Deuteronomy is the “second” law and explanation of what took place after the Exodus. It is a book filled with cursing and blessing. The saddest chapter is when God refuses to engage Moses any longer and tells him that he will not be able to enter the Promised Land. All the journey rewards and the final prize are not released because Moses forgot God was the ultimate judge and provider. The sentence that clinches it is when we are told that Moses lived in a valley the rest of his days. Rewind a bit…  what was it that Moses forgot? That Aaron forgot? It seems maybe it was loving God with their whole heart, soul and mind. They exchange their close relationship with the Lord and get focused on the people instead. That’s the snare of leadership. When we start to “play to the crowd” instead of serving and obeying God, we run the risk of offending a holy God. Over and over in this book God reminds them to “choose His ways”. (The four letter word usually placed there is omitted to avoid FB scans that block blogs like these.)

This precious book is known for two big components: Reviewing  God miracles and going over their role and responsibilities (Covenant) in the new journey. Both of those messages are couched in the larger issue of whole- hearted worship of God. The Millennial’s and children of Moses day needed to hear about the miracles. They did not have first hand knowledge of a God who wanted to be present and active among them.

We are reading a book of the Bible a week and learning all kinds of stuff about the God we serve. It’s intense but enjoyable. We are more religious than necessary though. What? Yes, I learned that too this week. Deut. 31:10 says we are to read this book every SEVEN years to our children and all the people. Ugh. Here I was feeling guilty that I didn’t read through the Bible every year with my kids. Feeling some extra grace this  morning!  So what would God have us focus on if not voracious Bible reading yearly? Maybe loving Him with our whole hearts? Or perhaps the other things listed in Deuteronomy that are front and center:

  1. Review God’s miracles.
  2. Know and live the Covenant (rights, responsibilities)

When we do those things we will learn to fear, love, honor and reverence God. That sounds good to me. Also, not dragging kids thru the Bible at break neck speed but loving them along the road sounds pretty good too. I hear a loud amen from the boys’.

When I was younger my friends and I would take a Bible passage, read it all day, go out in a field and hash it over with each other, pray and ask God what He thought about it and then we would live it out practically, coming back together the next week to compare notes. We were never disappointed. I remember many stories from those days that continue to refresh my faith today. Stories of God providing, healing and setting up divine appointments. God was actively involved in our lives. I have two stories that take several hours to tell. They inspire people to get on fire for God when they hear them and seem to encounter God in new and fresh ways. “God is awesome” stories have a way of feeding our faith. Two things that hinder that today: People who think storytellers are boasting or grandstanding so they throw shade on whatever is said thus condemning the person trying to praise God. The other group is well meaning – they urge “fresh and new” stories which is understandable if you are calling people to move forward in their walk. However, we don’t want to suspend the “good ol day” stories too much or the younger generation will not understand the workings of God. Valuing old and pressing on for new might be a good balance. The focus – keep telling whatever praise stories possible until you are so full of faith and God that you burst out in praise and proclamation! Our pastor has encouraged and called for the saints to proclaim what God is doing today in our lives and it is creating a stir of excitement among Gods’ people. He is building the congregations faith while causing them to remember God’s goodness. 

Acts 2:46 tells us that “…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  Coming together and praising God is Old and New testament. Whether it is in church or in the backyard with lemonade doesn’t matter half as much as getting together to share God stories. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24 for more insight regarding that passage. There is nothing on Netflix or at the movie theater that can compare or even come close to the praise reports of a living, loving and magnificent God.

The joy of getting older – yes there is a joy to it. For a second let’s forget creaky knees that ache when the temperatures drop. For a minute let’s ignore the thinning hair and glory brown spots on our hands, wrinkled with time. There are things we may not love but the absolute thrill and joy of seeing a spiritual harvest is incredible. The miracle of watching God thread people and souls and blessings thru the halls of time to make His kingdom known – incomparable. I feel like shouting right now! I’ve seen little children grow and walk into their ministries, missions and marriage. I can look back over the years and declare to my kids and grandkids – indeed God HAS BEEN faithful. Did I tell you about the time….?

I had friends come visit me for just an hour one day to catch up. They ended up staying three days and we spent the entire time sharing miracle and God stories. We bought stuff for sandwiches and just praised God for days on end. It was life changing. Another teenage friend once spent 16 hours just chatting about God’s goodness during a blizzard. We never run out of things to thank Him for and those stories still “light my fire” today. What have you seen God do for you, for others? When have you stepped out in faith and seen God come through? It is time to share those moments with the next generation. Before TMZ gives them a different narrative, before Facebook has them “like” another 10,000 stories of some political nutwings agenda, we need to saturate their minds and memories with the awesome love of a miracle working God. You ever see God provide? Perhaps move mountains, heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind? Then, remind yourself and others WHO GOD IS and WHAT HE CAN DO!!!

Covenant – Rights and responsibilities:

In my family anyone who reads Deuteronomy 28 -30 and can discuss it with me is given $25.00. It’s just that important to know. We all have choices to make and this is a good framework to understand what is the best way to live our lives. 28:49-50 are especially relevant to this generation – so much so that to write it out would create flags on Facebook. Read it and you will understand. Christianity is not everyone getting some random blessing by Osmosis. God has conditions, preferences and boundaries. This book marvelously points out some of that framework. It is not an easy read. You will be so thankful for the NEW Covenant through Jesus by the time you are done reading it.

Another verse I like is in Deut.1:17: Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgement belongs to God. Throughout the book we are called to not only know God is just but to be just as He is Just. We are continually called to enjoy, honor and wholeheartedly obey God. The benefits include being prosperous, the apple of God’s eyes and His chosen people. Pretty amazing promises!

This book is like a chiropractic visit – it’s painful but will nudge things back in place, reminding us of what and WHO is important. To not heed these warnings – well that’s like ignoring the oil change light on your car, it will not end well. Yes, it’s true we all have choice but it is also true God is the only One who will ultimately reward us with blessings or consequences for ALL those choices. We saw thru Moses  and Aaron that God cannot be cajoled or scammed into changing His mind. He reserves the right to accept or deny our requests. How we live today matters to how and where we will live tomorrow and beyond.

If you have time and an extra cup of coffee this week – or a weekend and some sandwich fixings, let me know…  I have some stories that will absolutely thrill your soul and I’m also hoping you will share some of yours with me as well. We must remember this: DO NOT FORGET! 

Remembering and enjoying His love, praying both will impact the next generation….

RenaeRoche2019

Last year I exercised almost every day. I lost weight, my blood pressure went down, my sugar went down, my cholesterol went down, and I felt like a million bucks. This year I was feeling strong and wonderful so one or two chocolate puddings wouldn’t hurt. Then it grew to daily drinking Sprite zero. Well, you know, I work hard so a slice of pizza for lunch couldn’t hurt much, since I’ve been doing well. The candy is tempting … you get the picture.  Working out for a season does not provide LIFELONG results. Starting out right is not the same as finishing well. When it came to enter the Promised land, the Israelites were not getting the keep keeping on idea. They stopped often to grumble and complain, thinking they could do their own thing.

It reminds me of my kindergarten graduation. I walked the “line” in my new special dress, I sang “I’m a little teapot” in my best voice and recited the poems our teacher taught us. Was I surprised when they told me I had to go back to school the next year. But I graduated! Didn’t that celebration mean anything? Grade school, high school, Bible school, seminary, graduate school… this stuff just won’t end. It is a principle that we can see really clear in the book of Numbers. God did not just save us FROM sin, God saves us to something… the Promised Land, Destiny and a life lived in glory for HIM. We don’t just leave Egypt and STOP.

This week we were reading in Numbers. Studying a book of the Bible weekly is vigorous but there is so much good stuff in there!  I want to share three of the highlights that inspired me. In Numbers 6:24-26 is says:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelite’s. Say to them:

24 “The Lord BLESS you and keep you;
25 the Lord make His face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn His face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelite’s, and I will bless them.”  When you are heading across a hot desert with a nation, this would have been a pretty good promise!

The word bless here is barak in Hebrew. It means to benefit, adore and congratulate. It is a HUGE, over the top type blessing. It follows a narrative about purity and the importance of living a holy life –obeying His ways. We have a Lord who helps us stay pure. We have a God who desires to bless us. Paul said it this way, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:32). We take these verses for granted because they are spoken in a lot of churches but they were not meant for the General crowd – only those who follow God in purity and truth. That’s a much different message than the one the world will tell you. Do we win God’s approval by our actions? No, but He still wants us to be holy and that is often overlooked in a culture that values equal treatment in every arena regardless of life choices.

God wants to bless us and keep (protect, watch, guard over) us.

He also wants to illuminate our pathway and give us pity, kindness and compassion. When these blessings are spoken and received, God’s name is placed on us – His reputation, fame, glory and renown, then… It says once God sees that on our lives, He blesses us again!  That’s amazing. If His peace includes completeness, safety, soundness in body, welfare such as good health and prosperity, quietness, tranquility, contentment, friendship and peace = that’s BETTER than winning the Superbowl!  God wants to bless His followers, specifically YOU.

That same loving, blessing God speaks to Moses in the desert. In the New Testament, Hebrews 1 tells us that in these last days God has spoken to us through His son, Jesus. Hearing Gods voice happens over 100 times in the Bible.  Christianity is the only religion I know of where the God is actively participating and speaking in the life of the follower. The voice of the Lord shows us how involved and alive He is!  When you are heading to the Promised land, that is good information to keep at hand and repeat often.

These concepts are basic yet when we find ourselves in a time of discouragement or disillusionment isn’t that the thing that creeps in our mind and accuses God before us? “Is He real? Is He good and trustworthy or a tyrant and villain? These verses show us what a kind, compassionate God He really is. Yea, but… does He want to bless me, actually- me? Yes, all those who follow Him with a pure heart. The 613 commandments cannot be met daily but standing behind Jesus and letting His life pay for all weaknesses and sin certainly can.

Numbers 15 tells us about the visual reminder of God’s commandments and promises. Moses instructed the people to tie tassels (tzitzit) on their garments so that they could remember His love for them and that He wanted to speak to them through His precepts and their leaders. We’ve tried it here for a few days and it is cool. It is not salvific, meaning it cannot save us. It does not earn us brownie points with God, but it does keep us in a pattern of listening to what God says instead of the enemies lies about God. Watching the Superbowl game Sunday was fascinating – the team did not function as individuals. They kept going back to their huddle, the coach and reminding themselves of the rule book. It was not “beyond or beneath them” even though they had won multiple Superbowls before. 

God wants to bless, keep us and make us shine. God wants to give us Peace and the reputation and glory of His very name. God wants us to remember His ways and promises. If we really got a hold of just those 3 things , our lives would drastically change.

Numbers is a great book – lots of very specific instruction on continuing in our journeys as we head HOME. Remember my forgotten exercise routine, my kindergarten graduation? In error, we think once we are saved, that is it. No more building, tearing down old things or following God’s pattern –we just move forward with our lives and think it’s all good. But it doesn’t work that way. The benefits of our relationship with God, like exercise and other Spiritual disciplines cease when we discontinue it. It is not an accumulative relationship but a living, breathing relationship. Seeking and following God must continue until its GAME OVER. 

Wherever you are on your journey, maybe it is walking away from your past, or maybe you are stuck in the desert? Maybe you are trudging along but have lost heart to keep moving. Wherever you stand – start walking and remind yourselves of the very things God did to encourage the Israelite’s:

 

“I want to, and I am going to BLESS you, make my face shine on you and give you PEACE.

I want to and will speak with you – avail yourself to hear ME.

I want you to actively remind yourself of my ways and promises (NT – hear Jesus). “

You are not alone as you continue walking towards the Promised land. If you are receiving God’s blessing and listening for His voice, being reminded of His ways and promises – now THAT’S a WIN!  Congratulations.

RenaeRoche2019

 

 

 “‘Our family   went to Winter Jam in KC over the weekend. All day Saturday I cleaned and got ready for our supper time – spaghetti squash, dump cake, fresh breadsticks out of the oven.  Then my husband decided to be spontaneous and we got in the van and went down to the Sprint Center for the concert. I think the supper is still covered in the fridge! The table is still set. We scrambled and then ate hotdogs.

The Newsboys and every artist were amazing. Leviticus is our book this month and has quite a bit to say about worship. “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord“‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”  I don’t  know if God had in mind loud guitars and light shows but after leaving that building we felt like Gods presence was among us. The word, the music, the fellowship…. off the charts awesome. My dump cake and supper = it was all secondary to what my family needed the most – more of God.

So, God does re- dos. Remember the Garden of Eden? They missed out on walking with God and things got pretty dark? Then the Exodus. Look at this verse in Leviticus:

12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

Last months blog was about Exodus but in the middle of that week New York decided to enact a new law. The blog spoke to those decisions beforehand. God cares about our laws and if we are “hostile” to His.  I encourage you to read Leviticus with new vision this month. It speaks to praising God for what HE has done rather than doing stuff to get in His favor or grab His attention.

If we want His favor, His blessing, to walk with Him = we need to worship Him, know Him and follow His ways. When we do , the yokes come off, when we do, the fellowship is sweet, when we do choose to worship Him, it affects the whole nation.

I want God’s blessing in my life. I want God’s blessing in the life of my family, church and nation. Sometimes setting aside our work and taking up His takes effort and disappoints our plans but it is ALWAYS worth the effort if it is to posture our hearts towards God and do His will.

Watching my kids raise their hands to God and hear about Jesus – no crockpot meal could accomplish that. 

Lord, align our lives to YOUR schedule, align our hearts to YOUR bidding, align ALL  our worship to YOU !

Leviticus – a book for today and eternity. Thanks WinterJam 2019!

RenaeRoche2019

 

 

Oh, my — I never realized the “play” book God put in place centuries ago so that we could understand Him. He put things down in writing so we could know how to be on His winning team. It’s very basic really and so simple a child could understand yet a scholar can never grasp. To the seeker and true fan, patterns and jewels will be seen. To the scoffer the page is only filled with ink and space. Let’s check out Exodus 1: 

“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.”  Poor king, he was the one on the throne, but his story revolves around the life of a guy with some colorful threads. Joseph was despised by his family but God had other plans for him.  God likes to write stories on His own timeline. So, the king starts blowing smoke and starts rolling the stone to manipulate people to his way of thinking and to build his own kingdom. He did not read Proverbs 26:27 which says, “whoever digs a pit will fall into it, if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.” When people set out to intentionally harm someone — that never goes unnoticed by a righteous God. So, this king maneuvers a plan to hurt the Israelites, invites others into his scheme (making them complicit in his wickedness)  and then oppresses the very ones who were bringing natural and divine blessing into his country.

The plan was to murder all the baby boys.  

This was the plan to capture a generation, to put the wicked kings’ kingdom in motion. If you want to annihilate a people, don’t go for the ones in the fields, go after their babies. If you wipe out the babies you can guarantee that another nation will suppress and rule them quickly. It’s a strategy right out of the book of Exodus. Wipe out their children and the sheer numbers of the new ones coming in will guarantee their ruler-ship within one generation. This wasn’t the first wicked king that came up with this idea- it was in the play book centuries before him and my contention would be straight from the garden of evil. Going after a nations children is what Hitler did, it was what Stalin did. While no one is watching the inconsequential lives of the children, plans are put in place and nations are altered.

There are some unsung heroes in this chapter. I’ve read this story hundreds of times and skipped over it to get to what I thought was the main thing. In God – ALL involved in the story are His main thing.  Two nurses {midwives in their generation) were skilled at what they did. Seeing life and death makes people become grounded. Focusing on saving a mama’s life creates a strength that cannot be learned in a medical textbook. These women were commissioned to do one thing – bring healthy babies into the world. If you know a nurse you know that they are extraordinarily called. They get up early, work thru the night and do things no one else will or can do. They are a special breed often working undercover.   God has given them a task and they have an incredible fortitude. Anyone who could hear screams and look at blood and guts is tougher than your average bear. It does not matter how much the papas huff and puff or the leaders around them pontificate. Their one task is to see that baby survive and that mama thrive. You do not get in the way of a mama nurse protecting her sheep in labor. Pharaoh made the mistake of thinking they were just silly women holding pregnant mother’s hands. He missed their “Gronk” power. He was looking at the big guys in the field and the little bundles that could easily be tossed away. He did not factor in the call, the virtue, the strength of a couple inconsequential women just going to work every day.

I don’t remember the kings name in this story, but the two nurse’s names were Shiphrah and Puah.  Shiphrah means fair, bright one and Puah means brilliant glittering one, the splendid mouth.  All the verbs in this text are regular but when it comes to the king’s command it is super intense. He was off the charts crazy wanting to kill these children. (Perhaps it was as spiritual as it was mental). These women who are trained to follow protocol disobeyed their leader. It says they “feared God”. To fear means to be in awe of, to reverence and honor. They wanted to follow God more than they wanted to follow a leader who had gone off the rails with paranoia and jealousy. We are not sure if they were single or married but it hints at them being childless and serving the moms. The Bible says that they were summoned by the king to explain themselves. They used wisdom and God blessed them with children of their own. The king grew more agitated and instead of killing babies at birth he ordered them killed after they were born- drown them! . The king with all his authority and leadership got his eyes off building a kingdom to serve others and his jealousy blinded him. Drowning children would be his legacy. Instead of being blessed by the gifted ones God sent –he annihilated them. The midwives on the other hand did not have their eyes on the Pharaoh, the armies, the laws of the land. They were focused on honoring God – no matter what the cost. They were true players in the kingdom and they acknowledged the King of that kingdom.

This weekend as I watched the chiefs and the patriots play I was reminded  of this story. Of course, I cheered for the chiefs since I live  in KC.  They are “our team”. I wear red whenever possible and eat all the crazy “chiefs specials” our city has to offer. I’m a loyal home town fan. I rooted for them and watched every second of the game. However, there was a time in my life when I was in grad school and lived in Massachusetts. I gained something there that remains in my DNA. That “something” caused me to fear the Patriots win. My experience and memory gave me doubt of a sure win.  I kept thinking last week “these people (chiefs fans) don’t know the storm that is coming to our city.” I had watched the Super bowl smack down of 2002, Brady was new, and the Rams were favored to win. It was a Sunday night and the whole church watched it in the parsonage. I was surrounded by people with New England accents who were normally quiet type people. Not that night! The smell of fish was strong on the Cape outside and Clam chowder on the inside. They had braved many a Nor’easter which is a combination of snowstorm and hurricane. These were seasoned men.  

The Rams trained on turf.

It was an amazing game. I think it was one of my first football games.  I’m reminded of a shirt my hubby wears – “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. ” See, the people of New England are not just ordinary. They are THE PEOPLE of New England and they live not in a state but a COMMONWEALTH. They were strong people who broke away from a kingship that suppressed and oppressed them. They value every single person and their unique individual gifts. Because winters were cold, and babies were dying they became FIERCE. Death was part of their struggle and each person and what they brought to the table mattered. The people who founded Massachusetts refused to let their children forget that they had broken free from an oppressive kingdom, they refused to let the lives and deaths of their relatives go unnoticed. All the legal and government documents of Massachusetts are stamped “the COMMONWEALTH” of Massachusetts, you won’t see “state” anywhere. The Patriots are now in a state of – joy.

The chiefs sit in the state of misery this morning and I too grieve with them.  Unlike when the Royals won the championship, last night there was no shouting, cheering and celebrating in the streets. They fought an awesome game, they used every ounce of energy and will power they had. Tom Brady. during the almost physical snowstorm in KC this weekend declared he was the best quarterback ever! He boldly declared he could face ice and snow anywhere! He used the oldest trick in the book – get their eyes off the  mission and make them jealous of one impressive player. The Chiefs’ losing point was NOT the last coin toss. It was when they were faked out by Tom Brady, a master at his craft .  You can’t see the whole team when you get mesmerized by one Giant.  Gronkowksi, a resident of the commonwealth came up from the backside several times while the Chiefs and the kingdom were mean muggin Brady. All eyes were on Brady, so the commonwealth came along and did some impressive whoopin. The Chiefs were fighting and playing the illusion of Tom Brady, ….  however, the Patriots were

 

being the Commonwealth team of Massachusetts and together – THEY won.

 

This is why Boston is strong, this is why the Patriots continue to win. Keep whispering about stolen games, unfair this or that and mismanaged players  or calls and bla bla bla. THEY get the ball, THEY run it down the field and THEY win. Touchdown! The other stuff is just  whiny DISTRACTION.  They have learned how to be commonwealth strong and it shows. When every player does their part – the team wins. Mahomes is fresh and awesome but he is not the totality of the team. It takes ALL to make it happen.

The nurses?  They kept their focus on the game and honored God. They influenced from the quiet corners, in the dark while no one was watching. They pulled a Gronkowski.  They were fair, brilliant, shining players. What if they called in sick that day? What if they didn’t like being unsung heroes and changed occupations the month before? What if they got distracted and the mom or baby died? There would be no baby Moses. EVERY player counts because you never know what play the coach will call next or when the game will go into overtime. Only one thing we know for sure – it won’t last forever and every second counts.

Who do you honor most? What spot do you play? Are you aware of your potential for influence? Are you aware of how you can impact your team for good? What if you are the one making way for the next or last DELIVERER?

I read the end of the book. We know who wins. We have a coin toss also – will we choose The Lord to be our head and leader, directing all our plays?  Or will we focus on others and continue to be jealous of those with different gifts? We choose to lose when we hog the ball, sit on the sidelines and do our own thing? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. 

Lord, help us to fear and honor YOU. Help us influence who you want us to. Help us do the things you want us to do. Make us into the team You want us to be. A Deliverer is coming and while we wait we will do our part and

                                                       make way for HIM.

We will be careful to give You all the praise and all the glory, Amen!

RenaeRoche2019

Ps. Our little guy offered a visitor to our home who was fixing our internet a protein bar and water. I told him he had “Gronk power” and helped get the work done. It takes a team – let US play ball!

2019 is here, so much sooner than I thought it would appear! I was vacillating between blogging about Doctrine and going thru the Bible in a year. Since I am in a new position in life I decided to go with the Bible. Many of the people reading the blog are from different denominations so I went with that.

Question: Does God love you more if you have devotions before you go to work or read the Bible in a year? Being the “queen of legalism” (that’s a joke) I’m noticing things I never did before writing a book about Sabbath and grace. Father Abraham did not own a one year Bible and yet somehow he is still credited as being the Father of Faith. Somehow I don’t believe he had the “right translation” of the Bible or those fancy colored markers that make ones salvation just so much clearer. Our youngest son got some pretty awesome tabs for his Bible and before I could show him how to do it the “right” way he put them on the top. I was aghast. It was too late to say anything and like wearing white before Easter weekend it was just out of step. Upon further investigation, it is much easier to put them that way and I think he may have discovered an easier way to find those books. He’s excited to read now.

Some churches are fasting this January. Everyone who has read Jentzen Franklins book knows he is the most amazing writer when it comes to Fasting. Our denominational district pastor wisely suggested everyone fill their lives with scripture and giving to others – a true fast that warms ones heart. Who is right? Both are godly men and both ideas stir up the spiritual engines. Is the sacred January fast a sacred cow for those who “get it over with” once a year? Hmm? I won’t say that is the case for all but I think it can become that if that is the only time we focus on prayer or humility. We cling to what we think will make God happy with us. I’m picturing a large volcano and some guys with Hawaiian shirts chanting, we must sacrifice MORE. When will enough be enough? Enough devotions, enough reading, enough fasting, enough scripture printed clothing? NEVER. Maybe that is why pastors are reciting doctrine this time of year – we are justified by Faith. Not Bible memory (although that is really good), Bible gluttony (truly it leads to faith in spite of the excess) or Bible sharing (evangelism is rarely a bad thing). Where is the tension between doing all this wonderful spiritual exercise to make room in our hearts for a holy God vs. spiritual gymnastics that just shake the weight around? When I’m fasting the discipline is ultra spiritual and awesome. When I’m not I’m annoyed by others “success”. It strikes me as being ironic or funny that Christians compare their rituals in January but other rituals (Sabbath, communion, foot washing) are legalistic or unnecessary during other months. The glorious Bride is still precious to Jesus. Thank God!

I want to be a “good” Christian. I want to decrease so God will increase.  I want to hear amazing things from God’s word. There’s lots of “I want” in those sentences. Sigh. God wants to be close with us. God wants us to know Him. God wants to share secrets with us. Do we realize the many things that are “our” rituals vs. things that God is wanting or leading us to do or hear?

This year my family is asking God to help us stand in the gap for others to get breakthroughs and encounter God in new and fresh ways. Personally my word will be GRACE. Grace for the journey and especially Grace to get with God. I don’t want to live life as an American Christian. I want to live life as someone who is following Christ, living life according to HIM, rather than rituals, traditions or rules. We have banned the word “should” from our home and we are asking God to tell us His will instead.

Example: I wanted to start reading the Bible front to back. The first weeks have slipped away and now the schedule does not “fit” into any reading plan. Everyone else has a plan for me. I want God’s plan. I don’t want to randomly pick scriptures for my agenda. I decided to read every day as much as possible and blog what God lays on my heart for that week. You are welcome to join me and even write part of it.

This last week we were in Genesis. The oldest son read to us about Noah. He didn’t say much except, “Big Boat mom”. Being a former seminarian I guess I was expecting a theological treatise on covenant. I was so glad Noah was an old man when all this took place. If he was a teenager it would have went something like this: “God, how about a smaller boat? I hardly think we need all that space. If we did a few adjustments we could make that thing really hum, what do ya think? We’re laughing about that but God had a specific will and pattern for Noah’s life. If he had followed “culture” or the church of the hour Noah would have missed God’s will for his season. What if Noah’s wife had weighed in on his supposed legalism in building everyday? Noah, really no one else has one of those in their yards and the Jones’s are never going to invite us over if you keep hammering all day. The church leaders think you need to usher instead of building Sunday mornings and I can’t join the ladies group if my husband isn’t involved in the men’s stuff. Why should we make that crazy portable altar when there is a perfectly good one down at the church? Did you just feel that? It was like water, it landed on my head?

The other child in the family was reading about the universe being formed. God, put the stars in place. He not only numbers them but gave them a certain place to shine. He also knows then where it is dark or going to be dark. I secretly wonder if God’s promise to Abraham was more than just a multitude- but placing them in key places to bring light to the world. I had been reading: Phil. 2:15. It says “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons and daughters of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

While we all want to follow God, He has created us for certain tasks, in certain areas, for certain reasons unbeknownst to us – or other believers. In the beginning, God created. Divinely made – divinely placed – for a divine reason, only God may know or understand. I also wonder if the importance of resting and enjoying God is also to find out the how and why of shining in our season. Let’s lay down our rules, agendas, rituals (and fears) and direction this year and take up Gods heart. See Psalm 8:3 and Job 38:7 for inspiration for what that may look like.

Lord, Begin in us this year…  Your will, even for things like devotion, worship and praise. Begin in us this year… Your plan for what we build and how we build. Begin in us this year … Your plan for how we multiply and shine.  We’ll be careful to give you all the glory and all the praise.

If the stars were made to worship, …..so will I.

Shine on, RenaeRoche2019

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Hunky husband asked me out on a romantic date. I wore my best smelly stuff reserved for time with him, the kind he loves. I put on fancy lipstick from Lancome, made my hair shiny with as much product as it could hold and  put on my favorite maroon sweater. We were to meet at an Italian restaurant and I was ready. I counted the minutes and then drove through town, anticipating conversation and laughter, Italian food and great coffee. I walked through the dark restaurant looking for my beloved but he was nowhere in sight. The waiters also helped me look for him. As I sat there, he texted, delayed at a meeting. No worries, there is warm bread on the table and I trust he is on his way. Eventually he came and the waiters were watching for my response. I was delighted he was there and our time was well worth the wait. There is just no one else that would thrill my heart so much to be with. He made time in his busy schedule – for me.

This weekend – we anticipate being with each other and the Lord. Do we prepare? Do we put out our clothes, shoes? Does our heart beat with excitement as we long for what He will speak to us? Do we count the minutes until we gaze into His face? Do we prepare our minds, pushing aside worries and anxiety? What do we do in advance to show our desire for this all important meeting, setting aside all lesser loves?

Matthew 12

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?

 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 

ESV says “something” but in the Greek it says “estis” – someONE. Who or what could be greater than the temple or the priests (authorities) of that temple? This ONE is greater in rank, authority, prestige – He is the elder and superior one. The ONE higher than all the rules. What Jesus, you think you are above the law? Yup. You think that rules don’t apply to you buddy? Yup. Basically Jesus is stating that He is GOD. Snap! He just outranked the law and legalists. The creator, builder, high priest…  He decides what happens.

He is greater than   > > > religion and the religious

 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, (Greek “eleos”, to be compassionate and show kindness to the miserable and afflicted, helpful)

and not sacrifice,’ (victims, gift) you would not have condemned (judged) the guiltless (innocent). For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Who is the son of man? God’s kid, the one given all authority. A prince does not need permission from his friends to redirect the kingdom. That is who Jesus claimed to be which set him at odds with the temple and all who worked there. He declared that He was supreme, the chief, the master, the One who regulated and directed all traffic on the holy day. Many think 3 Chris Tomlin songs, offering, sermon and fellowship in the parking lot is the standard. Who determines that or defines “Sabbath” today?

From this point on – others will market, direct, suggest, legislate and formulate the “day”. Jesus clearly here points out that what happens during that day of rest and renewal – is up to Him. Yikes! Not denominations, not pastors or priests, not parents, not doctrines, not lexicons… how will we understand and know then? Give us a formula so we can avoid asking Him!

The word of God is our guide; the Spirit of God is our teacher, if we listen.

This is a pretty weighty matter for a simple blog but let me direct you to what thrills the heart of God – eleos, mercy. He is delighted to extend it. If you are miserable, you can apply. If you are afflicted, desperate, tormented, weary, you can apply. This Lord loves compassion and bringing help to those who need it. Is that mercy for us, the hurting, neighbors? Yes.

You can buy a Lutheran or Pentecostal guide to Sunday worship, a yoga guide to stretching, a Buddhist guide to mindfulness…   all may have some pointers but while you “legislate” the day you will get further from the One who wants to direct traffic- the Lord of the Sabbath. His thing? Mercy. His passion? Mercy. His desire? Mercy. Compassion, kindness and help are part of that. It’s His kryptonite. He’s the Lord of that day – then, now, tomorrow.

You have a date with the KING this weekend … an amazing, loving KING. He is Lord of that time, wait for it ….., celebrate it and keep it FRESH! 

    JESUS  is >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> than just church day.

So, my husband got a fish tank recently and added some new fish. We have one fish that has lived for several years. The old tank was getting really gross and everything inside had a grey cast to it. The fish seemed upset by this but I didn’t say anything, lest hubby might call me the “fish whisperer” or something. I did sense their dissatisfaction however. The glass was even getting murky brown.

One day he left the house with a vial of something. All day I prayed, interceded and cried out to God on hubby’s behalf. I was sure it was cancer or something worse. Maybe I should have been more intentional about our nutrition and diet? The man I loved was possibly too frightened by a bad report to tell me what he was facing.  When he came home he let me know that the people at the fish store said his water needed some different chemicals. I know we are on a budget, but seriously?  I thought “man, for something so important why are you trusting people at a fish store with your health? “ Ends up, he was having the fish water tested – who knew such things took place? Magically, the fish tank kept  changing.  It is such a good idea for me to stick to other things in our marriage because clearly, or in this case, dimly, this was not my area of expertise.

Eventually, new fish began to appear replacing the ones who died from either the brown water, the stressed out lady watching the water or possibly they went on to fish Heaven, no one really knows. In that mix , a snail was purchased. This snail was not your average snail. It was not taupe in color but a bright orange. Instead of sliding along through life she would show up on the bottom of the tank, the side, the top –all in one day. One morning, I woke up and everything looked bright and brilliant inside the tank. The rocks were tan instead of black and the foliage was green. I thought I was more chipper, possibly had more coffee that morning, but after several days of estimating this, I realized this exceptional snail had sucked up the mold, garbage and toxins throughout the tank. It looked like someone had scrubbed the castle and the submarine which was pretty amazing. Hubby was given a gift of beauty that could also clean. Hmmm?  Nice combo.  Glad for snail’s example.

Miss snails destiny – garbage sucking. Pure unsophisticated garbage removal. Who would want that for a job or career? She did not pass on the garbage or slide it elsewhere, she sucked it up and removed it. Impressive. Everything in her path became brighter – not because she painted, glossed or polished, she merely removed the trash in her way. The results were gorgeous and displayed brilliant color. She was doing exactly what she was created to do. I’m not a huge fan of fish (too many bad flushing experiences as a child perhaps) but this snail has caught my attention. She makes the tank, our home, the world – a better place. I like her better than some people I know because of this. She removes stains and  keeps moving forward. She shines dark places.

Hubby and I won the “ugly sweater” contest at church last week. He wore a tree on his head and I wore a sweaty sweatshirt and grumped “bah humbug” in an ugly manner. It was fun to be ugly for an hour but I missed  smiling and being positive for Jesus. Do I let others “garbage” affect me or move on to polish?  Our snail does not get snagged by garbage, it actually propels her forward. Sadly, I’m not sure I am as spiritually mature as the snail in my fish tank. Sometimes I linger and grumble about the dirt and garbage, instead of just moving on.  1 John 3:8 says for this purpose was the Son of God manifest – to destroy the works of the evil one. Wherever Jesus went, he made things better and BRIGHTER. Bringing beauty is a choice, not for the fast or furious but the faithful.

Keep going today – whatever your pace, shining and knowing God, your creator watches and sees it all.

Renae Roche 2018

January 1       Complete, Carry Out, Fill

The web counter was added mid-December. The counts were  17,251 on the 29th of December.  I’m glad you stopped by and truly appreciate your visit. Would you be willing to comment or add your questions/ thoughts?  See the “contact us” form at the end of the blog. Thanks!  Renae

Matthew 5  ESV

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish (destroy, overthrow or dissolve) the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish (destroy, overthrow or dissolve) them but to fulfill them.

Fulfill = Complete, carry out to the full, fill

 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, (does not say resurrection here)

Not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will NEVER enter the kingdom of heaven.’

Ouch! I want to go to Heaven. I know that all of my righteousness is but filthy rags. My righteousness must be in the person of Christ or I remain without hope. So how does a limited supply – that which is found in Christ, exceed a set limit? Is it positional meaning it comes from Christ or can it be impacted by conditions such as waiting in His presence?

So, these words do not square with “hippie Jesus” that goes for anything and everything under the guise of grace. He sounds, in fact, pretty serious here.  It is a direct quote from Christ himself, leaving none to theologically outrank Him. It almost elevates the wound tight lives of the scribes and Pharisees but considering the whole context of scripture — that can’t be right either. How do we reconcile these words with contemporary society? Those not believing in the apostolic age where gifts are poured out after the resurrection will say this ceased – the need for filling. Pentecostals will shout out that we all need to be filled by the Holy Spirit. That is Biblical and experientially I’ve seen that take place. But how does the law get filled, completed with each commandment? This is a quandary, a fascinating subject, worthy of study.

Greek students will recognize the importance of the iota and dot. They are necessary and vital.

Mama’s and Papa’s may see the words “called great in the Kingdom” and desire that for their children. Many secretly desire that for themselves and would that be misguided or perfect?

What does this mind twister mean and how does it fit in with the very Jewish book of Matthew? How does it square with the content of scripture as a whole? The early church asked these same questions because the answers mattered to them. Some worshipped, others ran for their lives to avoid martyrdom. We see the words in red and know that they carry meaning for our lives. How do we fully obey Christ in this generation?

Comments? Thoughts? Challenges?

I pray this year will be filled with Scripture and Spirit = a sure plan for success. (See Psalm and Proverbs 1). My hope is this year our hearts and minds will be challenged to know God more and follow Him with all that is within US. I love Ravi Zacharias’ ministry name: “Let my people think”. Let us serve God with our whole bodies, our hearts, our strength, our souls and our minds in 2018.  Renae

 

May you always be:

A MIND though which Christ thinks;

A HEART through which Christ loves;

A VOICE through which Christ speaks;

A HAND through which Christ helps.     (Author unknown)

 

 

A scream is heard in the dark, starry night.

Why is that woman screaming? “She’s in labor.” “I am so glad you put those people out with the animals, boundaries are important.” “Weren’t they evasive about where they were from and why they were here?” “It makes them look suspicious.” “They clearly should not have been put with the other guests; they smelled like they had been traveling for months.” “We certainly don’t want those foreigners in our city to interrupt our holiday, it’s not like they are family nor have any family here.” “Now we’ll have to help out their kid too.”

All the relatives and friends were in a different city. The noise of the crowded inn was shut out as they closed the door where the animals were kept. They would be safe her from the cold and curious visitors. Soon, they would register and declare to the world they were a couple, a new family. Mary knew she was to marry and trust this man Jacob but when she saw hints of doubt in his face she may have worried about her future. In this time of travail, would he be strong enough to help her?

We do not know if the same God who serenaded the shepherds, the same God who gave Elizabeth hope, the same God who told her of Jesus would be questioned by this couple in this hour. Were the dreams enough to encourage them? Were there majestic Heavenly violins? When the supernatural invaded that cattle stall, were there prophecies, utterances of praise or just tenacious faith clinging onto hope in the silent, cold, darkness?

In Matthew,  Jacob is tasked with naming the baby Jesus and there is the hope that he will save the people from their sins. This baby will touch so many people in a way that connects them to God that they will call him Emmanuel- God dwelling with us. His presence would be different than other children. The Jewish baby comes from a long line of praying, believing and hoping saints and sinners. But this day, there is no silver spoon in his mouth or designer blankets. Mary knew this baby’s DNA would be different than anyone ever expected.

In the gospel of Mark, he tells us right off the bat that this baby is not just Mary’s but belongs to God.  How do you attach to a baby that is only truly partly yours?  11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Rather than focusing on that candlelit manger scene, Mark gives us a glimpse into the Heavenly family. He illuminates for us the unity of the Trinity – Father, son and Holy Spirit all together but doing different tasks. His identity is not based on what Jacob names him but on who his heavenly father says that he is.

Luke lets us know this was Mary’s first son; God could have selected a seasoned mama with ten kids if He was just looking for a surrogate with experience. God had selected someone He trusted, someone who had His attention and favor. He wanted the mommy of His son to be kind, compassionate and someone who magnified the Lord.  She did not reject this baby but wrapped him up in cloths. Was this to make him comfortable, to protect Him from all the germs in that dirty setting or to get him ready for another journey? When she laid him down in that manger was it with joy or fear that he just might end up being God’s son and the peoples’ savior? Was that act of simple release (laying him down in the manger instead of holding Him) Mary’s understanding that this child would be given for the sins of the world? If this birth process did not kill her, certainly His death process might. Mary knew because Mary had been foretold and forewarned, she agreed anyway.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “ God has brought the Jewish baby and His family to be born in a Jewish town. In spite of the father, angel and community giving Him a name- Mary knew that this little child would never fully be hers.   

John, the best friend of this baby knew that what His family spoke of Jesus may be accurate but it was not complete. He starts out his verbal photo album by letting us know that this baby was God’s Word, the actual creator of the universe, He was the total gift of life and light. He could see things come full circle and knew that the existence of this saving Messiah was for a purpose, a reason that we along with the saints from generations ago and for all those after could become the children of God – spiritual siblings. The Son desired brothers and sisters, those who reflected the image of His father.  This baby was not just a boy, He was the son of God – fully God and fully man. If that were not enough, he also tells everyone His character – He is FULL of grace and truth. Because Mary knew John, she did know that this baby boy would not become the great I am – He was born the great I am. Scripture records that Mary knew, and her response was “be it unto me according to Your Word.”

Those at the Inn did not receive Him. His family would not receive Him. His city could not receive Him. His nation fought against Him but when the God who sent Him received Him into glory, that promised Holy Spirit was poured out and the promise released that we could become the children of God. Matthew 10:40 tells us, ““Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” Those who accept this baby’s  work – what He did on the cross as payment for our sin, whoever acknowledges that He is Lord and confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, will be saved.” The rejected one opens the door to the Heavenly family, where no one is ever abandoned, rejected or alone. What a gift! What a Presence, what a King.

Oh come, let us adore Him, not just as a baby but as King and Lord….

Merry Christmas.

Renae Roche 2017

 

Luke 2 — We read that because of us a child is born. We were the reason for the season. What? Why would you say that? All the coffee cups and posters say Jesus is the reason for the season? Yes but John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that (or for this reason) that ALL who believe in Him shall have eternal life. Luke 19:10 tells us that He came to seek and save…  First a Son, then a Savior.

Ponder this in your heart today . . . .

He didn’t come to a mosque, a synagogue or a temple. He came to a holiday party of a much different kind. The high and lofty, the low and hungry would all have equal access ….and irritate sociologists till the end of time.

Bound in cloths, little Houdini did not share His eternal secret of escape. For He was busy resting, enjoying quality time with family, He wore no superhero cape. Called “The Beginning and the End,” this plan was in the middle, to save those from the tyranny of the urgent, God chose a babe to reveal this riddle. His greatest ministry then was REST as His little blankets would unfold. God once again gathering the FAMILY, the greatest reconciliation ever told.

The gathering of the faithful, the snuggling against the breast, all had ceased from their labors for this was the season to meet their long awaited REST. Crying, cooing, burping, great works they watched on their knees, little did Mary and Joseph know this one would reach the least of these. While many may seek miracles, hear sermons, or have the cross on their mind, God restarted their second chance so the prodigals’ long lost hope,… they would now be able to find.

When we gather at the manger, where simple animals share their food, could it be that God still calls us to multiply, be fruitful and know that He alone is good? Is the real reason for Christmas looking in our Saviors face, seeing things His way, through His Word and understanding everlasting grace? While many seek out Facebook of such a different kind, is the real reason for the season knowing we were always before God’s face and on God’s heart and in His mind?

“First things first” the marriage counselors say, yet do any of the evangelists proclaim this was one of Jesus’ greatest days? The day he was still, loving and being adored, could this be the greatest accomplishment of our Savior, Redeemer and Lord? To calmly trust in His father, to posture Himself under the omniscience of His watchful eye, was this His first, obedient act even before His time to die?

Creation made, then suspended we waited for second Adam in swaddling cloths to arrive, could this be the promise of salvation, to save and sustain one such as I? To be loved and to be –loving, is the first act of our infant King, to bring a world together just to worship God and rest was a small, yet profoundly amazing thing.

Pausing to be with family and neighbors, to see a smile, to hear a cry; may not seem like the “big stuff” until we remember the original reason why. Jesus came to be with us, not just for show or ministry, He came to give us rest, heal us of our loneliness, and lovingly reconnect the ultimate, sacred Family Tree.       

 

                                           Renae Roche ©2015.