousness and justice to prevail rather than fighting for your own.”
  • “Thank you for praying for those who persecuted my church. Many of them have joined you here today because of those prayers.”
  • “Well done waiting for my timing. It was but a mist. Here is your reward.”

Repent

Friends, I’m repenting. I’ve fought God in my heart as I claimed to fight for His ways. I’ve been wrong in many ways as I’ve navigated this unsettling season. But God is good, patient, and kind.

It’s our responsibility as the church to represent the truth of who He is. Jesus is the only answer. The only solution. The only way to true peace.

Peace will not be found here apart from Christ.

I encourage you to read Isaiah 41 as you ponder these words and seek God for your next steps in this season.

He will return for His church. We will stand in eternity and realize our time on earth was quite short. We have work to do to bring souls with us. Let’s be careful and wise as we move forward.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

 

Does God Love the Righteous or the Riotous?

The Riotous on the move

Enough. My soul could handle no more. I turned my phone off.

Images of angry rioters chanting in streets, storming the Capitol, vowing for “justice” filled my news feed. This is nothing new to human history, but it does feel the last year has revealed the riotous heart of humans more than we’ve ever seen. I thanked the Lord He’d already led me to break from social media. I knew my soul would wilt under the weight of opinions and information overload.

God’s Heart for the Riotous

The Lord gave me two words: riotous and righteous, which I wrote in my journal. These are the whispers of God. He will give me words and phrases, but He will speak to me directly through His Word.

Following my Bible in a year reading guide, I opened to Matthew 9. My desire is to read familiar stories this year with fresh eyes.

God’s heart jumped off the page. “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

What I heard was, “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the riotous.”

When the Righteous Repent

How like the Pharisees my heart can lead. My righteous indignation flares at the violence and anger swirling our nation into turmoil. I can cry out to the Lord to end the anger, deal justice where justice is due. Seeing my goodness in the face of flagrant sin is easy. Oh how Pharisaical we become.

May we “righteous” repent.

May we thank God Jesus has imparted His righteousness to us, without which we remain riotous in heart if not externally.

One of my boys borrowed a bar of soap from my shower. I keep it in a plastic container so it maintains its hard shape. The borrower of my soap failed to put the soap in the protective case, exposing it to a steady stream of rinsing water. Later when I tried to take the soap from the case, it molded into my hands like soft putty ready to take new shape and form.

Repentance softens our heart. A repentant heart gives itself over to the loving, shaping hands of the Father, effectively saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t need to place myself in my own protective case. I trust You, Lord.”

Riotous vs Righteous

What I see in culture is the “righteous” taking a stand against the “riotous.” The stand needed today is from our knees. Jesus came for the sinner, the rioter, the idolator, the drunkard, the adulterer. His heart is for the ones who don’t know Him.

Yet, I forget this everyday my righteous anger breaks out in my heart. As I read in Matthew 9 when Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, my heart began to soften. The heart of Jesus breaks me.

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13

Go and learn

Jesus gives us an instruction for today as much as He did to the Pharisees. Go and learn.

Am I willing to learn what His heart desires over what my human heart decides is right?

He desires mercy.

The definition of mercy is this:

  • the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty
  • compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
  • something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:

This is what He desires for us over our sacrifice. That our hearts be merciful, full of compassion toward the one who doesn’t yet know the heart of the Father.

What is Right? Where do we go from here?

Justice is vital in a safe society. I’m not saying rioters must be excused from their behaviors. But these are the ones Jesus came and died for. He came that all would know Him.

So what if the righteous effectively prayed for the riotous? Would this not form a more powerful weapon in our hands than the anger and judgement desiring to control our hearts?

What if we assumed a new position? On our knees.

We’ve lived many years in America where hearts lived under the cover of being fine. Circumstances are pressing on us revealing the truth of what hides in the heart, exposing the ones who thought they knew God but don’t yet, exposing the depth of our fears.

Does God love the righteous or the riotous? Both. May we remember.

Is God Who He Says He is?

He is good, King, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere always. He is still on His throne.

Join me in thanking Him for His merciful heart, without which we’d all live hopeless. That merciful heart given to us is given for all, the righteous and riotous alike. May we repent of our arrogance and pride and humbly plead on behalf of those resisting the loving hands of the Father. There is not a hard heart, He can’t soften with His rinsing love.

Thank you, Jesus.

What lies do we believe?

My temptation when reading familiar scripture is to skim. Familiarity can block us from seeing what we’ve missed before.

Our church follows a Bible reading plan which is the Bible in six years followed by year seven reading the Bible in one year. This is the year to read the Bible in a year. I’ve attempted this multiple times and failed. This year my husband and I are leading a small group, so the accountability will hold us to the challenge.

As I began reading in Genesis 3, I slowed down to intentionally read as though I’d not read this passage hundreds of times. That’s when I saw what I’ve missed in prior readings.

A little backstory. In Genesis 2:16-17 God instructs Adam with the words “….you are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” (emphasis added)

God is a God of freedom. Before He instructed Adam of what he should avoid, He started with pointing out what he was free to enjoy. Everything except the one thing.

God is good, and if something is off limits it’s only because God sees what we don’t see. It is for our good.

Jump to Genesis 3 and we notice the serpent doesn’t approach Adam, who had firsthand knowledge of what God said. He approached Eve with his lie.

The serpent plants the seed of doubt in Eve’s mind by posing the question, “Did God really say…..”

We don’t see Eve’s thoughts as she pondered the question. But we know how we toss and turn the doubts in our own minds.

While Eve is stating what God said, the serpent quickly added in his interpretation, which consisted of twisting God’s words into a lie.

The enemy is a liar. Plain and simple. He is a master at one thing. Lying. His goal is to speak lies in such a way that we accept and believe them.

The enemy desires we eat his lies.

In this all too familiar passage of scripture, this well-known story we’ve heard since Sunday school, I noticed something I’ve missed.

Genesis 3:6 “Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

The enemy fed the lie, planted doubt about the goodness of God, and waited. Eve considered his lie, which led to her accepting the lie and acting on it in sin.

All it took was consideration of the lie. Considering a lie about who God is, His nature and His goodness, is taking one step into the trap the enemy sets before us.

Consideration of the lie caused Eve to see her reality and surroundings in a new light, one cloaked in darkness.

The word “then” in Genesis 3:6 called me to pay greater attention.

Doubt changes what we see.

Lies morph truth into a false reality.

What we read in the Bible is that once the enemy offered the tantalizing lie to Eve, she looked at the tree and saw it the way the enemy described it to her. She noticed it was pleasing to the eye and offered good looking fruit, which all the other trees offered as well, but she saw it was “desirable for obtaining wisdom.”

God never said the tree offered wisdom. Wisdom comes from God alone.

“For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Considering the lie gave birth to desire. Desire led to acting on the sin.

Then the woman saw…..So she took some of its fruit…….

Following the seeds of doubt planted by the enemy, we see the “then the woman saw…..so she took some of its fruit…..”

What lies are you currently believing about the goodness of God? Do you believe God is good? Always or sometimes? To others or to you too?

If these questions seem to poke you toward discomfort, I have some resources to suggest.

 

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty.

I read this in 2016 and it opened my eyes to the goodness of God in all situations. She posed a question in her book: Is God good to me? 

Yes, we “know” God is good. But do we believe it to our core? And do we believe He is good to us? Even when we aren’t receiving what we’ve begged to receive? Do we trust His goodness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The God-Shaped Brain by Dr. Timothy R. Jennings.

I read this book in 2020 and was deeply impacted by the stories he shared about how what people believed about God impacted their health, choices, and life. It was both powerful and deeply insightful.

This book caused me to really look at the lies I hold about who God is and how that can lead me towards choices that aren’t for my good and God’s glory. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ebook devotional

 

Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word by Renee Robinson

To overcome the lies and combat our fears and worries, we must know who God is. His character, His nature. The only way to fight against the darkness the enemy sends is to illuminate our world by the light of God’s Word. That holds full truth so we can cast out the lies we hold in our minds and hearts.

Illuminate is a 14 day devotion focusing on various aspects of who God is so when we are faced with the enemy’s planted seeds of doubts, we will choose not to consider his lies and walk into his trap.

When you purchase illuminate you will receive an audio devotion each day for 14 days. In addition you will receive the pdf transcript. Both are yours forever to revisit as often as you need.

 

If today’s devotion spoke to you, please share on your social media platforms or send to a friend who may be encouraged as well.

 

 

Trusting God with a perfectly failed plan

Of all this year challenged me with, the one that stands out most is the thought of how much I actually trust God. When circumstances make zero sense or simply don’t follow the plan I hoped for, how quick am I to reach toward frustration? This year exposed the impatience which dwells in me.

The last day of the year can hold a tinge of pressure as we look back and assess the last 365 days.

  • Did we learn anything?
  • Did we grow?
  • Did we reach our goals?
  • Did we grieve our losses well?
  • Did we heal?
  • Did we forgive?
  • Did we achieve?
  • Did we strengthen our faith?

As I typically do when the year draws to a close, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned.

For Christmas this year, we gifted our boys with a trip instead of material gifts. We’ve done this several times over the years. This time we flew out the day after Christmas to enjoy five days in Arizona. While soaking in the Arizona sun, the Lord began showing me  some similarities in how I plan trips with how I attempt to plan my life.

Intentionality is important to me. Without intention, so much is at risk for loss and waste. Missed opportunities and time escaping before our eyes. The tagline of my blog is “Inspiring & encouraging you to live with intentional purpose.” I parent this way. Attempting to make the most of the brief time the Lord allows to raise these boys, to create as many memories and experiences as time permits.

Trip planning is one of my favorites. In fact, one of my dream jobs is a travel agent. I love to travel, but I love to plan almost as much. I love the hours and hours I spend searching for the perfect house to rent or hotel to book. I love planning the itinerary, deciding what to do and plotting out the logistics to fitting it all in perfectly. If given as a gift, I become giddy with excitement imagining the creative ways to present the gift and the looks of excitement to come.

I spend more time than necessary planning trips because I’m reaching towards perfection the entire time. I want the experience to be the absolute best it could possibly be. Perfection has been a battle my entire life. I’ve learned it’s not something I will overcome once and for all. It loves to rear its head in various forms.

I’ve shared about this in Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. 

“I strove to prove myself worthy, to validate my roles and positions, to find identity in all the wrong places, even as a believer. In my personal quest for perfection, I created idols – idols of family, ministry, home, and work. I worshiped at the altar of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or words of encouragement from the ones I served. In my strive for perfection, I could at times leave no room for the perfect God because I worked too hard to be my own god.”

God often speaks to me through story. I want to share a story with you from our recent trip and how God brought me right back to  the question, “Do you trust me?”

Follow with me along this story. I’ll point out roadblocks, provision points, expectation + gratitude moments, disappointment, and ultimately the decision to trust God no matter what, even if I never know why. Yes, it’s through the story of a trip plan gone wrong, but God often speaks to me the deeper questions and answers through the experiences in my life He walks me through. I hope He speaks to you here as well.

For our Arizona trip, I planned two golf outings, three hikes, much shopping/eating/exploring, and the once in a lifetime, bucket list excursion in a hot air balloon.

Finding and deciding on which hot air balloon ride took a couple of hours on the internet. I read all I could find on the most reputable companies. In the process, I found a Groupon special for the company I chose to book with. I tried no less than ten times to complete the purchase through Groupon, but each time the site timed out on me and refused to process the transaction. (Roadblock #1) (Frustration #1)

The Groupon special offered savings worth a couple hundred dollars. I emailed the hot air balloon company explaining the situation. She immediately responded what a great price it was and offered to match the Groupon price for us when we booked direct through their site. That’s when I discovered the hidden blessing in the frustrations of a site not working. Groupon required full payment and no refund for cancelled excursion. It’s the risk you take to save hundreds of dollars. Booking direct through the company offered zero risk. You paid after the balloon flight and nothing in the event of cancellation due to weather circumstances. (Provision #1)(Gratitude #1)

Road block #1  +  provision #1 = Foreshadow #1

I could not WAIT to see the boys’ expressions when they discovered this gift. I ordered a handpainted ornament through the company. It was painted with a desert scene and a picture of the hot air ballon. This is how we would tell them what we planned to do with them, plus we would have the reminder on the tree each year going forward of an incredible experience of a lifetime. (Expectations)

I ordered the ornament weeks before Christmas, yet it never arrived. Tracking information showed it began the journey toward us the day I ordered and spent weeks in a postal facility in Denver, CO. (Frustration #2)

Christmas morning, rather than the expected moment of opening a handpainted ornament, we simply showed them the website and explained the gift. (Expectations, Disappointment, Gratitude all intertwined) (Foreshadow #2)

Our excursion was booked for Day 3 of the trip. It was a sunset ride lifting off at 6:30 am. This required I wake around 4:30 am. We all managed to wake on time, bundle up for a chilly ride, and drive the 30 minutes to the location. We arrived about 15 minutes early. I had a nervous feeling. It felt we were in the right spot, we saw other cars waiting, but we didn’t see the van for the balloon company. (Foreshadow #3)

The van arrived, he began setting up his check in table. The exterior building light wouldn’t turn on. He tried several times to no avail. He made the comment how weird that was. “It was working fine yesterday. Guess we will do this a different way.” He pulled out his iPhone flashlight. (Foreshadow #4)

He handed me the waivers to sign, told me we were riding in the van to the liftoff location. We’d leave within minutes. No less than one short minute later, the check in guy called everyone over with these words, “Guys, I’m sorry I have to ruin your day, but your balloon flight has just been cancelled. We received word from the pilot that the winds are too strong for a safe flight this morning. But you can try to rebook for a later flight.”

I felt every ounce of shock and deflation in that moment. The weather looked beautiful to me. I felt no wind at all, but also I don’t understand weather patterns in the slightest.

The moment held that realization of the fact that we had no control of the situation. We held in our hands our hopes and expectations for that morning fully deflated, frustration welling up, and a whisper to trust God. All the foreshadow moments began filling my mind. God’s provision ahead of time, protecting our money He knew would be lost if that Groupon had processed.

Steve quickly found a breakfast spot and as we drove to eat what did we see over the mountains? Yes, hot air balloons floating gently, peacefully into the sunrise. (Frustration, Disappointment) Why did others get to experience a safe ride and we couldn’t? Have you ever asked God these questions?

I attempted to rebook, but no flights were available. The next few moments we had a choice to make. Which path is right? Is God directing? Do we simply trust the cancel and stop trying to make it work? Do we accept it simply wasn’t meant to be? Or was God directing us to another company? Or was that us trying to control the situation and make a way no matter what God suggested?

In those minutes I’d found another company with spots open the next day. It would cost more by a couple of hundred dollars. Because we saw a way to make it happen, did that mean it was wise? Or should we accept the fact that our expectations didn’t come to pass, allow ourselves to feel the disappointment, but ultimately trust that God is good and knows things we simply don’t know.

The hard thing for me is the fact I always want to know. I always want to put all the puzzle pieces together and see the picture, even if it looks different than I envisioned, I find comfort in seeing it make sense. I also want to follow God’s path rather than my own, but in this situation, I simply was unsure.

We began praying and asking God to guide. I had a thought after praying. I would not book with another company, even if spots allowed, but instead if our current company had cancellations the next morning, we would be prepared to take the spots. We let the company know we’d be open to taking any cancellations they had, but it never happened.

When the day passed by, we had fully accepted the disappointment of the excursion that simply wasn’t meant to be. We didn’t understand why, but decided the only choice was to trust God. God is good. Always.

For me I realize it’s so easy to trust God when I see the path and the reasons for the roadblocks, but so very hard when I never know why.

What do I believe about God truly? Do I believe He is a very good God who desires to give good gifts? Do I believe He’s not a God who delights in watching His children disappointed but is also a God who knows our character and faith can only be shaped and strengthened at times when circumstances don’t go our way?

And this is how my year is ending with God allowing me to walk through a scenario that really is a picture of my entire year. Do I REALLY trust God like I say I do? Do I trust Him in the good and bad equally? Do I believe He is good when life is floating in the air as much as sitting in deflated hopes and expectations? Will I follow Him where He leads even if I see I can make my own way on a path I create because I think I know better? Or will I hold His hand on a different path knowing that anywhere with Him is better than alone along my own rocky way?

Before I wrap up this post, I have to mention our trip was beyond amazing. Truly losing one excursion didn’t take away any joy from five days of amazing family time and memories we created. If I thought I could hold your attention here a bit longer, I’d share how many times God showed up with surprise gifts along this trip. It was all a gift.

This year has been quite the year. It’s taught me to continue living with intention. We simply don’t know what tomorrow holds. If you can take the trip, take the trip. If you have breath in your lungs, live today fully. If you have your loved ones in your life, tell them what they mean to you.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:11

Trust God. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is true. Even in the roadblocks and frustrating disappointments, He is good and we can trust Him.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

 

Think carefully about your ways

Imagine hearing these words and phrases from God.

Think carefully about your ways.

I am with you.

Be strong.

Work – For I am with you.

Reflect back.

Consider carefully.

Consider it carefully.

Would it give you pause? God speaks in His Word. I love the method Anne Graham Lotz teaches for studying God’s Word in The Daniel Prayer. 

  • Read the Word
  • What does the Word say?
  • What does God’s Word mean?
  • What does God’s Word mean in my life?

Sometimes I read God’s Word, and phrases stand out causing me to bullet journal them. When I go back and read my bullet points, I see a theme or message straight from God’s Word.

The end of a year or season leads many into a time of considering and reflecting. But it’s a healthy practice for a more regular life rhythm.

Last week, I felt a small prompting from God to exit social media. It was a whispered invitation to my soul. In argument to the whisper was a louder voice that called me selfish, unconcerned about God’s Kingdom and a call to bring light to a dark area of the world. That louder voice told me to toughen up, stand and fight, be heard. But the whisper gently invited me to come away.

In the past I spent much too much time wondering which choice was God’s will. I’d spend days debating if I was making the “right” choice. Now I make the decision knowing that both may be in God’s will and He cares more for my obedience and walk with Him along whichever of the choices I make. Rather than debating for days if it was wrong or right to leave social media, I simply left and decided to trust God for the guidance along the exit path. I will wait for Him to tell me if it’s a permanent leave or a temporary. In the meantime, I’ll simply enjoy Him.

As I read the book of Haggai, the words of God ministered to me in this time of limiting social media and internet distractions.

Think carefully about your ways. (1:5, 1:7)

  • Where are my pockets of time disappearing to?
  • What am I filling my mind with through the day?
  • Are my habits and patterns drawing me closer to the Lord? Or are they creating in me distance, irritation, anger?
  • Am I becoming a more fruit-filled person through my current ways?

I am with you. (1:13)

  • God is always with us. Am I remembering this?
  • Am I living at a pace that forgets He is with me?
  • Am I consuming content that leaves me fearful and discouraged, forgetting He is truly here.

Be strong. Be strong. Be strong. (2:4)

  • Is the time I spend online sapping me of strength?
  • Am I believing lies leaving me weak?

Work- For I am with you. (2:4)

  • I can work because He is with me.
  • I can do all He’s called and asked when I am focused on His purposes and filled with His truth.
  • I work better with a buddy. Knowing He is by my side keeps me pushing forward from a state of rest.

Reflect back. (2:15)

  • It’s easy to keep going forward without remembering to look back.
  • Reflecting back reminds me of all He’s done in the past and encourages me He won’t stop now.
  • Looking back generates gratitude and thankfulness.
  • Reflecting back fills me with awe. Awe is missing in our frenetic lives.

Consider carefully. Consider it carefully. (2:18)

  • We started with careful consideration of our choices and path and we end with considering carefully.
  • Filled with truth of who He is, remembering He is with us. Working because He made us strong, reflecting back on who He is and what He’s done. Now we are ready to consider carefully our ways.
  • Do I want to keep marching on the path I’m on or is it time to find a new path?

Now, I encourage you to open your Bible to the book of Haggai. It’s 2 short chapters filled with power for your day.


Are you looking for a quiet companion for a few days? If so may I suggest my 14 day devotion, Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. 14 days of reflecting on who God is, meditating on passages from the Psalms. It’s available as an audiobook or ebook. I will guide you through the practice of remembering and reflecting, which are gifts to our soul. If there has ever been a season to give our soul some loving care, it is now.

Maybe you’ve run out of time to ship a gift to that person on your list you’ve yet to send a gift to. Buy them a copy of Illuminate. You don’t have to leave your house. No trip to the post office necessary. They will receive a gift that will draw them closer to God as they practice the art of remembering what a powerful God we serve.

 

When you are tired of waiting, wait for it……

Lord, how long?

If we are honest with ourselves, we’ve all asked this question.

Lord, I’ve been praying about this situation for years. How long must I wait to see an answer? 

Lord, our world feels it is spinning out of control. How long must we wait to see your response to our moans?

Lord, I’ve battled this illness for years. How long must I wait? I’m tired of waiting, Lord.

If you’ve asked God how long you must keep waiting, you are not alone.

“Lord – how long? Turn and have compassion on Your servants.” Psalm 90:13

“How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save?” Habakkuk 1:2

These words hang on my bedroom wall. They are from Psalm 90, which I began praying over my family years ago. When I see these words, I remember what I’m asking the Lord.

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14

I’ll be honest, I’m drawn to pray these words out of selfish motives. I want to be satisfied. I want to shout with joy. I want to be glad ALL my days.

When I read Psalm 90:15, the very next verse, I pause. “Make us rejoice for as many days as You have humbled us, for as many years as we have seen adversity.”

Lord, how long?

And what do we do while we wait?

I imagine the Lord with a smile on His face, replying, “Well, child, I’m glad you asked.” I envision Him directing my heart in prayer. And this is the response of my heart.

“Let Your work be seen by Your servants, and Your splendor by their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us: establish for us the work of our hands – establish for us the work of our hands!” Psalm 90: 16-17

While we wait, something is waiting to be seen. Do we see it? “Let Your work be seen….” Friends, He is working. Do we see it?

While we wait, something is waiting to descend upon us. Do we experience it? “Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us.” Friends, His favor is ours to hold.

While we wait, something is waiting to be done. Do we do it? “Establish for us the work of our hands….” Friends, we have work to do while we wait. Do we do it?

How well do I wait? Not that well honestly. I want results yesterday. I want healing instantly. I want to see heart change the moment I ask.

While you wait, dwell well. Live well, dwell well. Don’t wait for the answer to the cry of your heart before you decide to live fully alive in the Lord.

If we continue in God’s Word right where we left off in Psalm 90:17, we move into Psalm 91. Verse 1 holds a key to waiting well and dwelling better.

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.”

To live under the protection of the Most High is a choice to remain, abide in Him. To live a life of obedience. To crucify ourselves daily. To pick up our cross and follow Him. To slay selfishness and pride. That is how we live under the protection of His umbrella. When we live under His protection, we dwell well in His shadow.

Now that we are willing to live well and dwell well, we are ready to open our eyes.

Watch and Wait

“How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save? Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.” Habakkuk 1:2-4

When I read this passage of scripture, I felt seen and heard by God. It feels as though we are crying out for justice, yet injustice escalates, evil continues to flaunt and parade itself. It seems. Just because we feel a certain way, doesn’t make it true.

How long must we wait? Really?

The Lord answered Habakkuk, and the Lord answers us the same.

“Look at the nations and observe – be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” Habakkuk 1:5

God desires we be utterly astounded by Him. He is worthy of our astonishment! I love how Habakuk responds to God’s first answer. He responds with who God is. Yahweh my God, My Holy One, my Rock. Yes, Lord!! You are astounding!

Habakkuk makes a choice to wait. To watch and wait.

“I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower.
I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

Lord, am I standing at my guard post? Am I stationing myself on the lookout tower? Oh, Lord, may I watch and see what you will say to me. May I be utterly astounded by You.

Wait for it!!!

We have short attention spans. Our media, image driven world, is ready for the next scene before the first is fully developed. When a parent posts a cute video of their toddler, a common caption is “Wait for it!” The one posting the video doesn’t want us to miss the best part, which is yet to come. Often if they don’t prompt us to “wait for it,” we move on because we believe we’ve seen all we need to see. But they know what we don’t know. The best is yet to come.

God responds similarly to Habakkuk in 2:3. “…..Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.”

Though it delays, it will not come late. I love words. And words that seem to contradict grab my attention these days. Is a delay not late? Or is it maybe we feel an answer we wait on is delayed, but really it will arrive right on time. God does everything in perfection, including timing His answers.

We can trust Him fully.

Live well, Dwell well, Watch well, Wait well. God is moving.

 

 

 

 

 

A truly safe phone for kids – 24 hour deal

Once you open the door to smartphones, it’s hard to close it. Once the door is opened, you begin the process of continually learning no amount of restrictions and monitoring are effective in truly keeping our kids safe.

As I’ve shared before, we’ve tried dumbed down smartphones, flip phones, iPods, and have found none to be truly safe. When I found the Gabb phone, I knew I’d found a parent’s dream to a phone they can put into their kid’s hands with no worries.

For 24 hours only, you can get this phone for $49 using my promo code RENEEROBINSON49

Purchase Gabb phone here

(This link will begin working Monday November 23rd at midnight MT)

These phones are expected to sell out fast. Monday November 23 12:00 am-11:59pm MT.

My 15 year old told us a story recently about someone asking what kind of phone he had. His response made us laugh. “I have a ‘my mom loves me phone’.”

The Gabb phone utilizes phone, text, calculator, calendar, music, gps, and camera. No internet, no apps, no games, no social media. No danger. No worries. Truly a peace of mind phone at a perfect price point. I’m not big on putting a $1,000 phone in my kids’ hands anyway.

There’s a new movement of parents waking up to the effects and harms of smartphones and screens on our children. In an effort to do our part in keeping kids safe and saving their innocence and childhood, the Gabb phone is a step in the right direction.