Posted on September 13, 2022 by Paris Renae
I’m a words person. Years ago, Gary Smalley wrote the 5 Love Languages; mine is words. Flowers don’t do it. Gifts are ok. But a card with love words and additional handwritten sentiment, that’s what means the most to me. Our voice isn’t just verbal, it comes through in what we write to others.
Notice that God showers the earth with flowers, gives us gifts of life, children, our very breath. But He made sure to write down all we need to know and filled the pages with a love so deep we can’t even begin to fathom how it could be. He wants us to know His voice even when we don’t audibly hear it. Then there is no mistaking it.
Many will come along saying they are speaking for God. There have been before, and there will be again, those who claim to be God. Only if we hear His voice through the Bible, will we know they are the false ones – out to deceive. John 10 is a beautiful illustration of Jesus as our Shepherd. This verse is key: “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize his voice.” (John 10:5 BSB)
Thirty-nine years into marriage, I recognize my husband’s voice; know my children’s and friends’ voices. There are authors whose writing styles I love. I’ve never heard them speak, but their voice comes through their writing. Our God wants us to know Him well – for He knows us better than we know ourselves.
I don’t know about you but starting each day with a word from the Savior is a comfort I need to get through. “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2Corinthians 1:4 NLT)
On board a flight recently, I skipped taking a decongestant that helps my ears during take-off and landing. The pilot did a slow-circle-the-storm kind of landing. My ear began to build pressure. By the time we landed I almost couldn’t hear out of it.
Everything was muffled, like I was in a tunnel. I had to watch my husband speak to make out his words as a cacophony of other voices drifted around us. Our spiritual ears need to be tuned to the Holy Spirit. Lots of other voices will try to persuade us.
What we need to hear are Truth words, being sure our hearts and souls are grounded in the Word of the Lord. Then our words will shine the good news of eternal life and of hope and of love. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 BSB) Hear Christ’s voice.
Posted on September 6, 2022 by Paris Renae
Never a dull moment – I think that about sums up life these days, right? I for one am a bit weary and long for a break, a quiet, a sense it’s all okay.
Recently we flew to see our out-of-state son and his family. The visit was wonderful – some of the mishaps along the way…not so much. The first night I woke up to extreme vertigo – having never experienced this, I was freaking out. Trying to right a spinning world in a hotel room, hundreds of miles from home, and not wanting to ruin the trip – not my idea of a good time.
Vertigo is just plain scary. Nothing looks right or feels right. All you want in the midst of it, is to see clearly. There is a story of a man born blind, all his years spent in the darkness. As Jesus and His disciples approach where he is, they inquire of the Lord why he was born blind, was it sin?
Jesus assures them this is not the case. You can read the full account in John 9. But the most poignant moment is found towards the end of the story. The man did not see who healed him, for he was sent by Jesus to go wash his eyes. Nobody believed he was who he said he was – or they thought perhaps he had never really been blind. A miracle happened and doubt was the response.
But the man knew. When questioned about who did it, he told them ‘the man called Jesus’ – but having never seen Him he didn’t know Him. Things got so out of hand, the priests threw him out of the temple.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, He said “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is He, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.” Jesus said “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him. (John 9:35-38 NIV)
There are several things happening in this passage: finding, telling, seeing, hearing, believing, worshipping. Jesus purposely looked for the man, Jesus told him who He was, the man saw, the man heard, the man believed and he worshiped.
Today, we do not see Jesus in flesh, but we can see His followers. We can see His written Word. We can see with our heart and soul and spirit. The question is: will we worship? It is the only response a truly surrendered heart can have to such a gift as Messiah. The story is an illustration for our lives – to seek others out and to tell His story, by telling our story of God in our lives. A tired world needs to see the Jesus in you.
Posted on August 30, 2022 by Paris Renae
The last few weeks I’ve woven a faith journey into a road trip taken earlier this summer. Today, I’m who knows how high above the earth, with someone else at the wheel.
Keeping it short this week by taking a few moments to ponder the ways the Lord leads us. Turns out there a many, many verses throughout the Bible that have to do with journeys, roads, paths, the way, following Him. Below are just a few, I encourage you to find more. (A good resource when you’re looking for a verse about a topic or with a specific word is: http://www.biblehub.com.)
Psalm 119:05 Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. (NLT)
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will give you counsel and watch over you. (BSB)
Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a straight path because of my oppressors. (NIV)
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. (NLT)
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (ESV)
Proverbs 3:17 (speaking of wisdom) Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. (NIV)
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)
And so many more. The best journey we can take in life is one spent daily reading the Bible and finding the way to our true home. May all your paths lead to Jesus…
Posted on August 23, 2022 by Paris Renae
The last few days of our back roads trip started with a final descent leaving foothills in the rearview mirror. But not without one last hold-on-to-the-wheel-here-we-go moment.
I thought the twists and turns were behind us, it was okay a few more were left, but our timing made it a bit more treacherous. Shortly after climbing a hill and making a turn, a dense fog set in. I noticed as I made the turn a law enforcement car turned the same way. As I ever so slowly crept through the curves trying to see more than the three feet in front of me, I was glad someone who knew the road and would help if I messed up, was behind me.
Consider this verse: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV) Solomon, who wrote this verse, chose some great paths, but too often he chose his own way and learned the hard way. He spent a lot of time writing about wisdom – ironically it was the one thing he asked God for and the thing he often neglected.
That foggy road was not near as winding or steep as the others had been. The difference was my vision was limited. In life when we are going along and all is falling into place, it’s easy to see what the next step should be.
But when we hit those places where everything has suddenly changed, and not for the better, we lose sight of the way. We begin to doubt God – we retreat, or we pull up our ‘bootstraps’ – either way, we want out. Oh, we of little faith.
That is the joy and peace of knowing Jesus as Savior. Just like the officer in the car behind me, our Messiah never leaves us. We may feel all alone, wondering why we are on this road. But the truth is, as we most often discover, our constant Companion is faithful, even when we are not.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 BSB) We must never forget this – the world would lead us down its broad road – and it does appear easier, happier. But the road that will leave all sorrow and pain, heartache and body ailments, fear and death in the rearview mirror, that road is a bit more challenging to navigate.
In the end, it leads to LIFE. Getting there is an earth journey full of triumphs and defeats, sorrows and joy for all mankind, believer or doubter. Which road are you on? Do you know the way? The narrow road to life is a forever of all God intended for His beloved creation; the broad road, that’s a sorrow-filled eternity.
Posted on August 16, 2022 by Paris Renae
Native Florida girl that I am, elevation changes make my ears pop. Lots of chewing gum and yawning. But something about those Tennessee/North Carolina mountains beckons me.
Thinking I had already tackled the most challenging part of driving on this trip, I had no idea what I was in for as we set out to begin the trek on the backroads home. We woke to no electricity – also meaning no running water. So, we set out early thinking we would get breakfast in a quaint town just twenty-seven miles away.
Abraham’s story in the Old Testament is fascinating. Full of ups and downs – and a whole lot of faith. Not only did God call him to leave everything he knew and go to an unknown place, the Lord promised him a son. Just when he thought it was never going to happen, Sarah bore Isaac. Their pride and joy. A few years later: “Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:2 NIV)
Umm, Abraham was old – Sarah was old. Isacc was it. But faithful man that he was, he made the three-day trip (walking). And then, he and Isaac, had to climb a mountain – no trails marked out or cleared.
Long story short, as Abraham was about to show his devotion and love of God, exceeding that of his love of Isaac, God provided the sacrificial ram. And we have the benefit of a powerful witness showing us how we are to respond in our life’s challenges.
What I thought was going to be about forty minutes before I was sitting in front of a hot breakfast – was actually about two hours with a steep elevation climb of two thousand feet – and then a descent of another thousand feet. Once we made it, only one place in town was open – and take-out pastries and coffee were it. Pout. Acquiesce.
“…Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.” (Matthew 17:1b NLT) And the events that happened next, they will never forget. But first they had to climb the mountain – probably grumbling a bit, wondering how long. The very voice of God spoke on that mountain, and all the struggle to get there was forgotten. I bet when they came down, they were practically floating in amazement.
My journey that day wasn’t quite as significant, but it was a teaching moment with lessons I can carry. Things like, expect the unexpected when you’re in unfamiliar territory and embrace it. Things like, look for the beauty and provision in what is there, not what you hoped was there. And most of all, that Jesus makes the climbs with us, and steadies us on the descents. Our lives are gonna have hard climbs, but someday there’s going to be a forever that we can’t even begin to fathom. “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1Corinthians 2:9 NLT)
Posted on August 9, 2022 by Paris Renae
There were stretches on our back roads adventure that were smooth sailing. Easy roads without elevation changes or blind curves. Other than watching the speed limit, we could coast along enjoying the scenery.
Thankfully we have times in our lives like that as well. Days where all our plans come together. Months where no one gets sick. But I’ve found we don’t stay in coasting mode long.
David, (as in the greatest King Israel ever had), met many obstacles on his path towards ruling the nation of Israel. But then came the time of coasting. Life is good: wealth, popularity, heirs. What more could he want? So, when he neglected to lead his army on an expedition and decided instead to stay home, coasting up to the roof for some nighttime fresh air made for a whole lot of trouble. (See 2Samuel 11-12)
We tend to enjoy life when all seems well, we tend also to forget/neglect/ignore God. We get a little too comfortable. We begin to think we deserve the break, the financial security, the lack of conflict, the good health, the esteem.
I’m not saying God allows troubles to come our way just when things are going well. God is always about our good and His glory. Honestly, it really comes down to our priorities getting off track – forgetting how much we need to stay connected to our Savior – that leads to many of our issues. “I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other!” (Revelation 3:15 BSB – see 3:14-22 for how the Lord feels about our apathy)
Then again, God does often get our attention in a way that will grow us. And there’s the fact that we live in a fallen world, and we can’t escape those effects. As I drove the easy stretches of road, taking in all the scenery, I would sometimes hear the bump bump bump of having gone over the double yellow line; or the rerouting of the gps because I missed a turn. Both got my attention, both helped me pay attention to what was important.
The church at Laodicea mentioned above in Revelation 3 looked like they followed Jesus. But the Holy Spirit knows our hearts. Outward appearances aren’t enough. God wants our hearts. Not because it benefits Him, but because He knows it’s what we need to truly live the life He has routed out for us. “The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1Samuel 16:7b NIV)
Our enemy is sly (satan) and deception is his specialty. We can’t let him, or the world distract us. Keeping focused on the journey towards eternity, whether we’re in coasting mode or survival mode, will get us to where we’re going. “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NLT)
Posted on August 2, 2022 by Paris Renae
Mountain roads can be tricky. The curves, switchbacks, and altitude climbs aren’t for the faint of heart. Our most recent excursion was the most challenging. While I truly enjoy driving those mountain roads, these particularly put me to the test.
If you go back to the book of Genesis, you’ll discover Joseph. Way too much to tell about him here, but suffice it to say his brothers were super jealous of him and the actions they took put him on a winding road with lots of challenges for many years. How would you react if every time you did the right thing, you wound up in jail forgotten?
Winding roads – like when you buy a home, then lose a job. When you plan on children, then can’t conceive. When you celebrate an anniversary, and your spouse unexpectedly passes away. These are stories of our lives. Where is God? Joseph, like us, probably questioned God many times along the way. In the end it was obvious to him and he declared “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:8 NIV)
Relief came when I saw the sign for the turnout for the waterfall trail. It was nice to park and stretch. The thought occurred to me that the walking trail might have a few turns of its own – but there was promise of a reward.
Fortunately, the hike was nowhere near as windy as the drive, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves standing behind a waterfall. Water roaring over the side so loud we could barely hear each other talk. It was worth the drive.
Fast forward to the book of Acts. A man named Saul (later called Paul) was at the zenith of his ‘career’ – a Pharisee of Pharisees as he was known. It hadn’t been long since Jesus had risen from the dead and gone back to heaven, when Paul decided it was his duty to round up every follower of Christ and squash their foolishness.
But God…He had other plans for Paul. On the road to Damascus, which had enough challenges of its own, suddenly Paul was blinded. He was led, by those with him, groping the rest of the way to town; for three days he refused food or drink. The ironic part is the house he was led to was on a road called Straight Street.
A man named Ananias was sent to Paul by God. After saying to Paul all God had instructed him to say, the Holy Spirit did His mighty work. Paul’s blindness left him and the first thing he wanted to do was be baptized as a follower of the Savior. Only God takes us from our winding roads and leads us to Straight Street. God used Paul to write most of the New Testament. Just like Paul, we are blinded by our selfish hearts – and just like Paul, we can follow our winding road straight to eternity. Every curve is worth that reward. “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17 NIV) He wants to do the same for us!
Posted on July 26, 2022 by Paris Renae
(For the next few weeks I invite you to go on a road trip with me. Some of them will be uphill, some winding, some smooth – but the final destination is worth the trip.)
Done any road trips this summer? We did – with a twist. We decided that once we left Florida, we would avoid all major highways and only take back roads. It took longer, but it was worth it.
This reminds me of life. So often I just want to take the direct route, get the outcome I want, and go on to the next thing. While the destinations may not have always looked like I thought, I wouldn’t change them.
Whether you’re a Bible scholar or on the fence about Jesus, I’m thinking you’ve heard of Moses. From the beginning his journey was a bit precarious. But the part everyone remembers is Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The road they were on led straight to the Red Sea with the army of Egypt close behind. The miracle of the sea parting and walking through on dry land has got to be the ultimate journey. The Red Sea Road, God’s provision at its most spectacular. But somewhere on the other side, the gps got lost…for forty years. Yikes! (Exodus starting at the end of chapter 13)
While I don’t think we’ll see seas parted, that doesn’t mean we won’t see God make a way. Sometimes we insist on making our own way – and wander about for days and maybe years. But when that dead end stops us, Jesus isn’t saying ‘Told you so’. More like, ‘This way, follow Me’.
I have an innate sense of direction and a good memory for how to get places I’ve been on previous travels. But sometimes there’s another way, a better way. So, instead of second guessing the GPS, I followed – and it was an easier route to the mountaintop. Hmmm, wish I would apply that to life. Our GPS (if you’re a follower of Jesus) is the Holy Spirit. But sometimes…we just don’t listen. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 BSB)
Here’s the funny thing, I’m a momma of three and grammy to six, daily I pray they don’t have hard roads. Wishing they could learn from my mistakes. It doesn’t work that way (much to my dismay). For each of us God has a purpose, a plan, a destination. How we get there, that’s another thing.
I get to do the driving on our trips – my hubby is content to sit back and enjoy the ride (make his phone calls and keep up with business). That pretty much correlates to my life at times. At the wheel, going my way. I’ve learned – slowly – that it’s a pretty good idea to let Jesus lead.
He knows the way. We’ll avoid a lot more potholes and, though they won’t be completely without hazards, we’ll be on the right track. Still ready to join me on a journey the next few weeks? I’ll share some crazy roads with you – and our Father, God Almighty, will tell us about some He’s led others along too. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” (Psalm 145:3 NIV)
Posted on June 29, 2022 by Paris Renae
For the first time in nine years, I’m taking a break for a month. Lord willing, I will post again towards the end of July. Until then, here are a few things I want you to know…
Finally: “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NLT) Paris
Posted on June 21, 2022 by Paris Renae
I’m a list person. I love making a to-do list, a packing list, a grocery list – a list for my hubby (smile). I love crossing off the lists. So much so, that when I do something not on the list, I sometimes write it then cross it off – weird, I know, but satisfying somehow.
Lists are my reminders; they make my life simpler. God knows this is true for most of us – so, His Word often reminds us of the things we shouldn’t lose sight of. In 1 Corinthians Paul starts off in the very beginning giving us three key reminders. We don’t need to cross these off, we get to hang on to them.
Reminder number one: “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 1:7 NLT)
Every spiritual gift you need – He’s not holding back on you. Not waiting for you to get ‘good enough’, not waiting for you to own up to your shortcomings, not waiting til just the right time. The moment you tell Jesus you want Him as your Savior, you get it all.
Problem is, we don’t live as though we do. We think we must ‘do’ something, pray something, read something, sacrifice something. Messiah tells us otherwise – He’s done all that’s needed. He’s redeemed us, He loves us, He is with us. Reminder number two: “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” (1Corinthians 1:8 NLT)
Strong – I want to be strong, right now. What a promise that Jesus keeps us strong. Oh, we may not feel that way at times – mainly because we aren’t. He is. He is our strength. Through every storm, ups and downs. To the end – end of earthly living. Whether that comes by death or Christ’s return – earth life ends, forever life begins.
Then Paul tells us that when Jesus does return for us, we will be ‘free from all blame’. How can it be? I blow it every day. That goes back to reminder number one, He’s taken all our blame, done deal. This certainly is a good addition to our reminder list, and we can rest in the fact that it never gets crossed off.
Reminder number three: “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1Corinthians 1:9 BSB) This may be the most important reminder: God is faithful. Hard concept for us fickle humans. Our love, devotion, sincerity runs hot and cold – depends on our feelings. Faithful isn’t a feeling for God, it’s Him. He is the definition of faithful. Even when we are not. I needed these reminders today – maybe we need to make this list in big bold letters and hang it on the wall.
PLaY CReaTivEly WitH YoUr LiTtLe OnE
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