Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~He Is Risen~ March 31, 2013

Friday night we gathered with our church family to meditate on the events of the day that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified at Calvary.  Those involved in the service were clothed in black, a symbol of the sorrow that was felt when our Lord and Savior breathed His last.  The overall mood was somber and one of reverence.  The atmosphere was subdued, with dim lights and candles casting a soft glow throughout the sanctuary.  Beautifully hand-made, wooden crosses towered over the seats near the front.

But not today.  Today, we celebrate that our God is not dead.  He is more alive than any of us.

This morning we will all show up in our pastel colored “Sunday bests” ready to celebrate the victory!  Songs of thanksgiving about His gloriousness will fill the room.  The quietness of Friday will be replaced with shouts of praise.  Where the crosses stood will now be an empty tomb crafted by the hands of faithful servants of the Lord.

And I will stand, humbled, in the presence of The God who loved me, a sinner, enough to lay down His life for mine.

HeIsRisen“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

(John 15:13)

 While dyed eggs and marshmallow peeps flood your home today, don’t forget that the Easter bunny was not the one who gave his life for you…it was the one and only Jesus.  Be blessed on this Resurrection Sunday.

 

~It’s Friday, but Sunday is Coming~ March 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:00 am
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JesusonCrossToday is Good Friday, an important day to Christians everywhere.  For it was on this day, thousands of years ago, that Jesus died a criminal’s death so that you and I might live.  Tonight I, along with my family, will attend a church service, dressed all in black, to mourn the death of our Savior and King.  Tears may be shed just as they were on that faithful day.  However, unlike those who mourned His death at the cross, we know what the future holds.

Today is Good Friday, but Resurrection Sunday is on the way. 

Although Jesus died, His death was not an ending but a beginning.

He was hanged from a wooden cross replacing the need for sacrificial offerings.

He was beaten so that through His wounds we could find healing.

He was mocked by the very sinners who He willingly traded His life as a ransom for their souls.

His blood spilled on the ground at Calvary was the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of His people.

He was laid to rest in an empty tomb, sealed up and guarded by armed men.  Yet we don’t serve a God who lies dead in a tomb somewhere, our God is alive.

Though today is only Friday, Sunday is just up ahead.

Three days later and just as He promised, He rose again.  He walked out of the grave with holes in His hands, proof that He was the Messiah.  Now there is no fear in death for we know it is only a means to the end that is an eternity with Him.  The grave has no victory. Jesus does hold the keys to death, hell and the grave.  He reigns forever from His seat at the right hand of the Father, interceding for you and me when we call on His Holy name.   So saints, open up your eyes!

Today may be Friday, but Sunday is coming!

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

(John 3:16 NLT)

 

~Life Is Messy~ March 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:35 am
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My youngest child wanted to play downstairs but this busy momma had work to do upstairs.  So I sent her down to play unsupervised like I would one of the big kids.  My thought process was, “how much damage can one kid do?”  Being the mother of five, I really should have known better than to entertain this thought.  After about 15 minutes, I realized it was quiet…too quiet.  The kind of quiet that can only mean one thing, disaster has struck.  I tiptoed down the steps to find my not-yet-2-year-old in the middle of a mess of tornado-like proportion that would have garnered at least an F-3 on the Fujita Scale.  Every piece of neatly folded clothing belonging to her and her sister had been ripped from their homes and scattered around the room.  All three beds had been stripped of their coverings and were being used to form a replica of tent-city.  Pictures were on the floor, dollies were hanging from the doors, diapers lay in every corner of the room, (unused, praise Jesus).

Now, to some of you this may seem like no big deal.  However, for those of you who share the neat-freak gene, you will sympathize with me.  Under normal circumstances I would have just cleaned it up.  On this particular day, I literally had just finished doing the laundry which is no small feat with a family of 7.  I was heading out the door for preschool pick-up and my neat-and-tidy side refuses to let me leave my home in such disarray, even if only for a few minutes.  So, did this mommy go into the chorus of the “clean-up” song with a smile on her face-uh…no.  This crazy woman went tearing through the room like a raving lunatic; throwing things back into the proper places all while my sweet baby girl stood paralyzed from either shock or fear.  That’s when I felt it.  That little nudge in my spirit telling me to take a chill pill.  I was making a huge deal about nothing.  My Bella didn’t know she had done something wrong, because she hadn’t.  She was playing, quite nicely I might add, all by herself.  (Enter maniac-mommy stage left)

I wasn’t exactly setting a good example for the little eyes that are always upon us.  If I blow up every time things get a little messy, I’m paving the way for my kids to follow in my obsessive compulsive foot-steps.  I was teaching my daughter that when messes happen, the way to handle them is to come unglued.  Bad parenting red flags shot up everywhere!  Wise words from Proverbs 22 rang through my head,

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

(vs. 6)

So I stopped what I was doing, scooped up my girl and told her what a beautiful job she had done redecorating.  After pick-up and lunch, the girls and I went into a slightly off-key version of the clean up song and restored order to the room just in time for naps.

 

~Be Strong & Courageous x 3~ March 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:08 am
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“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9)

“I told you three times!”  “Don’t make me count to three…” “I’m going to give you three chances.”  Apparently three is a popular number or at least it is in this house.

Something about the number three signifies importance to me.  When I give my kids instructions, I hit the repeat button twice.  If I need my husband home at a certain time, I tell him before he leaves for work, call him during the day and shoot him a text close to time to be certain he is on the way.  When I have an upcoming event that I don’t want to miss, I write it in my planner, set a reminder on my cell and tell my spousal unit, “Don’t let me forget such-n-such” (yeah right, like that’s the best course of action).  I don’t really know how the number three came to be my “go to” number.

Then I was reading in Joshua chapter one where the Lord is speaking to Joshua about his impending journey across the Jordan to take possession of the land promised to the Israelites.  In a single paragraph, the Lord commands him not once, but three times to be strong and courageous.  Hmmm…could it be that my love for the number three is because it was the Lord’s favorite number too?  Obviously the Lord wanted to make sure He had Joshua’s attention.  “I said be strong & courageous.  Hey, did you hear me?  Be strong & courageous.  Pay attention now. One more time, say it with me “Be strong & courageous!”  If the Lord felt it was important enough to say it three times, maybe we should take heed to the meanings of the words.   In the context in which they are spoken in these verses, they would be synonymous with standing firm; holding your ground; not being deterred by fear, pain or calamity.  They are given not as a request but a command from the Lord Almighty.

God doesn’t want His children to be consumed by a spirit of fear.  He has promised us victory over our enemies, given us a firm foundation on which to stand and assured us of an eternity to spend with Him.  Why would we not be strong and courageous?!  The God of Heaven’s armies is working on our behalf.  He never grows weary nor does He sleep.  Although we face trials that cause us to stumble, He is there with an extended hand to lift us back to our feet.

 

~Young Love~ March 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:35 am
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This past weekend, my oldest daughter and I attended the bridal shower of an old friend, (old as in long-time, not age).  She and her fiancé had the ethereal look of bliss that can only be described as young love.  Their eyes twinkled when they looked at each other like they share secrets that no one else knows.  There is warmth in their embrace and a tenderness in the way he placed his hand on her back to escort her across the room.  As I watched them smile and laugh for the cameras, I prayed that their love would not fade over time.

After watching the exchanges between this young couple, I couldn’t help but reflect on my wedding day.  I remember the butterflies that magically appeared in my stomach every time Jamie looked at me.  I felt a love for him that was unparalleled to anything I had ever experienced before.  Our new love was much like that of this soon-to-be-wed twosome.  Fast forward seven years and two (more) kids later, does our love still look the same to outsiders?  As much as I’d like to say yes, there are days that I would doubt that to be true.  My love for my man has not faded.  It has grown stronger with each passing day.  I feel certain he would say the same in regards to me.  So why is it not always obvious to those around us?  Because there are times when I don’t honor my husband as head of our household as the Bible instructs me to do.  Sometimes I’d rather throw a temper-tantrum like my two-year-old than submit to his authority.  This door does swing both ways!  Colossians 3:19 says “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”  While my husband is not a yeller by any stretch of the imagination, there has been a time or two when he has been somewhat curt in his actions towards me.

Maintaining sacrificial love on a daily basis is difficult at best for even the most head-over-heels in love couples.  So how can we overcome these obstacles that interfere with the kind of marriage that Christ wants us to have?  By giving honor to marriage and remaining faithful to one another. (Hebrews 13:4)  Let your love for the Lord be reflected in the love you show your spouse.  Then when challenging times come your way, you won’t be caught with your guard down allowing the enemy free access to your marriage.

In closing, a message for the young couple, Alicia & T. J.,  who are allowing us to be a part of their love story:

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”Faudale

( 1 Thessalonians 3:12)

 

~A Different Kind of Clothing~ March 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:29 am
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I am sure you have noticed how followers of some religions wear specific items that make them easily recognizable.  For example, Jewish men top their heads with yamakas; Muslim women cover themselves with the hijab; those who study Kabbalah tie a thin red string around their wrist.  But Christians don’t wear any outer coverings that would immediately identify them as God’s children.  So how is the world to recognize you as a follower of Christ?

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with

tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

(Colossians 3:12)

How can you put on a list of inanimate objects?  By being so immersed in God’s love that it radiates from you no matter where you go.  Perfect strangers should be able to see a difference in you that sets you apart from the rest of the world.  Chances are if you are walking around with a scowl on your face like the world has done you some terrible injustice, no one is going to recognize the Spirit living in you. 

Jesus himself gave us countless examples of how we can show the world mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

Mercy was shown to the tax collector in Luke 18 when he admitted his shortcomings as opposed to the arrogant boastings of the Pharisee.  He humbled himself in Jesus’ presence, “God have mercy on me, a sinner” (vs. 13), and was shown favor as a result.

Kindness was given to the children who flocked to his feet, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

An act of humility was displayed when Jesus stood before John the Baptist, seeking his services.  John argued “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” (Matt 3:14) Jesus simply replied that it must be so and the son of God was baptized by a mere mortal.

Gentleness is heard in the words spoken to the frightened woman whom Jesus healed, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:34)

Jesus practiced patience on a regular basis with his disciples.  They questioned his methods and doubted the revelation of his death time and time again.  Yet Jesus continued to teach them and guide them with love and understanding.

The Bible gives no account of Jesus wearing anything that marked his divinity.  It was by his actions and the words he spoke that people were drawn to him and came to know the Father.  And so it should be with our treatment of others today.  Our attitudes and actions should be reflective of the life of Jesus so that in the absence of defining garments, the world will know the God that we serve.

“Above all else, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony”

(Colossians 3:14)

 

~How I Started this Writing Thing~ March 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:33 pm
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ImageI can still remember vividly how a few short months ago my boy was sick.  Not just kind of sick; a debilitating, missing school, constant sleeping kind of sick.  He was suffering from severe headaches on a daily basis and the worst part was we had no clue why.  Test after test was done on my precious boy.  We watched him suffer when no medication brought him relief.  I cried out to God on a daily basis, begging Him to heal my boy or shift the pain and suffering to me.  I read, studied and prayed more than I ever had in my entire life.  One Sunday morning, right in the middle of worship, I came unglued.  I stood before the congregation and wept in the presence of God.  Feelings of brokenness and defeat overpowered me.  I was fighting a battle within myself that can only be described as spiritual warfare.  I could feel the Lord trying to speak to me in my spirit but the voices in my head were drowning Him out.  “This is your fault.  Your son is sick because of all your past mistakes.  The sins of the mother have been passed down to the son.”  Then out of nowhere, my Pastor was standing before me.  Through my tears, I could see the seriousness that marked his expression.  He leaned in close and whispered these words, “I want you to hear me, Valerie.  God has spoken to me and wants me to tell you, this is not about Peyton.  Now hear me out.  God did not cause this sickness, but He is using it to transform you.  God is changing you and causing you to grow through this.  He is building a ministry in you.”  That very moment was a turning point in my life. 

Although my son continued to be sick for another five weeks after this message was given to me, my mindset had been totally transformed.  I no longer asked God why but instead what?  As in what do you want me to learn from this?  How can I turn this suffering into something meaningful?  I started keeping a journal of the conflicting emotions that tore through my heart and mind.  Every time the enemy came at me, I’d find a Scripture to ward him off.  Then one faithful day, just as suddenly as the sickness had pounced, it left his body.  I’m talking a one-hundred percent, complete healing!  He was back to his normal football-playing, 5K running, prank playing self!  There were no remaining indicators of whatever sickness had plagued him for a solid two months.

I could have let his healing allow me to slack off in my devotion to God.  After all, I no longer had a desperate need to call out to Him on a daily basis.  But I chose to press further into Him.  I continued to read & pray and I began to ask God to use me.  What started with personal writings in my journal soon became short devotions.  Feeling compelled to share with others, I started using my facebook page as my own little podium for teaching and sharing God’s goodness.  Initially, I was only posting sporadically, but I found that each day, God was giving me a word.  I thought, “If it’s speaking to me, Lord, maybe someone else needs to hear it too.”  With that mindset, I was posting everyday during the week, allowing myself time to be refreshed on the weekends. 

I may never have reached this point in my walk with God had I not had a need so desperate that it pushed me into a closer relationship with Him.  I’m not saying I would want to go back there again and watch any of my children suffer but I’m thankful for the change that it brought about in me.  My faith & reliance on God was multiplied during that season and has continued to flourish in the days since.  He started a fire in me that I pray will never be put out.  I am thankful that God softened my spirit so that I would be receptive to His word that was spoken through man.  And I am thankful for the man, Pastor Chad Dunford, who was obedient when the Lord gave him that message for me. 

Never assume that trials in your life are a direct result of sin.  It could be that the troubles you are facing are just what you need to get your attention turned to God so that He can develop a ministry in you.