Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Don’t Be The Scary “Evangelist”~ May 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:05 am
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IMG_4028Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store for what felt like the bajillionth time this week. As I was dragging my youngest girls through the parking lot, we came up on a couple of older,(respectfully), ladies in what appeared to be an intense conversation. As we got closer, I realized it was one sided and the non-verbal party seemed totally detached, like she couldn’t wait to make her great escape. Just as we started to pass by, Chatty Cathy leans in, so close the other woman could probably smell what she had for breakfast, and hissed “Jesus is coming…” followed by Lord only knows what because I picked up the pace. The poor woman bobbled her head and cut her eyes with a silent plea of “get me out of here”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t contemplating her salvation or where she was going to spend eternity.

On another occasion, also quite recently, we were driving down the road and passed a dude with a megaphone in one hand and a Bible in the other, shoutin’ and shakin’ that Bible like he was about to beat someone with it. He didn’t look like a man who loved the Lord, he looked angry, mean and crazy!

In both instances, I had to shake my head a little as we rushed by. What on earth about cornering someone in a parking lot and literally hissing in their face or screaming like a lunatic at a busy intersection makes someone think they’re winning souls for Jesus?! I was mortified. It is possible to share the love of Christ without trying to scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of people!

I love the way The Message translation words the following verses from 1 Corinthians, (paying special attention to the words in bold):

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (9:19-23)

In my opinion, becoming a servant as it implies here simply means to put someone’s needs above our own. I’m not of the opinion that we can never put ourselves first, doing so would seriously deplete us and prohibit us from doing any good. I do think we can all be aware of the needs of those around us and do our part to alleviate the strains and pressures that are within our means. And instead of screaming and shaking our judgy fingers at people, how about we meet them where they are and try to serve them in a practical manner. To me, trying to understand life from another’s perspective and offering hands-on assistance speaks much louder than a megaphone dripping with hellfire and brimstone. I truly believe that we can never go wrong when we choose love over criticism, judgment or hate. Seeing people who claim Christianity acting a fool in public is nothing new and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. But what we can do is try to be a different kind of Christian, one who is more concerned with loving and helping our brothers and sisters than we are about cramming Scripture and fear down their throats. After all, not everyone will understand a Bible verse but everyone can appreciate a good deed done selflessly.

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~Is That God’s Word or Man’s?~ April 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:33 am
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If you’re going to begin a conversation with “The Lord told me,” you’d better be dern tootin’ you heard right. Those words always put me on high alert. It’s not that I think God cannot or will not speak to us directly, but I realize the weight that comes with making such a proclamation. Either God has something He wants us to hear or the person making that statement wants to us to believe that He does, and it’s not always easily discernible which is the case.

I find it disheartening that anyone would use the name of the Lord in order to get their way. He is not a bargaining chip to be tossed on the table when circumstances are not as one desires. But His name adds a certain power that makes it tempting to use because you know if you do, people are going to listen up.

Many times I have overheard my little girls arguing over something trivial and one will yell, “but Mommy said!” They know that their best chance of winning the argument is by claiming to have someone with more authority on their side. The same case can be made when someone uses God’s name a little too frequently, especially in the midst of a battle.

I took my concerns over this to my husband and he had, yet again, an excellent idea. When someone gives you a message with the preface “God told me,” (or any variation thereof), kindly ask them if they can point you to Scripture that lines up with what they’ve just told you. God will never send you a word that doesn’t line up with His. 

When I was a baby Christian, I was horribly intimidated by people who spoke of God in this manner. I thought, surely they have a direct line to Jesus and I can never measure up so I should hang on their every word and do everything they say. Thankfully, those days are over for me and I have learned to weigh people’s “words” against God’s. I think it would do us all good to take it to prayer anytime we find ourselves in these situations. You do not have to take someone at their word simply because they brought His name into it. It is our responsibility to guard our hearts and minds and prayerfully consider what we allow in.  

 

 

~What is the assignment?~ January 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:31 am
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I’ve been homeschooling the kiddos for just about a month and half. While I believe we are finally beginning to navigate the new waters, every single day, Emma will inevitably ask me “what am I supposed to do?”

Each day I write out their assignments for every subject along with any special instruction needed.  I try to make it so they’re able to be self sufficient, learning to work at their own pace and be held accountable for their class schedule. Each time Emma asks the question that I know is coming, my response is always, “what is the assignment?” She hates that, by the way. She’d much rather I walked over and held her hand, so to speak, giving her direction and correction at every turn because she doubts her ability to do it alone, but I won’t. I want her to do her assignment, as instructed, and go over it with her to see where she still needs improvement and where she excels. She would prefer I do it with her to ensure she is answering each question correctly as she goes.

This morning while reading my devotion from the First Five app, I was reminded of how I do the same thing with my assignments in life. It spoke to me so loudly, I wanted to share with you but my technology-challenged self can’t seem to link it to this page. I can share the image…..

 

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In this short devotion, Lysa shares the story of Moses and his reluctance to approach Pharaoh to let the Lord’s people go. He felt inadequate to handle what felt like a huge assignment. As Lysa points out, “The resistant way Moses responds lets me know he misunderstood his assignment. Moses thought he was to bring enough power in his words to convince Pharaoh. And since his words lacked power before, it’s no wonder he thought this was a terrible strategy. But God never told Moses to bring the power. Moses was simply told to bring the words. Moses’ job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.”

Just like my Emma, it seems we often get caught up in the end result causing us to shift our focus from the task at hand. We center our thoughts around what should happen, allowing doubt to creep in making us question our ability to simply perform the task that’s been given.

I’ll leave you with one final example. Let’s say your assignment is to pray for others. Instead of focusing on the Holy Spirit and what He prompts you to pray, you worry about the impact your words will have on the one you’re praying for. “Will they receive salvation? What if this prayer goes unanswered, will they doubt God? What if my words are lackluster?” You’re assignment isn’t to save them or provide the answer to their prayer, that’s God’s part. You’re job is to pray with sincerity and allow God to speak to them through you.

“Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.” (Prov 3:5-6 ERV)

 

~Hiding~ January 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:24 am
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I’m going to begin this New Year with a confession. Don’t get too excited, nothing really scandalous, just something I’ve refrained from sharing.

I have not been to church since we moved in November. There it is.

I have my reasons, all of which can be argued as insufficient. My main reason, I miss my church and in my mind, no other group of believers can live up to their legacy. I realize how silly that sounds but for those of you who know me and how long it took me to find a church, I’m sure you understand.

Of course now that I’ve opened myself up to think about it, I can see just how unfair I’m being to any potential “new” church. I’ve been closed off to the idea of being close, family close, to another part of the body. My mindset has been like that of a toddler, “I don’t WANT a new church! I want my OLD church!!”

But here we are, looking for where we are going to settle in the next couple of months. I came across a house that on paper, looks perfect for us. In my excitement, I mapped out distances to hubs workplace, our beautiful daughter & her family, the beach….and on a whim, I searched out churches in the vicinity. Upon finding two whose beliefs and mission statements aligned with our home church, I realized just how much I missed it. The feeling of family, safety, hope & unity….I need it back in my life. So as much as I deeply miss my people, this new year needs to be a time of making new connections & finding a place to grow & serve.

So, say a little prayer for us if you will. Pray my old anxieties don’t creep back in & that we find somewhere we can all be plugged in. Thank you, my faithful friends and Happy New Year!

Church should feel like family because we are brothers & sisters in Christ.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Heb 10:25 NLT)

 

~Your Gift is a Gift to You Too~ November 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:43 am
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It’s been two weeks since I’ve sat down to write. Normally I would chastise myself for allowing so much time to pass without doing what I truly feel is part of my calling, but not today. Today I am simply thankful for the opportunity and the gift of writing. Too often I believe we take our gifts for granted, thinking of them as only being beneficial to those we serve. However, this morning as I carved out a few minutes of quiet to let my fingers fly, I realized just how much my gift is a gift to me also.

Sharing my life with you is a blessing to me. Writing gives me the freedom to be gut level honest about my struggles and my victories. While it’s always my hope that it will minister to whoever finds their way to my page, there has never been a post that didn’t speak to me first and inspire me to take stock of my own life. What I realized this morning as I sat curled up under my fleece blanket with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand while the rest of the house was perfectly still was simply this: when I write, I am forced to shut everything else out and focus only on what the Lord has laid on my heart in that moment. And that is the gift.

The last couple of weeks have been busy with our typical commitments mixed in with some major life changes. I was looking at my writing as one more thing I had to do, another obligation, and in all honesty, feeling somewhat bitter about not having the time to fit it in but for the wrong reasons. This morning as I slowly let the words come out, I realized how peace overtakes me in those moments when the only “noise” that seeps in is the sound of my fingers on the keys.

What is your gift? Have you stopped to reflect on how it changes your life? Maybe say this little prayer with me today:

Dear Lord, today I am thankful for the gifts and the talents, both great and small, that you have given me. Help me to see how even while I use them for your glory, they are a blessing to me. In your precious name, Amen. James 1

 

~Set Your Mind~ October 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:15 am
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Yesterday, during a highly agitated moment, I text my friend Julia about my endless frustrations and she sent me the most beautiful (and timely) response: I like these lines from a prayer: “Lord, help us to be: Cheerful when things go wrong; Persevering when things are difficult; Serene when things are irritating.”

Can I get an amen?!

Seeing as how my morning got off to yet another rocky start, I quickly pulled up her message and read it again…and again…and again. Then it dawned on me that the words reminded me very much of one of my favorite verses, Romans 12:12:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)

While I love both her message & this Scripture, some days, (most days), it is far easier said then done. Life just gets in the way! I want to be full of joy and patience and faithfulness but I’m surrounded by things that suck the happy right out of me. But is it not up to you and me to not allow joy-suckers into our lives? Doesn’t the Bible teach us to set our minds on things above instead of things of the earth? In other words, focus on the One who knows all, sees all and can handle all as opposed to focusing on the problems, struggles, negativity, bad moods and overwhelming to do lists.

Today’s message is short and sweet, I almost didn’t bother to share. But I thought, “what if they don’t have a friend like mine to help them set their mind right?” So thanks, Julia, for the prayer that I needed. I hope this message makes the way into the hearts of others, who like me, have allowed a joy-sucker into their lives far too early this morning.

Be blessed….and BE a blessing!

 

~People Pleaser No More~ October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:51 am
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I have recently felt challenged in an area of my life that I have’t had to deal with for quite sometime. I’ve tried to put a word to the emotion and can’t seem to settle on one that fits. I’ve been faced with some hurt that has left me feeling “blah.” And yes, that is the best I can come up with when I think of this particular situation. I am not angry. I don’t feel unforgiveness. I’m not upset. I feel no ill will towards anyone. And yet, I also feel no desire to do anything.

This is an odd predicament to find myself in as I have spent my entire life being a people pleaser. I’ve always struggled with the thought that someone may not like me and have mastered the art of adaptation to fit into whatever mold each person expected of me. But something has changed and it is both liberating and slightly terrifying all at once.

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1Thes 2:4 NLT)

This is where I have missed the mark up until this point. I used to believe that if someone didn’t like me or my opinions, that meant I was failing God. How could I be effective in loving people if I can’t make them love me back?!

I realize now that my thoughts were skewed and misguided. I was naive to think that I could go through life being liked by all. Friends, I’ve had people hate me in response to a choice I made but I’ve also had those who simply didn’t like to be in my company for whatever reason, no explanation. Whereas I used to let it get me down and change my attitude when confronted by someone who was not a fan, I am learning to not let those around me have that much of an impact on how I perceive myself to be. I am imperfect, my word is fallible and at times I am completely unlovable. Even in those weaknesses and the multitude that I could add to the list, I know who I am. My self-worth is no longer hinged on what others say about me or directly to me. I am confident in who God says I am and that is sufficient cause for me to find freedom in the face of adversity.

pleasing people