ATTN ★ I have grown so much in the last few years, and with that, I know that much of what I have previously written (2011-2018ish) may not be as Christ-centered or sound as I would have it. That's a bit embarrassing, but evidence that the Holy Spirit is growing me closer to the image of Christ. I will be going back through my writing and either deleting entirely or editing those articles. Writing is a humbling hobby that grows as you do.

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Temptation to Trust in Lesser Things

5.30.2021 | No comments

Last night during our family worship time, we sang. Singing is nothing unusual, but it was the balm God used for my weary soul. A reminder that “may it be, come what may, that I rest all my days in the goodness of Jesus.”

You see, I have been tempted to trust in lesser things, and far too often have I functionally given in to those temptations. Good things, mind you, but things that were never intended to save me, try as they may. Simply distractors. Diverting my focus. Stealing my affections when I—for even a moment—consider their worth to be paramount to Christ. These good things meant to point me to the unfailing promises of Christ and given by a good God, but I settle for what those things provide on the surface. Certainly a faulty substitute for which no substitute exists. And chances are you, too, have been lured by similar images and voices you digest on instagram, interact with on Facebook, consume on blogs, and entertain on podcasts.

It’s not the removing of chemical substances from my products that renews my youth like the eagle’s.
Or partaking of a particular medicine that can save me.
It’s not allegiance to a political party. Or politician that restores my soul.
It’s not intentionally resisting certain medications that can forgive my sins.
It’s not following notable accounts that covers all my iniquity.
It’s not science. Or holistic wellness. Or therapy.
It’s not a specific diet that can heal all my diseases.
It’s not a customized workout routine that redeems my life from the pit.
It’s not aligning with a theological camp that can crown me with steadfast love and mercy.
It’s not obtaining more educational degrees that holds my hope.
Or reading more books. Or writing more blogs.
It’s not homeschooling my children that can save me.
Or doing, saying, being a part of, or avoiding of all the thousands of other things vying for my affections.

None of those things were meant to satisfy the deepest longing for my soul. And day in and day out, we feast our eyes and set our hearts on things that make promises they can never keep. And while those things may in fact deepen my love of the Savior who satisfies and may even, by God’s grace, prolong my physical life a few days or years; hope that is rooted in those things will fall miserably short and leave me unsatisfied still.

“Come and find what this world cannot offer. Come and find your joy here complete.” Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save. “Come and find you hope now in Jesus, He is all He said He would be. Grace is overflowing from the Savior’s heart. Rest here in His wondrous peace.”

So weary soul of mine and like mine—turn your eyes upon the goodness of Jesus. He is the only One that can satisfy. He is the only One that can save. He is the only One where unfailing and unfading love is true. Rest all your days in the goodness of Jesus.





It's been a long time

3.03.2021 | No comments

It's been a long, few years since I have regularly written.  Instagram has posed as my holding cell for my deep thoughts, but in so many ways, Instagram has helped shorten my attention span and added to my satisfaction of lesser things. These past few years, it's been a mixed bag of emotions and too many events to recount; yet through it all, I know that God has sovereignly worked each minute detail for my ultimate good: irrational anger, a pastor husband pursuing a PhD, 5 kids in less than 5 years, homeschooling, debilitating anxiety, a cross-country move. All working for my good, all for his glory. I cling to that.

A dear friend and mentor told me yesterday to remember God's goodness, to remember what God is doing in my life, remember what he has done in my life. She asked me the hard, uncomfortable questions you'd rather not be asked so you can continue in complacency.  Then she said I should do what it is that I love to do...that brings God the most glory.

So what is that for me?

The question sort of stumped me. Before Jesus redeemed every part of me, I misplaced my identity in all the things, albeit good things: relationships, running, academics, physical appearance. There was no shortage of the molds I could fit and the cast of worth I created. Yet even on this side of salvation, I still find myself tempted to grasp at that which does not fulfill.  A chronic case of misplaced identity.  And so restarting this blog after what feels like an eternity of back and forth, on and off feels passably scary.

It is intimidating not because I can't do it, but because I fear falling into the black hole of worshipping a lesser god. In this case, the approval of man and inspiring words. Oh the depths of my sinfulness know no bounds. I know I could be, as culture preaches, "anything I want to be," but I deeply just want to be faithful in whatever it is I do.

I have worn many hats that have brought me immense pleasure, but ultimately ended with a self-serving worship and vainglorious uses. But all those titles I can remember, and sometimes look back on with sadness, are nothing. Worthless. Unfulfilling. Inferior. They fail me, they leave me condemned, they turn on me and leave me more empty than when I picked them up. They are not my identity.

But that is what is nerve wracking about resurrecting this space-- there remains the potential to descend into the dark abyss of sin.  Placing my hope in, my treasure in writing. O Lord help me, for I am weak.

But if I do what I love, if I do what others have confirmed are my giftings, then I writing is where I will spend more time during this season of my life. Alongside baking delectable breads and devouring books like candy, writing is where I love to sit.  I can look back and see the thread of writing woven into my earliest memories. From my emotive and poetic high school days of filling numerous journals with my broken heart (journals that I still have) to filling blogs with endless monologues as a new Christian, writing has been a constant outlet that has been used to shape who I am today.

So if you are reading this because you somehow signed up to get "new post notifications" when I started this particular blog like 10-ish years ago, hello and hi again. But this restart of my blog will remain relatively quiet as I attempt to kill the approval of man.  Whether 829 people or no people ever read what I write, I will write simply because I love to write. Faithful in the little things.

Here's to wearing the only title, the only hat that is embedded into my very self and can never be removed, the banner that will wave forever. I am Renee, the redeemed.




** Also, I have grown so much in the last few years, and with that, I know that much of what I have previously written I can no longer standby. That's a bit embarrassing, but humility is a good thing to wear I have heard.  I will be going back through my writing and either deleting entirely or editing those articles. Writing is a humbling hobby that grows as you do. 







Jesus, Our Empathetic High Priest

12.01.2018 | No comments


The other day, I walked into my son’s room to see him holding his bloody hand in his blanket.  I panicked because I had absolutely no idea what had happened.  He plainly told me that he cut his hand on a broken piece of glass, but then (probably because I was freaking) he immediately started crying. But I mean the cut was significant, I thought we might have to go to the ER.  (Anyway, why there was even broken glass is a completely different story)

As I tried to help, Ezra fought me tooth and nail.  He didn’t want me to look at it, or touch it, or help him at all.  He didn’t even want a band-aid.  But I knew that cleaning it, wiping away the blood, applying pressure for a good long while, and putting a band-aid on it would really be the best thing for him, even though initially it would hurt.

He continued to fight me, and eventually I had to use a very stern voice and finagle my way around his squirming body.  Toddlers are strong y'all.  I asked him if he knew that mommy loved him.  I asked him if he trusted mommy.  Finally he relinquished control and let me help him. He looked at me, sighed, and  said “ahh, much better mommy”.

If me and you are Ezra, this is a picture of our relationship with God a lot of times. 

After a few minutes of having a paper towel and 3 bandaids (which were probably wrapped too tight) I asked him if he was okay & he said that he was.  He also said, “I am sorry I got cut.”  It wasn’t his fault that he got cut; it was just an accident.  But I was still there to help him with his cut, his injury, his boo-boo.

About 20 minutes after getting bandaged and back to playing with his trains, he looked at me and said “Jesus got cut too.”  Ezra wasn’t asking a question, it was just a statement that, in fact, Jesus had gotten cut before.  So right there, I thought of how Jesus probably did get cuts, and scraps, and boo-boos as a child, and his mom probably bandaged him a few times (except Jesus was super compliant and perfect and all, but still, in his humanity he felt all the physical pain of a boo-boo).

So I told Ezra that Jesus is our empathetic high priest. I know, I know, he has no idea what the words “empathetic” and “high priest” even mean, but it was a wonderful reminder to me that Jesus understands every thing we go through. From boo-boos to loneliness, and broken relationships and loss, Jesus understands.

Jesus, who was God in the flesh, became a human and lived a perfectly obedient life that we were meant to, but couldn’t because of our sin.  Any hardship or struggle we find ourself in in this broken world, Jesus can empathize because he suffered in the ultimate way—bearing the wrath of God on the cross, on our behalf because of our sin, our disobedience against a holy God.  

Jesus even understands the successes and victories, because he conquered death.  

When I told Ezra that Jesus understands the pain that he feels in his finger, I really meant it, Jesus does understand the pain that Ezra is experiencing right now because what could be more painful than absorbing all the wrath of God for all of mankind from past, to present and future.

So this is good news as we enter into this holiday season, or maybe for you tonight.  Because whatever hardship, frustration, pain you are facing, Jesus understands.  And I totally get that things might be smooth sailing and nothing is wrong, but something might happen soon, and you need to know that even then, Jesus understands.


Hebrews 4:14-16 says: 
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
So Jesus, our high priest who has suffered on our behalf, can understand all our hurts and weaknesses and pains and struggles and temptations.  We can be confident when we call upon our God we will receive exactly what we need in these trying times.  

I don’t know what is going on in your life.  Things might be all around great, but they might not.  Chances are there are things through out the week that just don’t seem to work out the way you thought they would. 

So if you are in the midst of any type of physical pain, Isaiah 53 says that Jesus’s physical body was actually pierced for our transgressions and completely crushed for our iniquities. 

If you’re hurting from the loss of someone your love, remember in John 11 how that Jesus grieved and wept because his friend Lazarus had died.  

In 2 Corinthians 8,  Paul reminds us that though Jesus was rich, he became poor for your sake.  He became poor so you might be rich in him. So this is incredibly good news if you are feeling the weight of finances and struggling to see how ends will meet.

As I go through this list of real life situations, I am sure you can think of times in Jesus’ life that he would have experienced them: loneliness, abandoned by friends, betrayal, humiliation, physically violated, cheated, physical stress, excluded from things.

As Jesus experienced the greatest broken relationship in the world — being separated from the Father on the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” we can rest in the truth that because Jesus endured the separation and brokenness from the Father, we now can have a restored and whole relationship with God himself.

Jesus understands.  
Jesus is our great, empathetic high priest.  

Whatever strain in your life there may be—even a little boo-boo like Ezra—Jesus calls us to draw near to his throne, cast our cares on him because he cares for us, and he will give us his real grace in our time of need.  That is demonstrated by the cross.  Thank you for the cross.

Cultivating a Heart for the Nations 2018

11.19.2018 | No comments

I used to write a lot.
I don't write much anymore.
God has grown my heart, my theology, and my compassion.
So read older posts at your own discretion.

However, I am passionate about bible translation, seeing lost people be found and dead people come alive, and count it a privilege to bring the gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue.  And I am starting with the people next door. 

I have complied a bunch of information on various people groups around the world, of which almost all can be found residing in the United States.  Only a few people groups listed in the devotional are considered reached for the gospel by having just a handful of Christ-followers.  Most remain unreached, 42% of the world's population is unreached for the gospel.  This means they are without the hope of the cross, are slaves to sin, and walk in utter darkness.  This has to change.

I hope you join me in counting down to Christmas this year with "Cultivating a Heart for the Nations."

It's designed for kids, teens, grown-ups, empty nesters, and grandparents alike.  We are never too young and never to old to grow our affections for the people around us. 

It is a daily devotional from December 1-25 that features:

  • People groups
  • Bible translation
  • Scripture
  • Cultures and customs
  • Crafts
  • Recipes
  • Questions
  • Talking points
  • Prayer points
  • Listening to languages


This devotional exists to make Christ known and to give him glory.  I have prayed that it will encourage and inspire Christ-followers to give and to go to the ends of the Earth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I hope you start with your neighbor next door.


"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."  -Romans 10:17

You can find "Cultivating a Heart for the Nations" by clicking on the graphic at the top (or below) of the blog, or by clicking here


For printing:

  • You will want to do double-sided printing to save paper.
  • Color is optional.
  • You could put 2 pages per 1 sheet, but the font may be harder to read in some places.


Resources:
The Seed Company
The Joshua Project
International Mission Board
Global Recordings Network
Operation World
Word Project: Parallel Bibles
Deaf Bible Society
People Groups


Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world

12.05.2017 | No comments

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Acts 17:24-25

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews 1:1-3
Almighty
Alpha and the Omega
Ancient of Days
Atoning Sacrifice
Beginning and End
Better Moses
Branch of the Lord
Bread of Life
Bridegroom
Bright Morning Star
Chosen Servant
Christ
Comforter
Cornerstone
Counselor
Creator
Defender
Delight
Descendent of David
Door
Everlasting Father
Exceeding Joy
Faithful and True
Father
Father of glory
First and the Last
Fortress
Founder and Perfecter of Faith
Friend
God
God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob
God of the whole earth
Good Shepherd
Great Deliverer
Great I AM
Heavenly Father
Holy One
Holy One of God
Holy One of Israel
Holy Spirit
Horn of Salvation
Husband
Immanuel
Immortal
Invisible
Jealous
Jesus
Jesus Christ
Jesus of Nazareth
Judge
King
King of kings
Lamb of God
Leader
Light
Light of the world
Lion of the Tribe of Judah
Living God
Living one
Living Stone
Living Water
Lord
LORD
Lord God
LORD God the Almighty
LORD of hosts
Lord of lords
Love
Majesty
Maker
Marvelous Light
Master
Mediator
Merciful High Preist
Messiah
Mighty God
Mighty One of Jacob
Most High
One who was, and is, and is to come
Only wise God
Overseer of my Soul
Portion
Preist
Prince of Peace
Prophet
Protector
Provider
Redeemer
Refuge
Resurrection
Righteous Branch
Righteous One
Risen Lord
Rock
Rock of Offense
Root of David
Ruler
Savior
Second Adam
Shepherd
Shield
Shoot from the stump of Jesse
Son of David
Son of God
Son of Man
Spirit of God
Spirit of the Lord
Stone of Israel
Stone of Stumbling
Strength
Stronghold
Stump of Jesse
Suffering Servant
sun of Righteousness
Teacher
True Shepherd
True Vine
Warrior
Way
Way, Truth, Life
Word
The Word of God

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. 
John 1:1-3

And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6b

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
John 1:14

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the name by which he is called is the Word of God.
Revelation 19:13

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means 'God with us.'
Matthew 1:23




I Sacrificed Myself So Now I Sacrifice My Phone: May Link-Up

4.29.2017 | No comments

When I think of the word "SACRIFICE" I think of letting go, surrendering, a payment, giving up so others benefit.  If you thought on the word, you likely would come up with the same set of words, or similar.

We all sacrifice a lot to accomplish the things which we care most deeply. However, sacrifices are not always positive, easy, and/or beautiful thing. 

I want to talk to you about something that has been near and dear to my heart lately, and that is the iPhone.  Me writing about this may be somewhat comical, for if you are like 90% of people you are probably reading this on some sort of mobile device; and the remaining 10% of you dinosaurs may read this on a computer.  Sure, tons of blogs have been written about the iPhone, numerous books depict the challenges of using advanced technology, and everyone has their own opinion, but after reading Tony Reinke's new book "12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You," I am even more aware of the control I allow my iPhone to play in my every day life. This awareness, and attempt to reign in my usage, has been going on for nearly two years now.  I think I am aware because I am annoyed with other peoples' iPhone habits.  Isn't it true we always notice what we hate in ourselves in others first?



The phone, and more specifically the iPhone, is an essential part of our every day.  Instant updates and news at our finger tips, and yes, this is beneficial to some degree.  However, in regards to sacrifice, we willingly lay on the iPhone altar every single day, spilling our most prized and glamorous details of the day.  We allow social media outlets to control us.  We allow the iPhone, or the things that are accessed on it, to dictate our attitudes and feelings.  We allow it to tell us how we should think.  We allow it to tell us where to go.  We allow it to control us.

Now don't get me wrong, I am appreciative of technology as much as the next person.  I have depended on technology and all its advances to improve my quality of life and my day to day activities.  I want you, reader, to know that I am writing this post because I am primarily writing TO and FOR myself.  I need this reminder, because I know it's true; and I know I need to change.  Technology like the iPhone is wonderful; however, there has to be a line when using it.  There just has to.

SACRIFICE.



We sacrifice gazing into a newborns eyes while nursing because we are scrolling through feeds of other moms' babies.

We sacrifice experiencing the moment at a concert because we are too busy snapping and sharing a song, nearly watching the entire concert through our own mobile device.

We sacrifice intimacy with our spouse because we troll the "perfect, beautiful, never-fight" couples online.

We sacrifice our safety, our kids' safety, and the safety of the drivers sharing the road because we text and drive as if we are in complete control.

We sacrifice quality time with friends and family because we can FaceTime much easier and faster, allowing ourself a quick hang-up if something "more important" comes up.

We sacrifice the ability to seek information on our own because we ask Siri the answers, get frustrated because we all know she's useless, and then spend more screen-time because we forgot what we were "looking up" in the first place.

We sacrifice reading deeply because we skim articles and stories quickly (probably this one included).

We sacrifice genuine friendships because we reduce them to likes and shares on social media.

We sacrifice the "here and now" at an event because we are concerned so much about other peoples' "there and then."

We sacrifice our family time as we all sit on the couch in the same room, doing nothing other than scrolling social media.

We sacrifice nurturing our athletic talents because we are holed up comparing our body to a paid social media star's body.


The list is endless.  But if anything is important. If anything is worth highlighting in this small part of the internet. It's this:

We sacrifice a personal relationship with Christ because we would rather be on our iPhones.

Now, I know this is where some of you stop reading because apparently I am full of garbage because your relationship with Christ is awesome.  Good for you, but you're really missing the point. Your iPhone has a battery, and the battery keeps track of what apps you spend the most time on.  Look at yours.   Our batteries have convicted us and rendered us all guilty.   If your prayer life, your bible, your face-to-face fellowship groups had a battery tracker, would it be more than these apps?

Mine neither.



SACRIFCE.

If none of the scenarios caused you to nod your head, look around, you'll notice how much others are missing out on because their eyes are buried in their phones.  When you notice it of others, you'll notice it about yourself.  It's scary, but don't be too hard on people, because we are all one click from being what you see, we could all become (or we are already are) these pictures. Tony Reinke reminds us that no demographic is immune from this addiction.  

But what should concern us the most is the eternal.  Jesus.  Our relationship with the Almighty One.  What could our life look like if we spent more time with the Lord?  What could other peoples' lives look like as we seriously invested in them?  How could our homes and workplace and neighborhoods and churches and cities because eternally changed because we decided to invest as much effort in our relationship with Christ as we do making the perfect Instagram photo, catching up on a day's worth of Facebook material, or refreshing our Twitter to see if we finally got a RT?  What if we really got serious about things that mattered eternally, and not waste so much time on the temporal?

(Remember, I am writing this for me even more so than I am you.)

So what can we do?




SACRFICE.

We can sacrifice our iPhones on the altar of Jesus Christ.  A "giving up so others benefit" kind of thing.  Everyone, including the iPhone owner, benefits when we deny ourselves the excessive pleasure of social media.

We sacrifice the iPhone so we can gaze into a newborns baby blue eyes.

We sacrifice the iPhone so we can experience the smells and sounds and people at the concert.

We sacrifice the iPhone to reignite intimacy with our spouse.

We sacrifice the iPhone because our safety is more important.

We sacrifice the iPhone to make memories with friends and family because time is fleeting.

We sacrifice the iPhone to spend time seeking valid information on our own.

We sacrifice the iPhone to read deeply with passion and grow in solid knowledge.

We sacrifice the iPhone to form genuine, lasting, meaningful friendships.

We sacrifice the iPhone so we can make the most of the "here and now."

We sacrifice the iPhone so we grow closer as a family unit.

We sacrifice the iPhone so we can nurture our athletic talents.

And ultimately, if for no other reason than this, we sacrifice the iPhone so we can have a richer, deeper, closer, more passionate, eternal personal relationship with Christ.


Can our phones be used for good?  Absolutely.
Can our phones be used for the eternal? Again, yes.

But in my life and I am guessing yours, we are a slave to refreshes and retweets, likes and shares, snaps and snap streaks.  We aren't using it for eternal impact for the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are using it to glorify our own personal kingdom on earth, and that is vanity and a sin against our Holy God.(Ecclesiastes 1)

We need to ask ourselves this, are we more willing to sacrifice our phone habits now or are we more comfortable with sacrificing our limited time, precious relationships, and our only Savior and Risen King Jesus Christ?

Jesus didn't sacrifice himself so that we could walk around to be mindless, self-absorbed, phone addicts.  Remember his sacrifice for you, and the phone is rendered ridiculous.


Photos above are taken by Eric Pinkersgill and are a part of his series "Removed." For more of his work, click HERE.

I am currently on chapter 11 in Reinke's book, but hope to finish before publishing this post.

Click HERE to purchase Tony Reinke's "12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You" (This is not an affiliate link.  I just genuinely want you to buy the book because it provides SO much more insight, encouragement, and detail of how our phones are changing us.  It's a must read for all.)






If you are linking up with us this month, grab the button and put on your post.  If you need some guidelines or want to know other prompts, click HERE.







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