Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Teach Love~ June 28, 2013

When my daughter was in first grade, she had her first encounter with hate.  They were doing an exercise to help the children develop their reading and writing skills.  Each day, the students would take turns writing whatever they liked on a giant notepad in front of the class.  Obviously the spelling and grammar was less than perfect so they would then “read” what they had written and make corrections together as a class. On this particular day, a little girl had her turn at the board.  She finished her writing and turned to the class and said, “My mom and dad said I can’t be friends with Autumn anymore because she is white.”  My then six year old started to cry.  The girls went to the office but this momma wasn’t made aware until my daughter came home and told me herself, (that’s another story in itself).

I can still remember the tears in her eyes when she told her daddy & I what had happened.  She was clueless as to why this little girl who had been one of her best friends would say something so hurtful.  Both girls were terrified going into the office.  After all, the little girl simply repeated what her parents told her.

The best explanation we could give our daughter was that the other girls parents were wrong.  We shared with her that the Bible says we are to love one another with no restrictions based on the color of our skin.

Even now my heart breaks for children who are being taught to hate for no other reason than someone’s skin tone.  We are all made in the image of God therefore we are of one race.  As Galatians 3:28 says, discrimination in any form is wrong because “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”  You can’t argue with ignorance but you can educate against it.  Teach your children to love without limitations as Christ loves us.  If you were raised with hate in your heart, it’s never too late to abandon your old ways.  Embrace the truth that if Jesus died for us all, who are we to determine that one is better than another based on ethnicity?teach_love

 

~What happened to grace?~ June 27, 2013

graceSocial media has once again inspired me.  It seems that everyone has an opinion on a certain well-known Southern lady and something that she did or said many years ago.  Now, before anyone fires off hate mail my way, let me make my point.

What we all are seeing, hearing, and reading about this case is only what the media is allowing, so I believe we’d all agree that our information is limited.  Do any of us really know what this woman said or thought 30 years ago or even yesterday for that matter?  I understand that she made offensive remarks about a certain ethnic group, and I am not defending that fact.  However, how many of us can stand up and say we have not once ever said something derogatory, discriminating or offensive about another human being?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASV)

It is because she is in the limelight that her mistake is being broadcast for all the world to see.  And it is for this same reason that most of America feels they have a right to judge her.  But what if someone flung open the door to our past so that all of our transgressions were laid out for the whole world to see?  How many of us would lose friends over something we or they did many years ago?

My girlfriend and I were talking about this last night at church and it all comes down to one word: grace.  The vast majority of our population has no grace.  There is no forgiveness of wrongs, no room for human error, nor is there any mercy.  Someone blunders and the world cries foul and screams for justice.  The offender attempts to apologize and we collectively turn our backs refusing a 2nd chance.  Why?  We are neither judge nor jury.  It is not our place to sit back and condemn another HUMAN BEING from the comfort of our homes based solely on what we think we know.  The truth of the matter is, no one knows another’s heart condition.  We can’t see into someone’s heart and know if they are sincere or simply tossing out words that they think we want to hear.  But that’s not our problem.  We are supposed to forgive and leave the judgment to Christ.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37 NIV)

I could go on with verse after verse but they all carry the same message, forgiveness is far sweeter than judgment.  Think of it this way, how would you want others to respond if it was your fanny in the hot seat?  Just a little something to think about today.

*I feel I should add that this post is not about where I stand on what this particular woman did.  I really just wanted to give people a different perspective on how we respond to our fellow brothers and sisters in the midst of a “scandal.” *

 

~Discipline~ June 26, 2013

“That hurt!!”  These words have been shouted from all of my children at one time or another.  My response, “it was supposed to hurt, punishment isn’t meant to be enjoyable.”  Now before you pass judgment, I rarely spank my children.  However, if the crime calls for it, so be it.  I am more prone to take away luxuries or extra activities which garners the response, “that’s so unfair!”  Yep…it is.  But how well would my children and yours turn out if they were never held accountable for their behavior? What kind of adults would they become?

Then there is the discipline we receive from God as his children.  

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes each one He accepts as his child.”

(Hebrews 12:5-6)

It is the same with our heavenly Father as it is with parents.  Discipline is given out of love, not as a form of torture!  It is meant to better us and train us in how we should live.  It hurts, it feels unfair, but it is necessary.  Don’t let God’s discipline set you back.  On the contrary, be encouraged that He loves you enough to care and wants to see you reach your “peaceful harvest of right living.”  Perhaps all He thinks you need is a little “time-out”….don’t argue, just have a seat.timeout-chair

 

~God Is For You~ June 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:27 am
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is-god-for-youWhat do you do when you reach a point where you believe God is able, but you are not so sure that He is willing?  You stand looking at your mountain, knowing that God could hurl it into the sea, but it won’t budge.

In Matthew chapter 9, a father approaches Jesus asking him to heal his son.  He says to Jesus:

“If you can do anything, do it.  Have a heart and help us!”

Jesus said, “If?  There are no ‘ifs’ among believers.  Anything can happen.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe.  Help me with my doubts!”

(vs. 22-24 The Message)

This father obviously believed in Jesus or he wouldn’t have asked for his help in the first place.  But something made him question whether Jesus would be willing to help him.  Maybe as we face our troubles today, we have our own set of doubts.  We’ve prayed to God to help us, so it’s not that we doubt Him, we doubt ourselves.  Could it be that we think the reason we are trapped in an endless struggle is because we’ve let Him down; that we’re not worthy of His mercy?

“That is why the Lord says,“Turn to me now, while there is time.

Give me your hearts.  Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.

 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.”

Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not punish.

Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse.”

(Joel 2:12-14 NLT)

God’s grace and mercy is for everyone.  Not one of us is unworthy to receive it if we will turn our hearts to Him and allow Him to shape and mold us.  Believe with your heart, confess with your mouth and know in your mind that the Lord of all lords is eager to relent today.  Be prepared to receive a blessing instead of a curse.  Walk in victory.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

 

 

~Our Personal Cheerleader~ June 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:55 am
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cheerleadingThis past Saturday, my runner participated in a 5K race in our hometown.  He hadn’t been training much, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out for him, especially in the heat.  This particular course is pretty challenging with lots of curves and one too many uphills and not nearly enough downs.  So I decided to sit this one out and become his cheerleader for the day.

At the mile marker, my momma and aunt met up with him to push him to run his hardest.  At the mile and a half point, I took over giving him breathing tips and encouragement as we ran.

“Momma, my knee hurts.”

“Push through it son.  You’re halfway there at 12 minutes in.  You can do this.”

I patted him on the back and split off to let him run the next mile solo as I used backstreets to get closer to the finish.

Anxiously I waited near the top of the last hill, watching closely for his neon pink socks.  Finally I saw him.  I glanced at my watch and I knew if he pushed it, he was going to set a new personal best.  So I did what any momma would do, I screamed like a lunatic at him to hustle.  As soon as he met up with me, I started sprinting.  I could see how tired he was but I knew he wouldn’t back off if I stayed right with him, making him run harder and talking him through the rest of the way.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

“No, you’re not.  Look at your time, son.  Home stretch….now RUN!!”

My aunt met us near the finish and together, with my momma, hubs and the rest of our kids looking on, we basically raced him for the finish.  The clock flashed 25:08.  He’d done it.  He beat his best time by nearly a minute.  He received a 3rd place trophy in his age division which only made his achievement all the more sweeter.

Afterwards, he told us that he couldn’t have done it without all of us cheering him on and giving him the boost he needed to go faster.  It also helped that my momma had gone along the route with outdoor chalk and wrote “Go Peyton” across the road in a couple of places.  At one point during our final sprint, I had thought to myself, “you’re pushing him too hard” but I didn’t back down.  Seeing how proud he was of himself and hearing him express how thankful he was that we had been there for him made me realize that I had been right to push him.

I know another story about a parent who pushes their child.  The parent is Jesus and each one of us are His children.  Our lives are very much like this 5K course: challenging, full of uphill climbs and unexpected turns.  But just like my family and I were there to coach my son through his run, Jesus is right by our sides screaming words of encouragement and driving us to be our very best.  There will be times in each of our lives that we will be exhausted.  We may cry out to God, “I just can’t go on.”  But He will be there to tell us that we can.  He’ll push us beyond what we think we can handle to prove that because of His love for us, He will bring us through to the finish.  Our Father wants to see us succeed and He will do His part to see that we do.  And although He may not use sidewalk chalk to give us encouraging words, He has given us the Scriptures which are full of “cheers” to help us through life’s most difficult struggles.

For Peyton, having his family by his side made him feel empowered.  We can experience that same feeling by “knowing in our knowers” that Jesus is by our sides, screaming “Go (insert your name here)!!!”

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not grow faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31 NLT)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. 

But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33 NIV)

 

~I See You~ June 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:33 am
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“Hey Mommy, when God turns around, can He still see me?”

This was the question proposed by my little Emma.  She is going through a lying phase.   Her daddy and I both have said things along the lines of, “God saw you Emma, even if we did not,” or “you can lie to me, but you can’t lie to God.”  So I am guessing that is what triggered her question.

“Yes, Emma, He can, because He never turns His back to us.  He watches everything we do.  He never sleeps, or rests but is always aware of what His children are up to.”

“Oh.”

I had to giggle at the way she deflated as she said the word.  I believe she was hoping that there was a chance she could pull one over on God while He wasn’t watching, like she does with mommy and daddy.  Now don’t get me wrong, she isn’t malicious with her actions, it’s little things that she’s been dishonest about.

Some grown-ups can act this same way.  Maybe they aren’t committing big sins, just little insignificant sins.   They think God won’t see or He’ll overlook their minor offense because His back is turned so that He can focus on the big sinners.  Well, they’re wrong.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”

(Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

There isn’t one thing that falls unnoticed before God.  He knows all things, sees all things and hears all things.  The fact of the matter is He knows you better than you know yourself so nothing you do surprises Him.  And when you stand before Him one day to give an account for your life, His attention will be solely on you.  It won’t matter that your sin wasn’t as bad as so-and-so’s.  It’s not that God is sitting in Heaven, anxiously waiting for you or me to mess up so He can strike us down.  It is because of His great love for us that He cares about every intricate aspect of our lives.psalm-139-8

 

 

~Quit Or Endure~ June 20, 2013

dont-quit“Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.  Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule…sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things…and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

(Hebrews 10:32-34)

God calls each of us to serve in different ways.  Even when we are walking according to His word & serving Him faithfully, there may be days when we feel like giving up; the struggle is too great & not only can you not see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t even find the tunnel!

So what do you do when you feel like giving up?  When you’ve been stretched to thin, your limit was reached long ago and you have nothing left to give anyone, including yourself?  The way I look at it, you have two options:

1.  Quit- This of course will be the easiest of two.  You can simply throw in the towel and walk
away with what you have left.

2. Endure- This one is going to hurt a little.  Do you know that the word endure means to suffer patiently?!  I don’t know about you, but in this feeble mind the words suffer and patiently should not be allowed to coexist.

However, loving the Lord is not our ticket to a life of ease.  We are subject to the same troubles as those who do not love Him.  The difference is we are not alone in our suffering.

“So do not throw away (your) confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised!”

(Hebrews 10:35-36)

When you feel like quitting, just keep going.  God never gives up on you, so don’t give up on Him!  And here’s the kicker and why I will always choose option #2, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

Please know that I am not trying to downplay the struggles that many of you are facing, I simply want to encourage you not to quit.  Even when it feels as if you can’t take another step, take it.  God may be working on your breakthrough right now and you don’t want to walk away just before your miracle…do you?