Sunday, July 28, 2013

Onward and Upward

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Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Do you swim in a pool of confusion? Have your plans fallen like a house of cards? What now?
I associate the situation to a ‘deer in the headlights.’ You know what I’m talking about, right? You’re driving down that lone highway on a pitch black night, round a corner, and bam! There they are. Two shining dots in the middle of the road above a frozen set of legs. You hit the brakes and pray the vehicle stops before it gets a new hood ornament or worse.
That’s how I feel when everything tumbles down around my ears. The ‘best laid plans’ is how I operate my life. Not intentionally, but naturally. I’m a thinker. My husband calls me the ultimate Class A personality. The Lord has to remind me on occasion that my plans aren’t always that good.
Failure is a bitter pill to swallow. It hurts. I want my efforts to matter, my ideas to succeed. Who doesn’t?
Thankfully, when I do fall short and I’m at my lowest hour, I’m not alone. God reminds me to reach for those things ahead. Open my entire life to Him and follow His plans instead of my own.
So, if you’re swimming, get out of the pool. Throw your cards away. Swallow that pill with a tall glass of iced tea, sweetened if you prefer. Press onward and upward and don’t look back.
Jesus knows the way.

In Christ,


Renee

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Count It Joy!


James 1:2-4 (NKJV) “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

     Have you ever had a baby or know someone who has? 
     I remember the day we found out I was going to have our son. Talk about joy! We were a young married couple striving to serve the Lord and He’d blessed us with a child. We shared our glorious news with friends and family. I can still see the smiles and frowns. Oh, not everyone was as happy as we were, you know. But the Lord lifted us high and provided a new job for my husband, and a new home in Jackson. We were on our way! 
     Then the trials began. At twenty-six weeks, my heart decided to kick into overdrive and send us into labor. The doctor stopped it but I became very familiar with the term: confinement. No sunlight, no exertion, no excessive meals. I was allowed one trip up and down the stairs per day. James took care of me in every way while he worked long hours as an electrician. He made my lunch, provided entertainment while he was gone, and maintained the house when he returned. After the work was done, his arms would offer comfort and hope to make it through another day. 
     At the end of it all, our son, Sean was born, perfect and complete, three weeks early after fifty-two hours of intensive labor. James never left my side. 
     The memories of my pregnancy will never disappear but the agony of labor has faded. Those hours of two-minute contractions are part of a wondrous story of deliverance. And the lessons I learned from the many weeks within our small apartment, watching my husband care for me? Let’s just say I paid attention. 
     Remember in James where he says to ‘count it all joy when you fall into various trials?’ When you keep reading, he tells us why. So that we may develop patience so we can lack in nothing. What does that mean? 
     Challenges, experiences, Good, bad, painful, or not. Everything in life serves a purpose. Keep your eyes open, so that you may be perfect and complete. You never know what lies ahead.

     In Christ,


     Renee

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Never Give Up

James Blare, Picture by Renee Blare

Hebrews 10:35-38 (NKJV) “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith…”

“Don’t worry, things will be better tomorrow.”
“Pray harder. You need to pray more.”
“You just need more faith.”
“Don’t be so weak. God’s your strength.”

Ever heard these?
In the midst of heartache and pain, these pearls of wisdom don’t really help me that much. I mean, really? If I wanted it to be better tomorrow, I wouldn’t have asked for advice today. Pray harder? Are you kidding me? And as for faith? I walk by faith daily, physically and spiritually. The last phrase is the most painful though. I am weak in every way and He knows it. I lean on His strength to get through each moment.
Yes, I’m in pain. So what? Yes, I work hard. So do a lot of people. But I need guidance and comfort, not platitudes. Definitely not judgment. That’s not to say if my husband noticed that my prayer life was in the toilet, he wouldn’t call me on the carpet about it. In that case, the second phrase would apply. (Now that would be a fun conversation, wouldn’t it?)
Why do I have trials and tribulation? Pain, surgery, financial problems? Why does the Lord allow me to taste my dreams only to have them turn bitter in my mouth? What’s the point to the madness? How do I survive it?
Did you happen to read the opening verse to this blog? In Hebrews 10:35, the Lord tells me how. Oh, I wish I’d known this sooner. Do you see it?
Confidence, meet the troubles of this world with confidence. And I will be rewarded for it. With Christ and his body, my fellow Christians, I find support through anything I may face. I’m not alone.
But why? Keep reading. Well?
Endurance, I need endurance. I believe it. I can’t just coast as a Christian, not anymore. I’ve tried in the past. But when I say the name Jesus Christ now, this world claws back at me. So the Lord tells me that I have to learn to endure. Not just for His sake but for my own. Serve my Lord, do His will in my life, and never give up. So I can say…

2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

In Christ,

Renee

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Power of Words

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Do they make the pain go away? How do we know?


Ecc 3:1-8 (NKJV) “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”


Did you catch it? It’s in there. Buried amongst the somersaults of the passage, it shines for all to see. Read it again. What do you see?
I always wonder when to hold my tongue and when to offer my two cents. People who know me would say the latter wins most of the time. Sometimes to my regret and other times, incredible joy.
From experience, I know silence in the lieu of comfort can yield an angry heart. While a few words can’t erase a sleepless night or endless days of agony, it does offer awareness. The knowledge that someone is conscious of the suffering. That the path of pain while tread alone is not a lonely one.
In turn, my words have produced flares of impetuous anger. Lashes of temper that sear the soul and make me regret uttering a syllable. Once spoken, the words meant so much less. Silence would have been the better choice.
How do we know what to say? When to say it? Or if we should even open our mouths in the first place?
As the Lord says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to everything. So next time you’re filled with words of wisdom for someone who is hurting, and you are bursting at the seams to share it, stop for a second. Ask yourself this question.
Will these words make the pain go away?
If they won’t, then examine the message, and decide… Is it better left unspoken? If not, pray hard and share it. Then be prepared for all sorts of reactions. Anger, mockery, laughter, joy…
Pain is a bitter companion. But God is stronger than even he.

Psalm 62:7 (NKJV) “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

In Christ,


Renee