Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Shame Never Won Anyone Over~ March 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:00 am
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Many years ago when I first decided I was going to start attending church with my young son, my first few encounters were rather unpleasant. I can remember being a nervous wreck walking through the ominous doors wondering if my son and I would be met with stares or welcoming arms. I was rather naïve at 22 years of age and believed what I’d always heard: church is for all people, a place of refuge for the broken. It didn’t occur to me that not all churches felt this way. Time after time, I left feeling worse than I did going on. I was met with disapproving eyes when ladies would ask where my husband was as I hung my head, suddenly ashamed that I was a single mother. I would try smaller churches only to feel that I had invaded someone’s family gathering rather than a church service. So then I tried larger churches only to feel like the shy girl who never got asked to dance. For the longest time I didn’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling that I had heard about church. Instead I felt alone, embarrassed, awkward and completely unwelcome.

Thankfully I found a church that was the polar opposite of every previous experience. Complete strangers welcomed me with warm smiles and open arms. My son was ushered into a class with kids his age and a teacher who respected his reluctance to join in for the first few weeks. Not once did someone ask me where my husband was. I was accepted for who I was with no hesitation, no third degree, no shaming glances….no judgment.

Some people are so quick to throw stones and cast judgment that they are driving people away from the church. How is it that one would think their church attendance affords them the right to scrutinize people’s lives? It’s a very poor representation of Christ, which is what we, the body, are supposed to be.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt7:1-5 The Message)

Some would say never judge another without knowing the whole story. I would say, don’t judge them even when you do have the facts! “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12 ESV) Thankfully, “judge” is not in our job description. We have sinned just as much as the next guy and our only job as a followers of Christ is to love others like Jesus. He cared for the sick, gave to the poor, provided for a widow and spoke with gentleness to a prostitute. As long as you or I busy ourselves with judging others, we will never be effective in bringing lost souls to Christ. If you are using the Word of God to humiliate or degrade another human being, you’re doing it wrong.mercy over judgment

 

 

~God Wants to be Your BFF~ March 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
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“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov 18:24 ESV)

Think of your very best friend. That one person you share EVERYTHING with. They know your past, your present and the dreams you have for your future. You talk about your worries and struggles. You can’t wait to tell them about your triumphs. When you need to cry it out, you have them on speed dial! Y’all are rocking the words of Galatians 6:2….carrying burdens like it’s nobody’s business. Seriously, nothing is off limits with your person.

Smiling yet? Yeah, me too.

I never hesitate to talk with my friend. I will go off on a rant about what’s bothering me with no hesitation. I’ll ask for her opinion on day-to-day issues and life changing things too. It has never crossed my mind that my insignificant stuff may sound whiny to her because we’re friends, and that is what real friends do for one another….they share life. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly and the downright messy.

This morning during my devotion, I came across this Scripture in Philippians:

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have.”(4:6 ERV)

Everything? Seriously? I am guilty of not taking all my needs to the Lord. In my mind, I feel silly bothering the Almighty with my more trivial needs. I picture God sitting on His throne with a backlog of prayer requests and then my seemingly silly need shows up on his desk and he rolls his holy eyes. But, did you know the Bible says He is a jealous God? He wants to be first in our lives. When you have something to celebrate, fuss over, cry and scream about…He’d like for you to do that with Him.

Here is my struggle, when I do this with my friend, I can see her face and read the empathy in her expressions. I can hear her voice when she offers feedback. If I need a hug, her touch is tangible. Not so with God. Sometimes I find it difficult to pour out my heart to someone whose voice is not audible to me or whose embrace I cannot feel. I’m just being real here.

This is why it is so important to stay in His Word. It offers us the encouraging words we need to hear. The depth of His love for us leaps off the pages. The Bible give us understanding and peace in our hearts. Even if we can’t see God’s face, we can feel that He cares for us by the promises that overflow from Scripture.

“And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.” (Phil 4:7 ERV)

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have friends, He does. He knows that we need each other to do life. That is why we are instructed to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Heb 10:24-25 ESV) However, He wants the number one spot, the Best Friend Forever title.

best friends