Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My blog has moved to heartrefuge.com

God is leading me to blog and develop a speaking ministry...my blog posts will no longer be seen here, but at my website, heartrefuge.com. Hope you check it out!!

Information about my retreat ministry, All Things New, is still at atnalive.com.

May God peace and joy reign in your heart as you experience more of His extravagant love!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beholding and Becoming

There is a famous quote, "You become what you behold." Behold comes from the Greek word, ide. Its the imperative (command) form for the word, "to know, see".  Its kind of like saying, BE SURE TO SEE THIS, DON'T MISS THIS! Life has a way of forcing itself upon us...making sure we see it, behold it...and the fruit is not always what we want to become! When we get frustrated by the news of the day, replay conversations, think about all the reasons why our loved one is late (aren't they always worst case scenarios?!), the posture of our heart becomes what we are beholding in our mind. Anger, self shaming, fear start to rule. I don't think anyone made a new year's resolution to become more of these!

Who do you desire to become? What can you start beholding in order to be transformed?

A world traveler...how about beholding a new park in your area? or plan a vacation!
A photographer...take photos from different perspectives, behold your lens in different angles!
A cook...try a new restaurant for inspiration! try a new recipe!
Joyful...serve someone in an unexpected way, in the laying down of our life, we will find it!
Encouraged...practice being thankful or speak a word of encouragement to those around you

Beholding takes some effort. 

How do we behold Jesus in order to become more like His, let more of Him transform our heart?

Psalm 27(amp) says, "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and[insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple."

A friend of mine has been posting Bible Art Journaling on Facebook...this is a great way to behold Jesus and His Word. To SEE scripture so as to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and His treasure for our hearts...refreshment for the weary that brings LIFE! After reading a Bible verse, ask God for a picture of it. A few years ago, I was wondering what the fear of the Lord is. I looked up the word fear...it means reverential awe. I asked God, what does this look like? A picture of a sunrise came to mind...YES that is reverential awe...inspiration, promise of NEW, bigger than all around me, beauty that encompasses...my trust in Him grew, yes LORD, I fear you with reverential awe and that is the beginning of many things according to your Word! 

Here are three of my friend's art journaling (used with permission) She got inspiration from an online Bible Art Journaling Challenge if you would like to join in:  http://www.rebekahrjones.com/bible-art-journaling-challenge/

​These are based on Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 31:25, I John 4:18

I hope these drawings have blessed you! You CAN laugh as you rest in Him  and let His love erase fear! (if you are not an artist, after reading a Bible verse that speaks to your heart, google images of that verse, likely you will find some beauty to gaze upon!)

Here's be beholding and BECOMING more!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Star of Bethlehem

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;night after night they display knowledge...their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Psalm 19:1,2,4

Last week I went to the Exploradome at the Bell Museum which is a computer generated planetarium show. Since its near Christmas, I asked the lady doing the show if she knew which star was the star of Bethlehem...I had two reasons: my curious mind and a hope of igniting curiosity in her heart which may lead to curiosity in Christ. She had heard of it, but didn't know any details. Another mom who was with me shared that she had seen a video called the Star of Bethlehem by Rick Larson. In it he "proved" the star was an alignment of two planets, Jupiter and Venus, whereby the brightness from both of them combined made the brightest star. Astronomers now tell us the difference between stars and planets (stars twinkle, planets don't), but to the ancient sky observers, all bright lights were considered stars.

This got my scientific mind excited. Not that God needs proof of His existence and omnipotence, but I LOVE that He has given all of nature to declare His glory. In fact, as I was watching the Exploradome show Psalm 19 kept running through my mind.

I happen to be studying astronomy with my two boys for homeschool. We are all intrigued with this vast universe in which we live, the uniqueness of each planet, the force of the sun and how orderly the whole thing is. It also has really bothered me that something so wonderful has been named after Roman gods. Like God's glory was stolen.

Then it dawned on me, what the gods of Jupiter and Venus "stood" for. The Merriam-Webster definition of Jupiter is "the chief Roman god, god of light, of the sky and weather, and of the state and its welfare and its laws. Venus is "the Roman goddess of love and beauty." How clever of God to use these two planets to make a "star" to declare the birth of His son, Jesus. Who is Jesus if not what these 2 gods combined represent--He is the King of kings ("chief" God), the Light of the world, the one whom the waves (weather) obey, fulfiller of the law which ushered in the new covenant, love incarnate and beauty personified and through whom all beauty is created. This completely redeemed (means to buy back, to change to the better) the fact that the planets are named after the false gods. I like to think it is no accident that it was these 2 specific planets that came together because of the names they carried...all other names/planets would not have represented Jesus as well. (Mercury=a Roman god of commerce, eloquence, travel, cunning, and theft who serves as messenger to the other gods, Mars=the Roman god of war, Saturn= a Roman god of agriculture, Neptune=the Roman god of the sea, Uranus=the sky personified as a god)

God is not mocked and even uses our own faulty understanding to draw us to Him, just like the magi! So I am in wonder at this Christmas time of God's Son and the "star" that declared His glory and I hope you are too!

Here are some youtube links to increase your wonder and declare His glory:
Indescribable by Louie Giglio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUtuEOA0WD8
Awe Factor of God by Francis Chan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ya12I036lg
Star of Bethlehem by Rick Larson I refer to http://www.bethlehemstar.net

Monday, August 6, 2012

Berries and Battle, Fruit and the Fight

 One of my pleasures of summer is picking black raspberries that grow wild in our woods. There are several layers to this delight...free food, solitude, beauty and a sense of hidden treasure. Over the years this has become a precious time with God, usually in the early hours of morning with all the stillness and promise of a new day. Having five kids, I have relished the hour or so that no one is calling my name. But deeper than these gifts are the unravelling spiritual insights God keeps unveiling as I walk through the woods with Him to gather these little, purple gifts to me. We live in a world at war in the heavenlies and are also promised His provision and opportunity to bear fruit...this is what is truly speaking to my heart as I berry pick.

Mosquitoes and thorns abound in raspberry bushes. These two enemies of the berry picker are what keep my kids from joining me...oh, they love to eat the fruit; they simply get scared off by what stands in the way. I have learned to arm myself with long sleeves and pants for the mosquitoes...much like donning spiritual armor in Ephesians 6, you can stand and advance on the battle field if you are equipped! The buzz in my ear is a constant reminder that those blood thirsty pests are lurking, just like the barrage of lies the enemy of my soul whispers hoping to discourage or back me away from all God has. The armed berry picker uses armor AND bug spray to keep these pests at bay...much like prayer, incense rising to the throne of God that keeps truth in the forefront of my mind and settles deep in my heart such that I have no fear and can persevere. While the thorns are a reminder that I live in a fallen world, there are plenty of thorn-free areas to grab to move the stalks out of the way...its all about discernment and reaching carefully...like focusing on holding God's hand instead of all that's wrong with the world. Kingdom focus versus frustration with the fall is a matter of what you gaze at!

The fruit/berries grow by God's gentle hand...through His rain, the soil nourishing and the nature of the plant abiding in where it is planted to bear the fruit. Doesn't this sound like John 15 about abiding in the vine...fruit is the natural product of abiding. This takes some pressure off to conjure up ministry...fruit in our life MUST come from drinking deep of water that satisfy the soul (His spirit), nourishment from His Word and knowing our calling (what type of plant He created us to be)! Then trust fruit will come out of desire internal to the gifts He has planted in our hearts as we are fed from Him. In the woods, berries literally fall off the bush when they are ripe...this has taught me about timing. God's timing is perfect, fruit comes at the right time and can't be rushed. It requires patience and trust that more is coming when you see those luscious berries turning from creamy white to red to maroon to ever-deepening purple. This is true in our own fruit bearing whether it be internally or externally...wait upon the Lord and trust His timing and expect good fruit from the wait.

Gathering berries is a bit like a treasure hunt...their exact whereabouts is a bit of a mystery. While you can spot a bush yards away, only by stepping closer can you actually observe if there is fruit growing. Then step by step, reach by reach, purple nuggets are collected one by one, sometimes handful by handful. Places that were bountiful in previous years may be barren, and new areas may produce a bumper crop. This is a good reminder that God doesn't work the same way twice...just because He previously blessed an area in my life doesn't mean that that is where to camp assuming more fruit will come in the same way and through the same process...He's way too creative for that! Since He longs for relationship and not religion/routine, He delights in our taking risk in new areas where He is leading and not simply returning to old ways of blessing. As we take steps nearer to the path He is calling you to, He will make the way obvious...the promise of Is. 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way walk in it!" AND don't assume by what you see...there have been areas in my berry patch that looked empty of fruit, however, bending over either out of curiosity or from losing my footing and stumbling, has revealed hidden treasures not seen by where I was standing. Much like prayer and humility, surrendering to Jesus gives new perspective blinded to the independent heart. Truly on our knees we can see more!

Once the berries have been collected, there are several ways I love to enjoy them...right out of the bowl, on cereal or pancakes, frozen for future pleasure, made into a pie, the joy of giving them away...some of these are simply savored by me, some of these are enjoyed with others. This is the kingdom of God...nuggets dwelling richly in me and also made sweet through fellowship or simply given away to bless others in their journey. In all of it may He be glorified and may the riches of the kingdom be gathered, savored and multiplied!

You may not be bitten by the berry picking bug that I have, but I hope you ARE simply longing for more fruit in your life. Yes, the fruit is always there for the picking...remember the fields are ripe, but its the workers that are few...I encourage you to keep your eyes on the fruit and not the thorns (what stands in the way of what God has for you). Arm yourself to avoid the buzz of the mosquitoes (the whisper campaign of the enemy), grow up in the robe of righteousness with which Christ has robed you and practice using His mighty armor..it is what will protect you on the battle field for your heart and the hearts of others. There is LIFE and TREASURE to be found step by step if only you would desire it above all. Like the fruit I gather, there would be none if I didn't desire it and invest well to win the battle for berries! The same is true in the Kingdom, take the risk...Go for fruit...Avoid sitting on the sidelines discouraged by the mosquitoes and thorns...Seek your Commander, Engage in the battle, then taste and see that the Lord is good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hope, Joy and Peace

Hope, joy and peace...who doesn't long for more of these? As lovers of Jesus, these are our birthrights! This is part of the GOOD NEWS...yes, Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven eternally, but temporally, He has given these treasures as well, more than the anxiety, concern, fatigue and uncertainty I get trapped in! In light of this, I love the verse Romans 15:13
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I am encouraged that the God of hope is the one doing the filling, like the teapot in the picture...He is the rich source, not me having to grasp at something. He is such a kind father and giver of good gifts! And who doesn't want to be filled with joy and peace...sometimes that almost seems too good to be true! The part that I get stuck at is "trust"...sure in my mind I know I can trust Him, but my heart is weak and honestly I think I try to get my life in order, or problems solved first, then when I'm not anxious or stirred up about something, there will be plenty of room for trust. This never happens! Swing and a miss! Trust cannot be circumstance dependent!

I looked up the key words in this beloved verse in the Websters dictionary and rewrote it using the definitions and inserting personal pronouns...this verse took on even deeper meanings, more encouragement and really speaks to my heart...here's what I found:
"May the God of (trust in whom is my confidence) (put in me as much as I can hold, satisfy, feed) me with all (emotions of well being, delight) and (freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts, security) as I (place my confidence, depend, hope, am without fear, rely on truth) in Him, so that I may (flow over the brim) with (trust, confidence in Him) by the (authority, physical might, means of supplying energy, influence) of the Holy Spirit."
I am challenged by asking myself how much room is there in my heart for the Holy Spirit to supply delight and security so that trust in God would flow over my brim.

able to jump to the wrong conclusion in a single bound!
For me, the phrase "freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts" holds a key the type of vessel I allow myself to be. This takes on a whole new meaning to "taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). This is my role in preparing my heart to receive the peace and joy the Holy Spirit would love to supply. As an act of worship and obedience I can keep my thought life in check, resisting figuring out solutions to troubles on my own or letting empathetic feelings rule when I hear of a tragedy...these are burdens I easily pick up and carry and I grow weak and anything but joyful and peaceful. In a way, it is saying I don't trust God to carry these, I must do it. As I gaze at the broken world we live in, what do I see...brokeness and if I dwell on that it declares hopelessness. BUT God is the God of HOPE, He is a redeemer...one who makes things new and better than the original...He must be my gaze above what I see on earth.

For two days, when I've been tempted to dwell on tragedies, brokeness or things I simply wish were different for myself or others I love...I have simply said, "no, I will not elevate these...Jesus thank You that You see these and You have the answer. Show me my part if there is one, otherwise I choose to trust You to work all things together for good with Your wisdom and many resources and I ask You to work in that situation, etc." In a way, I am setting Jesus Christ apart to worship Him and not circumstances. And you know what...there is delight and security filling in my heart...hmmm...aren't these "code" words for joy and peace?! The source - the Holy Spirit, the vessel - my heart that chose to empty itself of oppressive thoughts to place my confidence in Him. And the overflow or the flowing over the brim - hopefully my mouth. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him." Matt. 12:34-35

What's coming out of your mouth? What topics do you find yourself thinking/stewing/talking about? Are these emphasizing the fallen world or trust in the God of hope? Are you carrying burdens as if there is no God bigger than yourself like I was? Take notice of your thoughts and words, these could be the joy robbers of your soul and the stealer of confidence in God. We need to emply our hearts of self, the world and lies so they may be filled...like trying to fill a watering can with water that is 3/4 filled with sand, the overflow will be murky water, but an empty vessel fills with pure water and pours forth clear, refreshing streams. Similarly, a stuffed up heart will not have much room for the joy and peace the Holy Spirit longs to supply to overflowing. Here's to the hope, joy and peace that Jesus longs to give and we so desperately need!