For some reason the alarm did not go off this morning and the dark sky prevented the light from shining thru the window to wake us. Eventually we got ready and I walked the boys to the bus stop in the pouring rain. “Mama did we forget to change our clocks after daylight savings time?” “No, it’s just a stormy day.” My heart was with the kids but my “will” was back under the warm cozy sheets. Some days, not even coffee makes a difference. Last week the shorts came out, this day the gloves and scarves were put back on. Huddling children cowered under umbrellas and parents, as we all waited for the school bus to come splashing down the road. One by one the students entered and slowly the parents went back to their homes and cars. I walked down the broken, muddy sidewalk avoiding the puddles. The big pine trees surrounding our little neighborhood were dripping with fresh spring rain and the clouds in the sky looked ominous. As I went to cross the street I heard a familiar sound, a robin. Silly bird, robins don’t sing in rainstorms. She continued. I guess robins sheltered under a big dry branch do. It was such a sweet surprise and beautiful tune on such a dark, dreary day.

 I will sing this day, in spite of the rain.

That’s what robins do, that is what they were created to do. Not sell shoes, throw footballs, organize business meetings, they were created to sing and there Ms. Robin sat, doing her thing, come rain or shine. Maybe her “will” this morning was to sleep in also. Maybe her will was to live in Arizona. I’m so glad she sang her tune in my neighborhood.

As we progress to the beginning of April there is much spin – Lent is here, churches are advertising “resurrection Sunday”, some are having big Easter productions and egg hunts, some are explaining Passover, others are conducting Seders and then there are always groups talking about how some or all of these things are wholly spiritual, cultic or pagan. We humans have sure made a mess out of something so beautiful.

What did Jesus say to His disciples after He rose from the dead?

Three days, three words. We know he was fully man right there. Few words. A lifetime of fulfilment and prophecy and no one would have blamed him for preaching up a whopper of a sermon but he was brief, concise and summarized the whole event. Three days, three words. What a life message and standard for all the other events and shenanigans we call “church”. Sola Eirene. It’s so simple, but required a lifetime and eternity to display.

As we follow the journey to the cross and ramp up for Easter Services, there is one verse that continues to grip my heart. It’s couched in a paragraph in Luke 23:” For the third time he (Pilate) spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and


surrendered Jesus to their  will.


26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.      Note that they now lead Jesus instead of following Him. 

If you have any Campus Crusade for Christ friends you have heard the question, “who sits on the throne of your heart?” I’m grateful to Bill Bright and his team for ministering that into me during my first year at a secular college.  It changed the direction of my life. The analogy is meant to discover if it is God leading you or your own desires. Maybe you have read the book, Not My Will. TV preachers call us to exchange our tattered lives to serve God, doing whatever He calls us to do. That’s the Christian culture. We know post -cross that we are supposed to live in obedience, to surrender to the will of Jesus. But like Pastor Cho, do we pray and obey or talk ourselves out of anything that calls us out of our comfort zones?

Pilate and the crowd could not access YouTube; they could not do a google search to get info on this guy called the King of the Jews. They did the opposite of what was expected. Who in their right mind would choose a criminal over an innocent man, unless  they really hated him? Did they not see the dark clouds forming, then the sun refusing to shine? Pilate acquiesced to the majority; the majority crushed the will of Jesus, to their demands, by force. With fists in the air they demanded “their way” and for a moment in history, “self, rights and majority” seemed to win.

“I will have my own way, I will decide what’s best for my life, I will determine my own destiny” and then they overrode the will of the One, purposed to be the King. This crowd was not so horrible– we hear these things in our own heads, we see these furrowed brows in our own mirrors as we intentionally, recklessly and even unconsciously choose to do our own thing, proceed in our own will.  But with each decision do we realize that we too are demanding Jesus surrenders to our will? Isn’t knowing the full story and still proceeding in our own way more horrible than those who walked in ignorance?

A young preacher, wrestling with his career path, chose a song “All to Jesus, I Surrender ” to sing as a meditation. He later told others that it helped him daily choose God’s will instead of his own. The song was written by a painter (Judson W. Van DeVenter) who had reluctantly laid down his passion for art to take up the call to be an evangelist. JW wanted to draw, God wanted him to preach. His song was his prayer, expressing the struggle to choose God’s will over his own. JW’s meetings did not reach as many as he probably hoped, nor did his career make him famous as his art might have, but the song he wrote regarding that critical decision, still reaches across the nations today. It’s a song that calls believers to lay down their will, hopes and dreams to carry the cross of Jesus, not out of obligation – but love and devotion. The young preacher faithfully sang JWs song in his personal devotions, “fill me with thy love and power” and then… in auditoriums all over the world. JW’s small tune brought a ray of sunshine, enough for Billy and Cliff and Margaret, to see through their storms and continue laying down their will, to pick up the Lord’s. The tune gave them courage as they surrendered their lives and wills to the Master. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “One act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons.” I think that obedience is a sermon that God preaches through our lives that displays His character.

Ravi Zacharias says, ” All it takes is for one man, one woman to step on the scene and change the course of history.”


Fill us Lord with Your love and power. We surrender to Your will.


“Surrendered lives are available for God to speak through , accessible for miracles to  work through and aligned to usher in the King.” R.Roche  Fill us Lord with Your love and power.

I will ____today     God, what will YOU have me do to today, tomorrow, with my life? Help me surrender to Your will and hear Your call. Your will is always BEST and Your peace is how I accomplish YOUR will. Fill us Lord with Your love and power.

The song that has been my meditation this season is Dave Pedde’s “Come Now, Your Kingdom. ” It helps me as I try to release “my” will and step into HIS. I pray it blesses you as you surrender to the ONE worth following.

Peace To you,    Sola Eirene

RenaeRoche 2018

Two men walk in a bar, they share a drink, they talk through their day and their conflict. Yea, right. In the Wild West sometimes you would hear of a shootout and who had the fastest draw. Occasionally innocent bystanders would get gunned down and shot glasses and dreams would be shattered.

Modern day- Two madmen meet to discuss peace (Random example). Their nations are volatile and if they can get along they can avoid a nuclear holocaust. The odds are high that there will be casualties because advanced weapons are being used. If either one was perceived to be reasonable –the other one may back down, so bravado and bluster are employed to harness fear. Those behind the factions lean in to see who will “break” and who will triumph. Speculation heightens as to who really is a madman and who is trained to call the others bluff. Those who understand the pressure will see that both are capable of human atrocity and both have a look deep in their eyes signaling past pain, current turmoil and future anger just waiting to be unleashed. Who really knows their capability?

peace treaty, “is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties.”[1] You’ve heard the expression it takes two to tango. 

Years ago I had the joy of meeting a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was one of the freest men I’ve ever met. Handsome in appearance, his true character radiated beyond that as he explained living a life with purpose. There was an inner fire that drew his listeners closer as he shared exploits that could only have taken place with a divine hand on his life. He had successfully sat down with Jews, Muslims and Christians to navigate peace in a war torn area. While discussing the intricacies of negotiation with our team afterwards I reflected on how he had brought so many factions to the table – friendship and food. A warm heart and good cup of coffee goes a long way in bringing people together. 

The news this week tells stories of world leaders bargaining with resources, weapons and even lives. Some were poisoned as they represented their governments. Stateside we hear of battles over citizenship and walls being erected to keep “bad guys out”. What about the bad guys left in?

In Missouri last week a young man decided to strip down naked, steal a yellow ATV and go joyriding. He flew down the wrong side of the freeway, eluding police who could not follow him. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out drugs were a huge part of the war he signed up for voluntarily. My husband, a former submarine sailor, jokingly tells me that the letters in NAVY stand for “Never Again Volunteer Yourself. Two different worlds. Two different purposes for the risk involved. 

Who are the madmen? Who are the madwomen in our society? Hostile parties, coming together looking for relief, treaties, agreement, armistice. It is so much easier to put all our anger, hatred into a bucket of North Korea, Russia or the drug dealer down the highway than to realize….I am the madman.  We collectively are the madmen.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Romans 8:7

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10

In order for there to be a peace treaty, it necessitates that both parties are hostile to one another. Christ comes between us and a merciful, loving God. There is no yin/yang in that equation. God is hostile to sin but loving towards us. One sided. Pretty amazing covenant! He gives all the benefits and we take all the provision.  Is G-d a Sucker? No, He’s benevolent, compassionate, and merciful. May we never lose the wonder of that. We will — if we continue to believe that “others” are madmen and we are born free.

Colossians One (NIV) tells us, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 

                                                                 if you continue in your faith,

established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.“

While some women are marching declaring rights, injustices and freedoms, other women are struggling to watch children, feed husbands and volunteer at schools. A question has stirred my heart. Why do we fight to look “xyz –good, advocate, confident”?  Both want other women to “believe in themselves”. Both groups would probably tell us they are working hard to make life better for –others. Sheer madness or sweet sacrificial service? In the midst of everyone telling us how wonderful/ powerful we are and the focus on having perfect bodies I wonder if we could pause for just a millisecond…

Theologically, we too are madmen.

How long since we “identified” with our true roots? Hostile to God. You won’t see that on a poster. Unless we remember that, we will never realize the deep, pervasive need for a Savior, a maker of peace. Eradicate the need, eradicate the solution. Without the pain of the cross, there is no crown. Without the balm of the crucified, there is no blessing. Without the blood stained Jewish Messiah, there is no new creation Christian. Talk about cutting out the middle man! He offers us a

Peace Covenant

because there’s only one hostile party and that is me, you. The difference is He offers all the benefits and reaches out across the aisle. The difference is –there is no gleam of cruelty in His eye or plan of hate in His heart. He offers us the glorious exchange – our hostility for His peace.

Who’s the Madman? Answer that question and you are on the right highway to real peace.  When is it the right time to be reconciled through Christ to God?  

Two rustlers _________ walk in a church (fill in the blank with bikers, minorities, elderly, women, teens, white guy, etc.). They share communion and talk about their day. The sun shines in the Calm East and hope for the future is apparent. They rejoice in their fellowship and things are restored.

Rejoicing that there is a solution, a hope, REAL Peace…..



[1] Wikkipedia (public opinion source) 

Gen. 3:19  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.

I did not watch many of the games this year, nor did I participate in the Olympics. It wasn’t that I did not want to win gold in the skating or skiing competitions, I was just pretty busy and missed ALL the training meetings.  Lol. My limbs were not made for those racing down a hill at 95 mph! No one was angry with me for not getting the bronze.  My tasks were much different. This weekend I did make some awesome meals for my family and on really awful dessert. Today, I will  vacuum, make beds and oh yes, dust. Dust and praise. There will be no gold medals handed out for those things. Not glorious, but necessary.

Psalm 103:14 says that God knows our frame, He remembers we are dust. That’s a relief! Dust in God’s hands is much different than dust in mine.

In the midst of common, ordinary days, sometimes one breaks free from the pack and runs ahead. This month we witnessed the legacy of such a man when “Billy” stepped into glory. A giant in the faith did not pass on his baton or mantle–  because he had been passing it on all along to faithful men and women throughout his whole life at every crusade, every stop. He and his partners trained many in evangelism and reached thousands for Christ. All who speculated on his final resting place commented on his arrival in  Heaven. His children wisely kept us all “grounded” as they reiterated that nothing could gain him access into the Kingdom except for one thing – the blood of Christ. They furthered that beautiful picture of redemption by highlighting the story of the man called “Grasshopper”, who crafted his coffin – a murderer, locked in prison, yet gloriously used by his creator to encase this  beloved preacher as he went back to his maker. In that very act we saw yet another picture of redemption and how grace transforms that which the world rejects. The Grahams had seen grace in that prison years ago. Imagine being the one who displays to the preacher of Grace, what Mercy looks like  in confinement!  His life impacted the one who impacted the nations. Pretty amazing.  I noticed that the media who usually hound “extras” like Joe the plumber, did not seem to want to hear what the coffin carpenter man had to say. TMZ didn’t track him down for the scoop either.

My heart has been singing a song : “Mercy” by Matt Redman. The lyrics are “I will kneel in the dust at the foot of the cross, where mercy paid for me. It’s that cross that changed Billy Grahams story, no longer just a mortal returning to dust, he was transformed  into a new creation, a new man and life not only changed for him but all those he impacted. Mercy changed his destiny from regular man to renewed man. It was a transformation from within. The doors of eternity swung open and while his shell remains here on earth, his spirit lives on forever.

I thought back to the many ways his life, crusades, family and preaching had impacted me.  One time in a sermon he stated, “God is preparing us here –for our work there.” While people are applauding his work earth side, he just began his work in eternity. He’s just starting out. The new kid on the block. That puts a high premium on the training here. The leader of a seminary, now a student. What was he being prepared for? What was the purpose of his training for eternity? What great things await the believer on the other side? What peoples, nations and generations will need the gifts/skills in my life, your life?  Will we faithfully use them or squander them away? One human, formed from dust begat a birth line that would eventually help produce the son of God. I wonder if anyone ever told Mary she would be an empowered  woman changing the world? How did she succeed without John Maxwell books? One man, transformed by the power of that cross, impacted nations, as he submitted his will and life to God (Billy).  Although Dr.Graham will be missed, I seriously doubt he is in heaven receiving accolades and praise as the Facebook posts suggest. If true to form, I believe he is worshiping at the feet of the One he knew and loved so much. His spiritual diet would not allow anything else.

We read in Luke 15 this week that the Pharisees  were murmuring about Jesus – but He continued to preach and heal. The word used there is diagoggyzo (pronounced dia gong good zo) meaning they muttered throughout the whole crowd. The religious did not support Him, fan His flame or even want him to succeed. He kept going. These believers just had a “check” about this homegrown Messiah and made sure others knew he was definitely not one of them. After all, He came from a broken family and was being raised by a stepfather. He was single which raised red flags and refused to join in course jesting. The only “thumbs up” He seemed to get was from His daddy at His baptism. How many times have we committed to preaching that gospel from the man of Nazareth that bore our sin?  Galatians would ask us tonight, “who hindered  you that you did not obey the truth?”

Billy Graham kept going. Then during one season when the “religious” around him were mocking Pentecostals, he broke with protocol and offered them a hand of fellowship much to the surprise of all those around him. It could have crippled his ministry. It was not a popular move but it was a holy one. He also did that when some bigoted religious folks segregated the whites and various minorities at one of his early crusades.  Billy Graham chose to follow after the same Jesus that he preached about and– included everyone, literally removing the barriers that separated them. It could have blacklisted him – but he chose to follow the example of Christ who died for sinners everywhere. “No place is to dark or deep where the cross cannot reach.”

This was the greatness that defined this precious saint, not the crowds, the messages or fame. His every breath was about and for Jesus. His life pointed to Him.

I remember being in seminary and sharing the gospel with people along my path. The more I shared the more criticism I received. It was painful to just “keep going”. One of brother Grahams friends came alongside me and spoke into my life. He told me stories of this spiritual giant and what he did to encourage him to keep going when things seemed very bleak. While some may  look at the building dedicated to this special friends memory, I remember the encouragement  and the victories because of it.  My flesh wants to share  about that exiting time of training but if I’ve learned anything from walking with or near “larger than life”  people, is that it was JESUS that made them great and to talk about HIM, not letting earthly stories eclipse HIS greatness.

Today as I clean, praise and dust my house, I will remember that all humans have an expiration date. I will do with excellence that which is committed to my care.  I will keep going even if only by faith. It’s God’s touch on humans that makes them divine masterpieces. I will reject the notion that we return to dust with no other future hope such as Heaven. I will remember that through salvation we can be something much more – renewed and adopted.  I will ask that God change me by His mercy. I will pray that everything He wants to train me in and for will be accomplished in my lifetime. I will ask Christ to give me strength to press in and on when others may be muttering around me.  I will ask that HE define me rather than my fears or others critiques. I will ask Him to deeply cleanse my heart.  I will look forward to stepping into eternity on that final day, not to sit around on chairs of gold, eating grapes from lavish vines but to continue to proclaim this mighty One who transforms, heals and saves.

…. And with crocodile tears, I will remember Billy Graham — who worked this message of Jesus throughout the streets, towns, cities and nations of the world, until his final breath. Thank you Lord for this man of God, his family, friends and workers. Thank you that he pointed us to YOU instead of his ministry or himself. Thank you also for the leaders in my life today who also point me toward YOU.

Rest in Peace , Billy and Ruth Graham. Rest in His peace friends of Jesus.

Renae Roche 2019      

Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered.  Luke 11

Over the weekend we sorted our boy’s clothes. Too big, too small, wait for next year, give away. We were thrilled to find new outfits that had been stored away waiting for just the right time. I told my kids that on Sundays we need to dress up because the King is coming and just like we want to look good for any special guest we need to be ready for the Lord. I waxed on eloquently about washing ears, faces, elbows and standing at attention for the Lord. We have been studying royalty and the Kingdom of God. In days past I had attended a church where the ladies dressed up all fancy on Sundays and the ushers wore black and white with white gloves. They were ready and everyone was in place. I appreciated their respect for the things of God. I was hoping to pass on that reverence . My kids were having none of it . They were excited to wear the new jeans and t-shirts we had discovered. It did not go as well as I had hoped it would.

While getting ready myself I reflected on the disciple John who leaned on Jesus’ chest. Did he wear starched and fancy clothes? Scripture doesn’t say. Would Jesus rebuke him – ” young man do you dare approach me in 100% cotton? ” No. I don’t remember anyone saluting Jesus or speaking to a dress code. (The angry men at the foot of the cross seemed to greatly care about his garments). The Pharisees and priests would have had liturgical requirements for their togas . I do remember Jesus welcoming a man through a thatched roof that probably was full of wood fragments. I do remember him helping a blind man probably smelly from sitting around on a mat all day. Oozing leprous guy  with a wet robe, probably freaked everyone out. Lazarus’ threads were coming unraveled and that didn’t seem to stop Jesus one bit from helping him. I doubt the tears ( Jesus wept) were from his color or season choice. 

The favored disciple broke with all fashion choices donning a hairy camel garment and leather belt (John the Baptist). This was leisure wear at its best, wash and dry capable. To be biblical today shouldn’t Baptists follow suit?

Only once do we hear anything about Messiahs clothing choice – on the mount of transfiguration when his clothes were said to be “glistening white” . However,  that was something the Father did for him. He covered and dressed him up real nice.

(No, this is not a Tide ad, although Tide God made him sparkling white).  

I don’t know what my kids will learn from us along the way but I think I would rather have them know Jesus as friend and brother rather than just royal, regal king. While they are royalty because of their relationship with the King of all kings, they are first and foremost family and friends with Jesus.  Being upset just didn’t seem like a good way to prepare our hearts for the service. They were thrilled to put on jeans to go to church and reminded me of all the people who are awesome there, that also wear jeans.  I couldn’t disagree but my heart was homesick for my brothers in suits and sisters in hats who literally brought Heaven down as they summoned a glorious King. I desperately want my kids to experience that type of joy. I just had to add (in a voice that sounded very similar to June Cleavers– “as long as they are clean, now wash your faces.”  

Job said he was clothed with “worms and clods of dust” (a sure fashion violation) and Isaiah said he was clothed with garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. What do we do with the dress code of the naked prophet lying on his side? That’s got to be a bugger to explain for Sunday school teachers everywhere! I’d much rather discuss that , than what the Kardashians are wearing on the runway.  I get lost in all the  Diva talks but next weekend I’m going to tell my kids to “put on Christ.”

So, what is the KEY to knowledge? The lawyers got rebuked for blocking it.  Was it Jesus that they blocked so no one could find their way in? Was the Door also the key as the Way is also the way In? Do we lay all things aside as we love the lord with our whole hearts, strength, minds and neighbors? Somewhere between respect and familiarity is a relationship with God. Somewhere between reverence and trust is a life lived in honor of the King.  If we trade out traditions for following Jesus we will block ourselves and others. If we ignore all rituals we may end up creating our own that point away from eternity. Ouch. If God is setting up clues for pointing to the awaited Messiah, I would also hate to make up stuff that dresses up my imagination. How many things that are external do we engage in thinking it makes us holy? What practices are just preference?  What or better who did God leave us to make sense of all this?

Pondering this today and wanting to bring that KEY to those opening the door… Or at the very least, not block the way in. 

Does the King want us to come just as we are? Boogers, pimples, wretchedness, even sin? Once we come isn’t He fully capable of welcoming and loving? Is He hindered by anything we notice in others? I’m scarred, weary, broken…  Jesus, can I still come?  Just as I am? Because thy promise, I believe, oh Lamb of God, I come.  Just as I am – with robes, blemishes and yes, sometimes even in  jeans.

Your thoughts?   This blog is for YOU. I’m hoping for those with opposing opinions to join the discussion so we can all grow and learn together. What are you seeing/feeling that we are missing? The village needs some insight – comment on!  

Renae Roche 2018


 This past week the glorious American flags all over town were flown at half mast, visual reminders that sometimes in life –horrific things happen. It reminded me of the solidarity –we all share with pain and grief –as a nation, when one family or city suffers. Our lives continue to move forward while 17 beautiful lives abruptly stopped, without warning. The things they struggled with – missing homework, toothpaste tubes that were crusty, jeans that were wrinkled, arguments over breakfast left undone , will no longer be an issue. One person directed traffic and now precious lives, once filled with potential are – gone.

Another news post told me of a respected college minister who lost his wife a year ago. He had been a non-drinker until this event. The reporter did not mention their years of service or sacrificial living but they did mention that an innocent young woman is now dead after a suspected DUI and car wreck. It is thought that the widowed minister is to blame.  No one has called for all cars to be banned yet. No one has suggested that everyone stop drinking or that a political party is to be blamed in that incident. The college where he taught was mentioned and I would guess that multiple students will feel this loss. 

We also got a phone call that a seasoned leader in another nation had grief, deep grief over his career and family. He chose suicide. No one has called for a ban of rope. No one has gone on the View in that case to suggest a particular political party is to blame.  There must need to be a lot of money at stake or possibly more than one victim to get national coverage, although in that case I would contend that an entire nation became a victim. Multiple leaders will feel this loss. All may feel helpless.

I add to this list of tragedy’s a man that I cared about and respected has left his family and church ministry, deciding to go in the opposite direction. His longing for connection has caused him to fracture those who love him as he pursues truth “somewhere out there.” The ripple effect will cause doubt and discouragement but life will go on. His family and relatives will deeply feel the loss but there will be no vigil. Those he led will possibly question everything he taught them. No one will call the president or investigate what happened even though multiple people were “injured”.

In the darkness of all these events (school, college, nation, church and family) this week I was reminded of my Pentateuch professor Dr. Meyers. His class was at 8 am which always seemed so very ungodly to me. I often wondered if God really was awake that early. Now I wish I could have the luxury of those days back! The things I learned in that class have fortified me for many years. My mind wanders back to those  lessons in times like these. I want to share that today in hopes that someone struggling will be strengthened. This is one of the quotes from that class:

The same sun that hardens clay, melts butter.

The same sun that hardens clay, melts butter. Same sun.

While I will never be as eloquent as our professor I want to share his timely words. He contrasted the hardness of Pharoah’s heart and the dedication of Moses. I also remember him preaching on the life of Joseph. Joseph had been ridiculed, mocked and his brothers even tried to murder him. He was sold out, ignored and forgotten. Joseph chose life. He was despised, overlooked and marginalized. Joseph chose life. No one cared about his loneliness, past or loss. He chose life. He had to get his love and support from foreigners in a foreign land. Joseph at every turn, chose life.

No one would have blamed Joseph (or at least those who knew his story and background) for going all Schwarzenegger on the folks. No one would have questioned if he went rogue as he had plenty of solid reasons to get revenge or at least throw out some snide comments once in a while. He had a lifetime to plot and plan. If he had gone ballistic when his brothers came it would have made for great television. But then, we would not have his example. The example of vindication and the sweetness of God using him to fortify a nation. We would not be able to see how God blesses those who leave the choice up to Him. We would not see the freedom of forgiveness or the power that comes from pain surrendered. That is quite the story! It’s one that kept the Israelites’ alive for centuries. It demonstrates the Deliverer.

God – taking a families mess and turning it into a message. God – taking an individual’s test and turning it into a testimony. God- re-purposing ones wounds and forming them into wisdom – wisdom for generations. Wow- God takes our crud, puts it in His crucible through the power of the cross and gives US a crown? What an exchange.

The same sun that melts butter, hardens clay. We choose how that sun affects us.

Death is vicious, it’s painful and cruel. It causes even the best to crumble. Grief is just twisted and sick and leaves an indelible mark on our souls. Left unresolved it blossoms into a poisonous orchard. Yielded to the Lord it springs forth the promises of Heaven.


How do we ban pain or bitterness? 


Only a savior can remove that scourge, only a sanctifier  can lift  that stain.

In college, a friend recounted the story of a man that lost his whole family in a car wreck. The EMT couldn’t find the husband after they secured the scene. They looked around and this grieving, bloodied man was in the ditch with his hands raised to heaven worshipping. When they later asked him how he could do that he replied, “Because I’m thankful for the time I did have with my family and I wanted God to get ahold of my heart before there was a chance to let it get bitter.” “My thankfulness was not only for God’s sake  but for me, to remind me of my purpose and His plan.” As this man’s family stood on the precipice of eternity what they would see was a man filled with grief for them –but also worship for His Lord. That beauty  only comes from a heart postured to see God’s face. It is supernatural, holy, sacred. It’s the only thing I know of that can even put a dent in the cruelty and sorrow displayed this week. Worship refreshes our perspective.

That story unnerves me. It has guided me as I faced the deaths of my loved ones. “Lord don’t let grief or the enemy’s threats block my view of your plan and glory.”

I can find many scriptures to go with these words but sometimes life is not all tied up in a bow. Sometimes I forget what God promised or said. Sometimes I forget who the bad and good guys are and my role in life. Sometimes life is just flat out hazy and confusing.

Yes, life is cruel and people can be intolerable and hateful – even to the point of murder.

The same sun that hardens clay, melts butter.
Lord, melt us today.

When we face grief, unthinkable conditions or situations, mass casualties or minor disappointments help us to be like your people of old and — choose life, choose healing, choose the high road.

*If you are facing grief, anger, loneliness or any other HUGE thing affecting your emotions or spirit today, please reach out. There are options and at this point choices. Don’t choose a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Pray for change, pray for healing. The pain grows exponentially so push it back the other way. Please choose life today.

For those not in that category:

Pray for those who are!  Introduce others to the only one who can bear burdens or truly lift pain. Extend some grace to those in grief. Show some love and support and rid yourself of all malice. Any common jerk can diagnose problems or analyze (judge) someone who is struggling – it’s the peacemakers that show up when there’s a need that make a difference. Blessed are those who bring that peace!  Knock on doors, make phone calls, and send notes of encouragement but CHOOSE LIFE. 

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly (fervently which means boiling over, hot and increasing in speed), since love covers a multitude of sins.” Maybe the “heat” in your life (fervent love) will just melt someone a little faster along the way.     

Praying for victims and their families today.

Praying for divine encounters with Wounders too.

Renae R.  2018


Start your engines, it’s a new work week and as always there’s lot of buzz about  “we can do it.” 

Work hard, try harder, earn more…. But what about that which we can’t do? Did anyone ask Rosie that?  There are some things that muscle, grit and strength do not provide no matter what gender you claim.  In all the equality talk I’d like to point out – there is One without equal, unrivaled who gives strength.

So this morning it is back to the grind. Remember when Huey Lewis sang,

“Hey I’m not complainin’ ’cause I really need the work,
Hittin’ up my buddy’s got me feelin’ like a jerk.
Hundred dollar car note, two hundred rent– I get a check on Friday,
but it’s already spent.”

It’s Monday morning and the highways are filled, it’s rush hour. Kids are back on the bus, back to school and racing to pull out assignments. People are at the water coolers all over America talking Olympics, news and weekend exploits. Pastors are wondering what went wrong over the weekend, some — what went right, janitors are cleaning up all kinds of mess in the pews. Workin for a livin…  It’s American, it’s what we do. President Trump is rolling out a new infrastructure budget, congress is planning on stalling, workers are preparing to fix, work and come Friday, grab a check and punch out. Scandals are being run through the presses, mamas are makin beds and  Investing in stocks, papas are cleaning houses, garbage collectors are rollin through the neighborhoods. 

T.G.I.F.  means people are looking forward to the weekend. The week has barely started and there is already talk about plans. At least in the world it works that way. What are your plans for the weekend? Will you feast, fast or go shopping? Where will you connect with God? Will you wear a new glittery outfit or blue jeans and a sweatshirt? Some will stock beer in their fridge; some will go to the grocery store after work. Some are already making choices they’ll regret. Some will set out special clothes and communion, preparing an extra setting at the table. Some will fling themselves in a lazy boy and pray their bones will last long enough to take them back to work on Monday morning. Some act and vision cast, some react and respond, the cycle will continue.

What is so paradoxical and wildly fun about the Gospel is this – it’s free. 

The payment, debt and hard work has already been done. It’s only Monday!  Free. We don’t earn it, we can’t work for it yet it gives LIFE – for free.  When Adam and Eve step into fellowship with God it happens because HE has done the work and they get to enjoy it. They work each day in celebration of HIS amazing provision. They weren’t working for a living, they were created with LIFE and then work to celebrate and thank that awesome creator. It levels the playing field because some  ALL women  (and some  ALL men) can’t do everything.  Even if they try their hardest, even if they don’t cheat, lie or steal.  No one can do what only Christ can do – justify someone. I hear Paul crying out thru history “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil.4:13  

Over the weekend we had company. We ate,  visited and enjoyed conversation, laughter and life. The ice storm brought in an extra guest and we just celebrated the family and friend time.  By accident, last week  we had organized the house a little bit so we did not have to scramble to prepare. I’ve heard laughter is the best medicine but it was so fun to remember, celebrate and look forward to the future. It made all the work the weekend before worth it, it gave it meaning. If one of God’s biggest gifts to us is ENJOYMENT of Him and those around us , we would certainly be remiss to miss it. We would be crazy to not cash our employer’s bonus check right? That’s what these moments are like – an extra blessing or gift. One of the largest presents from God seems to be a pretty important one. One that we celebrate – not earn.

What’s the Word on the street today? Justification.

It means we don’t earn what God gives us – it’s free. Some have said it stands for ” just if I’d never done it ” but that puts emphasis again on us. Man, we love to be the stars and center of everything don’t we? It means positionally we stand loved and valued – before Monday morning starts. Do positions matter? Yep, if it’s this one. Jesus served up a good ol plate of grace and salvation – something He did.  It’s FREE. Some say, “That person’s actions were justified.” It means that there was a good reason for what they did. With humans we really don’t have a reason–  we are without excuse. No amount of work, service or great skill, title, education or perfection makes us worthy in God’s eyes. Remember, it was human folks that beat up and crucified His son. That’s not going away. Son’s lives matter – that crucified Life mattered. But instead of God being ticked – He forgave and justified those who believe in His son. He accepted the payment which was very costly to Him.

That truly is amazing grace and it’s free.

We can’t ignore, remarket or sweep  sins under some cosmic carpet. We were, we are guilty and deserve the death penalty yet God in His mercy forgives and frees us.

You might say those  red letters wiped out that death sentence.  Word!

 Jesus preached with His very life.  We can now rejoice and thank God – on menacing Mondays. On terrible Tuesdays,  wicked Wednesdays, threatening Thursdays,  Fatigued Fridays, Sad Saturdays and  even spiritually dry Sundays. For Free, He’s paid the debt, covered the cost.

That is not like a free basket of kittens you get to neuter, feed and clean up after all year. It’s free. It’s not like the free vacation where you spend hours writhing in a time share promotion. It’s free. It’s not like a free test drive and then years of car payments. It’s free – completely.

What’s the catch? He wants you for His own, His Bride. 

He’s wooing you, drawing you, calling near His beloved. Today, we still look forward to the weekend and it’s always a good idea to plan ahead, but we don’t have to wait till then to take a deep breath, to rest in His provision, to sigh a huge sigh of relief that we are JUSTIFIED, forgiven and made free. We can work whatever work He has called us to do today out of GLADNESS and joy versus obligation, duty and guilt. Blessed if you do, blessed if you don’t, — guaranteed eternal life and joy — if you want. THANK GOD IT’S FREE!  TGIF.

Even though this is the beginning of the week you can put on a pair of  old ripped blue jeans and sweatshirt, take your hair down, sigh and pop open a cold one [think water or fruit beverage  that actually quenches thirst] —  and really THANK GOD you’re in right standing with God – it’s free. Aaaaagh….     (Close your eyes and just think of that for a minute or hour).  We can relax when the work is done – it’s finished. The rest is just praise for His name., working for the Father while it is still daylight. The heavy lifting was done by the man on the cross. 

My place before God was not done by my perfection or anything I avoid or have done but because of what JESUS has done. All the requirements against me – broken, all the condemnation postured to sink me – broken. All the hate, lies, accusations and assumptions around me – broken. I’m justified. If I’m in Christ, I am in right position with God by virtue of the cross. Man does not place you there so man cannot take you out. That’s job security right there.  My purpose does not come from my family or my church but my position in HIM. Condemnation? God’s not going to allow nonsense by His throne just the sweet whispers of the One who sits beside Him – “free, mine, free, beloved, free, covered – these  Father, I’ve justified!”   

Everything I say and everything I do can flow from that place of grace, mercy and thankfulness because all my obligation in Him is fulfilled/ completed. What a reason to be grateful and content today. I’m on His time clock (no time to repeat failures or folly ) and the best employee of the month has already been lifted up high for all to see. Mockers get out of that parking space it is reserved for the King! What a relief!  I don’t have to scrub away my bad qualities or fight to lift up my good ones – those positions have been taken. I rest in the position of being justified. Boss God, what can we do today to bless you? What is your heart, strategy, mind and will? We want to serve you in freshness, purity, joy and delight.  Yes, New Creation, new Day ,  I can’t  do everything but the thing that is most important Jesus CAN DO for me. It cost Him dearly but for me – it’s free. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.

 T  G  I  F – Thank God I’m Free ! 

Renae Roche 2018      

Majestic Monday – freedom. Thankful Tuesday – freedom. Worshipping Wednesdays – freedom. Tearing it up in praise Thursday – freedom. Flourishing freshness Friday – freedom. Saturated Saturdays – freedom. Soaking in His mercy Sundays – Freedom.  T.G.I.F. every precious, God loving, God breathing, God moving day. Let all God’s people say – amen!

                            Give Me ……   Coffee

In the morning when I rise, I drink a glass of water (refreshes the body and flushes the internal organs). Then I spend some time focusing my mind and heart for the day. No, I don’t believe I get any cosmic brownie points for minutes spent reading or even praying but it alerts my lazy self that this day does not belong to me and streamlines my purpose. The other thing I do with hunky hubby is have a cup of coffee. We had a professional barista from Starbucks at our wedding (a friend) and so every sip is like a romantic reminder. We enjoy coffee – liquid love. Now while I’m seeing stars and hearts swirling around the living room hubby is trying to open his eyes and probably praying that no one chatters away. Our mornings are shared but very different. Smile.

This past week hubby went on a business trip. He usually makes the coffee. There was none. The pot had no water; there was no warm caffeinated goodness. There sat an empty bag in the cupboard. The house was dark, it was cold. It was a pretty serious dilemma. The boys and I went through our normal routine and I dropped them off at school. We were all missing the dad, but sincerely I was also missing the coffee.

One of the tasks for my day was to pay  our tithe. Tithing has not been as fun recently as it seems so impersonal to send it off rather than dance or worship or hilariously give. The blond guy on television says tithing must be the FIRST thing that comes from our income. A speaker at church (Kennedy) states if you don’t do it before other expenses you are merely tipping God and in control of your own money – it’s a heart issue. That all sounds really good – in the middle of the month. It is more easy to debate at the end of the month when grocery budgets are strained. Sometimes you just shrug and wonder if God really cares about all those quarters and dimes. A couple weeks ago all I had in the bottom of my purse was a used gum wrapper and 27 cents. The next week I noticed it had doubled – even the gum wrapper.

So, after dropping the kids off at school I decided to put first things first. I went to the bank to get a money order so it didn’t tie up our account if the check wasn’t cashed right away. You have to get out of your car to do that and actually go in the bank. Once in, the lady (who looked like she had not had coffee either) said they didn’t do those and that I should go to QT. So, back in the car. Now I had the need to go through the drive thru at Starbucks but that would be first and since I was feeling especially legalistic I decided to go the full Monty. Once in QT, the nice man told me they didn’t do money orders with a debit card. That’s when the coffee withdrawal started kicking in. The bank lady seemed like a villain and I felt especially foolish – I had not brought cash. A kind lady walked over, fully perked and ready to go for the day – I’m assuming she has had a full pot of coffee, and  told me there was an ATM around the corner. It sounded so easy but my liquid love tank is now sucking wind. Funny thing about ATM’s – they need passwords which require CAFFEINE! Two years with the same password that is from a number I shouldn’t forget and there I stood. If you stand there and no money comes out, you look suspicious. There was also a small potential that I might fall asleep. I wondered if God saw all these efforts and if it made any difference or if I should have just done this task in the course of my day instead of making it such a priority.

Next thought was…. You may wonder why I think you care about my inner thoughts but I promise you it will help you as there is nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to warfare. I randomly thought, God is not legalistic. Does He really care if I tithe first? Surely He loves me and like David ate the grain in the field, God knows that I NEED COFFEE. Did He really say? I mean does He really care about the order of my day when He runs the universe? He sees my heart that I’m on my way and this is silly. A non-believer would think Christians are led by nonsense if I said anything. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, surely He can wait another half hour (after I get a latte at Starbucks) to get His money. Note that the coffee under 2.00 was elevated to a latte. Hmm? This is feeling less and less like worship.

I got back in my car to head to the bank when I saw the COSTCO sign. They probably have money orders there. I got out in the cold air, now my neck is hurting. No longer do they do money orders. They do however have large packs of blueberries and warehouse size bags of COFFEE. God wants my family to eat? Who would fault me if I just bought groceries really quick like and then went to the Starbucks and then to the bank? No one even knows I’m going through all this. I’ve served the Lord for years, He isn’t concerned about my measly little tithe, He would rather I feed my family and protect my health. Doesn’t God care about hungry little children? Legalism is like leaven and I’m bought with the blood. Yep, I’m free and this is ridiculous, for heaven’s sake. … Heaven’s sake. By this point the obvious has floated to the top that I’m a little more pampered than I thought and think way too deeply about theology. However my heart really wants to bless God and put Him first in my life. I want to honor Him.

As I drove out of the parking lot I noticed a couple having an argument. He went away and the woman sat there. Now I’m going to be lured away and distracted again from getting on with my day? No way, only Pharisees struggle with all this minutia and I’m going home. I got to the end of the parking lot and felt drawn to go back. God saw this woman. He had compassion on her. Her craving for God (prayer) was much stronger than my craving for caffeine and something arrested my attention. God sees her now.

This blog isn’t about that encounter although it would be a cool and  fun story to tell.

I left that parking lot singing, crying tears of joy and so aware that God sees where we are and knows everything about us. I was so deeply touched that God loved this person so much that He “illuminated” her and let her know that He saw her and cared enough to step into her world. As I pulled out to the highway I sensed the presence of God so strong in my car that it even satisfied my craving for coffee. It would be late in the afternoon before I even remembered I wanted some. I absolutely do not have to tithe, nor do I have to do specific exercises to “prove” my love or gain God’s favor. But somehow, when I align myself with His purposes which benefit me, He brings me into His world and shows me a little taste of His kingdom. I felt like I was on His schedule and plan rather than just my own. The clock of my week and day were altered but it turned out better than if I had just had an ordinary day doing my own thing. Had God circumvented my day and circumstances to get me into place for His design? 

This morning I read in Mark 9 that Jesus was going up on a mountain by himself and the disciples went with him. It wasn’t a special event, just a couple guys getting away – until Elijah and Moses showed up. God speaks (one of the only times in the NT) and tells them to listen to JESUS. Big theological shift. The disciple’s immediately try to put Him in one of their boxes (tents) to make sure He’s safe and covered but God covered Him from on high.  It started out just an ordinary day – but they followed the King and it became very extraordinary.

This morning I woke up and felt stirred to write this blog. I usually do it on Mondays. I’m not sure why but it seems like maybe there is someone reading this  that is worn down from serving God with a pure heart and being around others who are offering up things Cain style. Serve Him anyway. Flourish and love extravagantly – don’t let others miserly or stingy hearts make you feel prudish or legalistic because you run with abandoned love. Whether you are in a car, van or Costco parking lot, God knows your struggles and your efforts to love on Him. He can sort out the rest because He loves you. Your efforts to bless Him please and delight His heart.


Any movement towards God is a praise.


I get muddled up with all the rules and regulations — I don’t even know what they are at times. I know I do not want to be like a Pharisee or Sadducee. More than anything I want to align my heart and life with Kingdom principles and follow after Christ. I need His liquid love daily and I want to do my part however large or small. Whether its tithing, Sabbath observance, serving…   Listen to Jesus and follow HIM. He’s got this covered and wants to show us HIS Kingdom. We love because He first loved us.

In the morning, when I rise, just give me    coffee  …..        JESUS.

Ps. Yes the tithe got all ready, the bank blessed me  and God provided for a need. Those led by the spirit are the sons of God. So glad the liquid love of Heaven never runs dry.

Renae Roche February 2019

“They will proclaim my glory among the nations.”  Isaiah 66:19



In the past few months we have been challenged and blessed to be a part of several missions conferences for four different nations. Each of these were represented by different denominations in different cities. As the calendar got filled and our finances got tighter I worried what our kids would “see” as we engaged in the various events. 

The first one we attended had a focus of doing outreach projects for the national church in a country overseas. The local church  in America was sending laborers and money, equipping their members to reach out.  We, as a family group are going to partner with the family that lives there. The fellowship was so amazing and the food could have been served at Jack Stack it was so wonderful. This event made me want to go with the team and prompted me to pray and give. I felt God’s spirit unifying and calling the people. I saw such a collaborative heart.

The church members overseas will get some rest as others come and help them labor.

The second one focused on two different countries overseas helping them reach their budget and build the local church. These countries just happened to be where my husband and my ancestors were from which surprised us both. Testimonies were shared about securing buildings and lives being touched. They did a fundraiser (auction) and you could sense the giving heart of the congregation and total commitment to raise funds even at great sacrifice. The food was represented by several different cultures and was quite the smorgasbord. The crab rangoons were exceptional! This one also touched my heart as I saw my kids get stirred in their faith to serve God and their hearts touched as other kids donated items to sell. In the midst of that event I met someone from Eastern Europe which brought back memories of my trip there. Miles away from home he was part of a group blessing other nations.  I expanded my prayer list and was reminded of God’s provision for us here in the states. We savored ice cream later that night after hearing many can not purchase it in their cities. We had taken such a small thing for granted.  Those who prayed and those who gave were all blessed and the entire crowd got to celebrate the results.

The pastors will get some rest as they can focus on the work of the ministry instead of raising funds or getting second jobs.

The last one was focused on one nation empowering the people, giving them food, micro-loans and helping them build their own houses. The food served was specific to that nation and there were learning stations for each aspect of their culture. You could also buy coffee, jewelry or books. After seeing videos of lean -to shelters, I was thankful for our home and realized it was a blessing – plumbing, heating and running water included. My tattered couch was no longer an eyesore but an extravagance.  This group has dug their heels deep into one community and literally caused transformation throughout the nation. It was so well run and professional. “Seamless leadership” was the prevailing thought after the event and each section glorified God, with little emphasis on the people from the USA doing the work. All of the focus was on the smiles of the people and their needs. Little was said of those giving or going. Much was said about doing the work (clothing, feeding, housing) in Jesus name and example.

The families will receive rest as they eat, sleep and live in homes that now have strong walls and concrete instead of mud floors.

We pray for a precious couple in Africa, unable to email or let us know their needs. They have no conference here but we call out their names and trust God to supply, comfort and anoint. We trust that in the absence of American workers, God will send heavenly and earthly ambassadors to do His bidding.

I wanted to blog about these events because it struck me, why in the world would busy, engaged people work so hard to bring rest to other people they have never met before? Why would they take their hard earned money and give it away so strangers could get a little peace? Believers, pastors, families are all getting blessed, touched and encouraged. Those giving have joy on their faces, contentment in their hearts and strain on their pocketbooks. The people stateside – were connected, humming in harmony as they went about their work. No one debated the flag, politics, immigrants. No one grabbed for the last chicken leg or fought for attention. They gathered, they gave, they prepared to go.

Our friends from different denominations stretched our hearts. They are beautiful people – inside and out and invited us to see the world through their lenses and we were touched. Our friends within our denomination rallied our faith, calling us to something greater than ourselves. Whether it be serving lemonade, filling out feedback surveys, bringing a testimony or a song, we were part of something we will not soon forget. We connected in our small little way with another nation in a way that will become big. That’s sacred, holy. I wonder if it gives God rest?

We gather, we give, we go. Blessing others blesses us. None of these conferences could have happened without a large group of people working together towards a common goal. That’s noteworthy, unity working, collaboration sharing. There was no red carpet, no goodie bag (although my husband scored some cheese at one event), no awards or trophy. NBC, CBS nor FOX news covered it. President Trump nor Obama tweeted about it. No women marched for or against it. Hillary Clinton made no cameo appearance. Yet, somehow it worked and spread like joyous leaven through the crowd. giving all a lift.

My heart was filled, my families hearts were filled, just a little bit more.

I wonder if the people overseas will lay in their beds tonight and know someone is thinking about them. I wonder if they know help is on its way. I wonder if they will realize their plight brought joy as people gathered to alleviate their stress. I wonder if they know that people thousands of miles away dearly love them and want them to be supported and blessed. Is there some little boy, some little girl praying “God please see our need.” Is there some daddy, some mama, trusting that He will?

Yes, the world continues to spin but the Body of Christ in all her glory… remains very beautiful, very unique. As I told my kids this week “we do not go to Church, we ARE the church.”


Renae Roche  2018



Thank God it is Friday! 

I raced around the house today cleaning and picking up hoping to spend more time with the family and less time being “mama super freak house cleaner” this weekend. Good goal but oh so never reachable. Lol. I sat down to take a break and have breakfast and turned on a female talk show. Before they sat down they all danced behind their chairs. It seemed kind of weird and plastic to me when I saw it a couple weeks ago but today I kind of liked it. When I sit down at the table tonight I think I’ll try it. Woo-hoo. Oh yea, mamas in the house!  I’ll shake my booty; give a shout out to God with a little hallelujah or something. Or when I go to church, seriously laugh out loud, I’ll say woo-hoo and twirl around before I sit down in the chair.  Why is it normal for talk show hosts to celebrate and get their praise on but not regular folk?  I will not follow my praise jig with a bourbon or special drink as these ladies did but I might just get myself some tart cherry juice and celebrate the decrease of inflammation in my veins. Yes! Down with inflammation, up with healthy cholesterol.

So, not what you would expect from a theological blog on Rest but the wind down for the weekend has begun. To the pure all things are pure; to the free all things can be free.

On that momentary break in my day a commercial came on. It seemed so innocent and just a little commercial. They expounded on the ways my dog loves me and all the cute little things he does that make my life worth living. (I don’t have a dog). It was fun and fuzzy until they asked, “So what are you doing for him?” hmmm? I was cornered and stuck and sat there with millions of other viewers feeling woefully not ready to confess – nothing, he’s a dog. oh the shame that bowed our heads.  I kept watching only to hear that if you really appreciated and respected ALL that this wonderful better than a friend, furry little critter does for you then you would reciprocate that love. I felt so condemned. I’m not a bad dog owner. I’m not even a dog owner. This is crummy. Then the catch came – if you truly love your faithful friend you will buy him this certain brand of puppy chow.

They asked: “ How do you love him back? ”

It was effective; I felt the hook and momentarily felt a twinge of guilt even though I don’t even OWN A DOG!  Man, what’s wrong with these people not loving their dogs back? Sounds like a serious neglect and lack of compassion. It was a nice break  to be mad at these dog owners rather than politicians.

The spiritual marketplace hawkers do similar things. You want to really love God and thank Him for all He’s done?  Then you need to buy Jesus a Christmas  box or present to show Him your love is real – buy now! You need to worship in this posture, style or sanctuary  – come now! You must or need to support this ministry or buy this gold brick to give or pay back God’s love – call now. You need to get this information, CD, book, shirt , class, conference or app if you really want to show God and others that you too are fully engaged, loving, etc. Love now. AAAGH!  We sit feeling  condemned and wondering who to listen to. If Jesus paid my debt why are all the spiritual people trying to sign me up for obligatory loans and paybacks? What’s the difference between offering up our praise and buying off God? It can feel like a spiritual shake down and not grace quickly.  What’s love and what’s debt?

Two Things:

  1. We love because He first loved us. For God so loved the world that He gave (freely without thought of return) His son. No He doesn’t ask for anything in return but specifically that we follow His son. God wants our love and devotion and wants us to love our neighbor. Showing mercy delights Him which speaks to action –based on His voice and leading, not marketers and their goods. If it requires more than simple faith, we should pause. The just live by faith. So what does God require or possibly like? Loving Him. Another verse Gal. 5:14 tells us that we fulfill the law by loving our neighbor but that’s impossible to do by sitting inside your house and not reaching out. He never puts in red letters – go to church, run yourself ragged, donate to every cause and sing hymns in minor keys. Loving your neighbor takes relationship with God to know how, when and where. It also takes receiving ministry from them.  Do we pray for them as much as we pray for ourselves and our families? Living relationship. What good things prevent us from doing what God prefers we do for Him?  



2. It’s a good idea to love God back. Not like the puppy story above where it is out of obligation or one biscuit equals three licks and a handshake. One way we show God and the angelic realm that we still love Him is by setting aside time to spend with Him (Sunday church, Sabbath Rest, Family communion – pick your passion) . It’s helpful to prepare now what you will do this weekend to love on God. He stands and waits….  He longs for His kids to come home…. He beckons you to the table… He calls you to hear… He sings over you songs of love. Our worship is indicative of how we want to love Him back and part of being thankful for all He’s done for us.

Hubby has been very busy lately. Not crazy busy as a workaholic but fruitful, focused and purposeful asking God where he fits in the kingdom busy. We snuck away for a date on Thursday – smile.  At first I said I was too busy and the kids had plans and it was a school night . Then I realized there was nothing I would truly like to do more than be with this guy that captures my heart. He’s the one I promised to love. Seriously, why would I let anything or anybody block that time?  Schedule – back up!  It wasn’t the usual day but it thrilled my heart. It demonstrated to me that he’s still interested in me, that he appreciates me. He didn’t owe me for making supper, cleaning, etc. What a joy!  I so enjoyed the time with him and laughter.   God has preferences, emotions and blessings and will share them with those who inquire of Him and respond to His invitation to draw near. “God I want to love you back, thank you and just be with you this weekend, receive my love.” Relationships that are reciprocal, trusted , honoring and loving are awesome! True for puppies, friends, spouses and I’m thinking today probably God too.  One-sided anything is draining. I want God to know I prefer Him – enough to give Him priority and time.

“If we offer up nothing – that’s just bad puppy chow man.  Giving Him you’re table scraps or leftovers – dude, that’s not even puppy chow that’s just lame.  “

We are not ready for a puppy yet but when we get one I’m definitely going to get that special puppy chow to love my puppy back. I do not want to be a selfish, cold dog owner. That sounds just awful. I also don’t want to be a cold, loveless recipient of God’s love.  I want Him to know how much I love Him so I will spend time in His presence and ask Him to reveal to me how I can bless Him best .

Loving Him back…   

Renae Roche

As always, you can weigh in on these discussions by emailing the contact info on the website. I’d love to hear and share your thoughts!


In a violent culture it is difficult to find good things to watch on television. We introduced our kids to some of the golden “oldies” so they too could enjoy Gilligan, Fonzie and the rest of the people who made our lives interesting when we were kids. One of the shows “The Beverly Hillbillies” we especially like, because they are down to earth folks who are kind hearted. Netflix does not cut out the commercials and one day we noticed one of the boys singing, “Winston tastes good, like a good cigarette should.” So much for bringing back the good old days – they weren’t necessarily good in all aspects!

The discussions  on social media now are no longer about cigarette use as the debate over marijuana has taken over. What was once a felony, smoking weed, is now legalized in some states. Parents in those states are scrambling to teach their kids how to “say no” when adults around them are saying yes. It’s a new drug war and just about the time you think the teens are safe they have a new interest in ingesting laundry detergent pods.  Ew!

My  friends who work in healthcare tell me an even bigger war is  raging -keeping kids hands clean and sanitized. New superbugs have entered hospitals and schools that are super resistant to all antibiotics and causing death from what used to be just a simple cut or even the flu. Hygiene is important and scientists can now tell us exactly how the germs work against our immune system.

So, what are “normal” protections, what is morally wrong when the state says it is legal and what is rigidity and legalism? One man took on the whole debate and got himself killed for it – Jesus. He  isn’t oblivious to our new dilemmas– He created all those bugs, germs and dirt. He would have been familiar with the concept “do not become slaves of anything.” He could see years down the line what drugs and  addictions would do.

I wonder why He went for the spiritual and did not address all the other things?

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but

what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 

12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile (make spiritually unclean) anyone.”

He told the disciples to side- step petty arguments that are intended to trip you up in punishment and judgement – good advice as the Pharisees were not looking to reconcile but to prove themselves righteous and holy. They were gnats in the ointment and Jesus discerned that.

I recently heard a kind brother in the Lord worry that smoking would defile him as a Christian.  He was told that smoking was a barrier between him and God. I grew up around people who smoked so I’ve never had that legalistic filter (pun intended). One of my first pastors smoked during our youth meetings so I just thought it was something adults did. He also cussed some. It demonstrated to me that God was much higher and this guy was not God but would tell us what he knew about him. We had to fin for ourselves to define holy. Looking back it may have been a good thing because there was no super leader / savior complex and we were all just scraggly creatures looking for a kingdom – together. Hmm?

The argument could be made that nicotine imbeds itself in your brain (neurotransmitters) so it does not flush out but remains there craving, screaming for more. Once the person quits though, it does come out so that would be weak to push that as an argument here. My hips will testify that the chocolate doth remain, but that’s another story.  

What lingered in my mind was this – why would someone take a little smoking wrapper and use that as a way to block a brother (or sisters) access to Christ? Jesus clearly said it does not defile someone because it is temporary. A greater ill is using one’s mouth to slander or harm or gossip about someone. That makes one UGLY and those around them ill. Inside.  Drinking  communion grape juice all day won’t flush that out. However,  repentance and communion to signpost it might be part of that process.  The payment Jesus made on the cross is capable of making us clean on the inside. 

In this text, we must insert our own names_____ here because the second we insert someone else’s we are back to being in the defiled bucket. Ouch. No wonder Jesus addressed this as a systemic evil. There’s only one who is righteous  and  it  isn’t the Marlboro man. Only One has paid the price for all to enter in:

 “This was according to the ETERNAL purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in  HIM,  in HIM.” Eph. 3 Also see Heb. 4:16.

What one abstains from (makeup, movies, cigarettes) does not make one holy/clean. What one achieves (education, good works, church rituals, 24/7 worship) does not make one holy/clean.   If that were the standard then the highest bidder or best ecclesiastical gymnast would get the trophy. Only the blood of Jesus can make one clean. Only (sola) that cross payment on Calvary can “open doors” to God’s heart.  Grape juice doesn’t flush out sin  but it can remind us that spiritually Christ’s blood can make us whiter than snow and pay the penalty for all of our sins – great and small.


Three  of my favorite Christian women were smokers and ultimately it killed them, leaving a big hole in my heart. I will never be a fan of smoking because it took away those I cherished. I get angry every time I even think of the lure on the commercials – they were bait and switch and robbed us of family. However, the greatest love in my life is not distant or repulsed by smoking and He gets to determine the definition of defiled – not me, although honestly sometimes I would really like to. No ritual, tradition, food or anything else defiles someone so much that the way to Jesus is blocked, or even lessened in some way. It just isn’t mercy to rate others sins, it isn’t holy and if I were Jesus , I’d be offended at those who made others feel like they were “defiled” so much that they could not draw near. He beckons them, draws them, and longs for them because He sees something on the inside that we never could and

the Father sees something also – the blood of His Son.

All humans have “issues” and things they need help fixing. Mercy says Jesus will help. Lordship says Jesus is the one who determines how and when. The door is not revolving – it is blood bought and fixed in eternity. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him (Winston user, Vaper, Toker or abstainer) should NOT perish but have everlasting life. He made a way, cleared back the religious and self-righteous and shouts COME! To ALL who are willing. That’s an open invitation based on God’s large heart, not our earthly restrictions.

Today, I’ll sanitize and wash my hands – I don’t want the flu or to spread staph to my family. Today, I will breathe in clean air. Today I will eat my greens. Not because it makes me holy but it’s a good choice. Today I will ask God to cleanse my mouth, my heart and help me kick back any roadblocks I have put in others way that might falsely make anyone think they are blocked from the blood or presence of Christ because of something they’ve ingested or done on the outside. It (the blood) always serves as a reminder to me that I’m not holy because others smoke, toke or vape and I don’t.

He is my only  righteousness.

He’s the cleaner, the detergent, the sanctifier and the ONLY One who declares us holy or defiled by His standard — the cross.

BOLD, access with confidence…. Put out the welcome mat and step aside, an invited one is making his way on in! Just as we are? Yes, not because we smell of nicotine or altar incense but because He’s worthy and holy and clean, we can enter in whether scraggly or sanitized.


2018 Renae Roche  


*Warning disclaimer: The surgeon general has warned that smoking is harmful to one’s health. The Bible has also warned that hindering others from entering in can also  be harmful to one’s eternal health.