Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~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.  

 

 

~Show Me A Sign~ July 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 am
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Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads feeling like you haven’t the faintest idea which way to go?

You could easily continue on the same path you’ve been on, nothing wrong with that, or you could take a hard right into the unknown. The trouble isn’t so much what you should do, it’s feeling confident that it’s what you are supposed to do.

When you choose to live your life following Jesus, making any change can be intimidating. What if it’s not God’s will for your life and you do it anyway? I know I personally fear the ramifications of making the wrong choice. It’s not that I picture the Lord sitting on His throne, eagerly waiting for an opportunity to thump me on the head when I misstep. It’s more of a reverential fear of wanting to walk in His will for my life rather than chasing after my own selfish desires. This is where the real struggle begins, how can I ever be sure that it’s the Lord speaking to me?

Recently I reached out to my aunt whom I often go to for advice. She has a way of giving a different perspective and forcing me to think things through from every angle. She encouraged me to ask God for a sign and had this to add “You’ll know it when you get it. And if you think it’s a sign, but you’re not sure — ask for another one. God is patient that way. He too, wants you to be sure.”

Anytime something speaks to me, I go to scripture for a reference.

Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz:“Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” (Isaiah 7:10 NLT)

Well, there that is. I am a visual learner, most assuredly, so it makes sense that I would want some sort of sign when making life changes. The Lord created me so it’s not as if this is some big shock to Him. God is not insulted by my request for signs and He is a patient God who loves me and has my best interest at heart.

If you find yourself in a place of indecision today, take the words of Psalm 37 to heart:

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)

Delight yourself in the Lord first and foremost. Worship Him in the waiting. Ask Him for direction and watch expectantly for the signs you are seeking. He is faithful, every single time.

 

~Leave A Message After The Beep?~ June 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:45 am
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Do you ever have one of those “aha” moments, when something suddenly clicks and you get it? I have them all the time. Sometimes it’s a nice and pleasant feeling where life just makes sense and other times it feels like I’ve been run down by an 18 wheeler! Sunday during the message, I had that squashed by a truck feeling.

The sermon was about how God answers prayers and at some point, I wrote down “If you want someone to answer you, don’t you have to call them first?” I can’t recall what Pastor said to trigger that thought but I’m guessing The Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something.

If you want or need something from the people in your circle, you have to go to them with your request. As much as we’d like to believe at times, no one can read our minds. In order for us to receive an answer, we have to first ask a question. Doesn’t that sound so simple?

While we know God to be omniscient, He does ask that we bring our petitions to Him in prayer.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. (Phil 4:6 AMP)

I have found myself to be guilty of waiting for God to answer when I haven’t bothered to ask the first thing of Him. I allow my mind to settle into “God knows my wants and needs” and get lax in my prayer life. God wants a relationship with me. He wants to talk to me. He is never off duty. If I call Him, there is no answering machine informing me that my call will have to wait. He sits at the ready to hear my pleas and takes pleasure in listening to the desires of my heart.

Those five little words are all the reason you need to pour your heart out to the Lord. He’s listening, are you speaking?

 

~Tempted By ….~ December 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
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Here we are at yet another very busy season for so many of us. We’ve got Christmas parties to attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, and so on and so on. Granted these are all things that I LOVE to do, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also made a commitment to myself to maintain some sort of physical activity during the winter months when in years past I have allowed myself to slack off….way, way off!

This morning I nearly talked myself out of hitting the gym. Lord knows I needed to go because I am meaner than a two-headed snake when I don’t exercise (yet another reason I decided to keep it up this winter instead of terrorizing my family). But my sweet mini-me has randomly been getting sick in the middle of the night. All you momma’s out there know that equals no sleep, tons of laundry and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the carpet-bleh! So again, I almost didn’t workout this morning because a steamy cup of coffee and my cozy blankie sounded way more tempting. Then I remembered one of my favorite inspirational quotes for days like this.workout

True story.

This busy season has caused me to neglect other important areas as well-this blog, another website I write for, my precious small group-in other words, my ministries! The more I reflected on my little workout motto, the more I realized it reminded me of a Scripture that applied to my spiritual struggles:

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41 ESV)

Not all temptation is blaringly obvious nor does it all result in “big sin.” This morning I was tempted by comfort to forgo the important task of taking care of my body. I was tempted by laziness to not write this post because my DVR is full and I kinda wanted to veg and fall into a tv coma. While all temptations don’t look the same, what they do have in common is they are meant to distract you from something more important.

How about a quick prayer for us all today:

“Lord, I ask you today to center our hearts and minds around you. Let us not fall so easily into the trap of busyness. Help us to prioritize according to Your Word so that we won’t be lead astray by the numerous distractions we encounter each day. And when temptation comes, help us to see it for what it is and give us the strength and discernment to choose wisely. Amen.”

 

~Too Fast-paced To Fast~ August 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
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It’s been a little cray-cray in the Rutledge house over the last week. (For those not fortunate enough to have teens in the house, cray-cray means crazy. You’re welcome.)

The kids started back to school, way too early but I won’t even go there! The house is “decorated” like an office supply store with stacks of notebooks, folders, etc, etc stacked on every available surface. Then we have these piles of laundry that aren’t making it to their proper destination. Apparently the ability to move clothes from the floor to the laundry room becomes an impossible feat when one returns to school. Beds aren’t being made either because you know they just don’t have those precious moments to spare in the morning! It’s either brush the teeth or do their chores and proper hygiene trumps cleanliness. To further complicate things, we’ve all been trying to get acclimated to our jam packed schedules for the Fall without losing our minds and it’s proving to be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. 

So yesterday I got stuff done & quite frankly I was feeling pretty dang good about myself. I was a baking, cooking, cleaning, clothes washing machine. I channeled my inner Martha Stewart & Betty Crocker simultaneously so you can just imagine the level of fabulous at which I was operating. Then evening hit and all that multi-tasking mojo left the scene. I did manage to get the kids to church but I had missed an errand or two that needed to be done prior to the start of today, so drop and go was the theme for the night. Miraculously, I made it back in time to pick them up and was chatting with another mom, that’s when it happened. 

I had completely forgotten that our church started 21 days of fasting and prayer on Sunday. You guessed it, hadn’t fasted a thing and this innocent conversation with a friend made me sick to my stomach. In all the busyness, I’d neglected something important. All my feelings of “yay me” vanished faster than the banana bread I’d whipped up earlier that day. 

Last night I lay in bed frantically racking my brain, trying to think of what to give up and what specific prayer to focus on for the remainder of the time. I was feeling incredibly guilty about my forgetfulness to the point that it was distracting. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit and was reminded that this was not what a time of fasting is to be about. God can see straight to my heart and it was obvious that I was being driven by guilt and not a desire to hear from Him.

Discipline received, moving on.

My time of fasting and prayer will not be wasted feeling like a bad Christian because I missed the “start” date. The entire point of this exercise is to draw closer to God and make prayer a priority not to berate oneself for missing the mark. There’s no room for guilt in a heart that longs to serve a loving God. 

Prayers for my friends as we go through this together, focusing on our deepest needs and waiting expectantly to hear a response.

“We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!” “I will tell you why!” I responded. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap, and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “

(Isaiah 58:3-9 NLT)

 

~My Life as a Ring Master~ April 24, 2014

I have oftentimes described my life as a circus.  Having 5 kids, this is a pretty spot on description as I tend to have to be in 3 places at the same time on any given day.

These last couple of weeks have exhausted me to the point of having little to no time to write and it is seriously weighing on me!  I get a little moody & snippy when I’m run down and even more so when I feel like I have to let something I love go to the wayside to make room for yet one more thing for someone else.  Man, I sound like a selfish whiny-pants, right?!

The reality is, my right now is only a season and that simple phrase has become my mantra, “this is only a season, this is only a season, THIS IS ONLY A SEASON!!!”

Sleep deprivation, overcrowded calendars and lack of me time can bring even the “super-i make everything from scratch-have boundless amounts of energy-mom” down.  I’m sure you can imagine what it does to this “super simple-poptart slingin-my butt is draggin without my coffee-mom”!!  So this morning, before I even sat up in bed, I prayed this little prayer, “Lord, help me today to focus on you and not my hectic schedule.  Remind me that this life is a gift, even in the busyness, and I should act accordingly and not like a bratty two-year old.  And one more thing Lord, give me the strength to perform each and every task I have committed myself to with excellence as unto you for it IS you who deserves all the credit.  Amen”

To my fellow overworked, underpaid, totally exhausted, baggy eyed mommas, I salute you.  We can do this for we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.  (It doesn’t hurt to toss in a pot of coffee and some nutter butters to nudge things along, just sayin’)  May today be abundantly blessed, productive and our eyes be open to the beauty of the chaos.  Now, go do this thing!being a mom

 

 

~Prayer From Paul~ March 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:31 am
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Some days, I question why God has placed any trust in my ability to be a mommy.  I have a very active toddler, a 6 year old diva, two pre-teens trying to find their way and one teenager who knows it all…sounds like the making of a good joke, doesn’t it?!  The problem with this vast range of ages is that every day presents a new parenting challenge.  Somehow, I am supposed to be able to transition from overseeing timeouts, to monitoring social media, to talking about sex, to navigating peer pressure and back to time out corner to release my prisoner.

I’m not gonna lie, it gets incredibly overwhelming.  How in the world is it possible for my husband and I to do this kid-rearing thing without ruining them or going bonkers in the process?!

One word, prayer.

It is very easy for me to get wrapped up in the moment and let my mean momma come out when my kids disappoint me.  I want to throw out not-so-helpful words rather than taking the time to allow God to give me the words that I should speak.

I want to be effective with the things I do and say to my kids.  The truth is, most kids only pay attention for a brief time, so if you are rambling on, they tuned you out after about the first 5 minutes.  In order to make that tiny little window of opportunity count, we should be giving careful attention to how we choose to deliver a valuable life lesson.  To ensure that we are giving our absolute best attempt at this parenting thing, we need to be in prayer for ourselves and for our children.

While I pray that God would help me to control my fleshly side that sometimes wants to trade in my precious babes for billy goats, years ago I determined that this would be my prayer for my kids:

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NLT)

My desire is that we all would continue to move forward in our faith.  It is definitely a process of growing and maturing together, learning from one another how to be Jesus guys & gals and conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel while living in a world that is going to hell in a hand basket.  To achieve this goal, we must remain in the Word and continually seek guidance as opposed to going at it in our own stubborn way.  andystanley

 

~Parents Need to PARENT~ March 10, 2014

I have determined that middle school is where sweet little kids turn into 3-headed dragons.  The chatter that has been circulating among parents and what little I can drag out of my own children would even make unsavory characters blush.  These kids are 11-14 years old and getting away with things that I didn’t even think about until college!

  •  Foul language is considered part of normal conversation.
  • “Twerking,” is the new craze at the dances…thank you, Miley Cyrus for your contribution to society.
  • CHILDREN are making out during school and some have already engaged in sexual activities.

Are you kidding me?!

So what’s a freaked out momma supposed to do when her kids have no other option than public school?!  How can I ensure that my kids can be stuck in the middle of these atrocious environments and come out unscathed & still living for Jesus?

Proverbs 28 is riddled with verses that we parents can pour into and pray over our children.

When your child is surrounded by a group doing all kinds of wrong and is unsure what to do:

“The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” (vs 1)

During school, when they see everybody getting by with doing whatever they want as opposed to what they should be doing:

“Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.” (vs 14)

“The blameless will be rescued from harm, but the crooked will be suddenly destroyed.” (vs 18)

If you have little disciples like we do, anxious to share the Word of God but fearful of rejection, who may be tempted to join the masses:

“Those who lead good people along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the honest will inherit good things.” (vs 10)

What happens when their closest friends turn from their church-upbringin’ roots and decide to embrace the false teaching that is attacking them from every direction:

“Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.” (vs 7)

“It makes good sense to obey the Law of God, but you disgrace your parents if you make friends with worthless nobodies.” (same verse, CEV translation)

I am so utterly disappointed in the job that parents are doing these days.  They are succumbing to the pressures of this world by allowing their children to set the standards and the rules instead of demanding a certain level of respect and personal integrity.  These children that are acting out in public are belittling themselves.  God created us all to be spectacular and by behaving with so little self-respect and absolutely no dignity they are falling well below their potential for greatness.

I’m sorry about the soap box, I am just horrified at the downward spiral that are young people are falling into.  We can only expect so much from their educators and Sunday school teachers, at some point, Mom & Dad need to step it up a notch.  For those of you who may be living inside a bubble, oblivious to the hell your kids are raising when they walk out your door, I pray that the Lord would thump you on the head and open your eyes!  I can only pray that we are doing a decent enough job with ours because I know they are just as susceptible to temptation as the next kid and boy have my kids messed up at times.  So I am seeking the Lord on my behalf too.  I want my kids to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Mom & Dad, Nana & Grandad…it is time to hit your knees to protect your babies.steering

That is all.

 

~Truth in Love~ February 19, 2014

truth in loveI have always struggled with the concept of giving other adults “correction” in brotherly love.  Mostly because it makes me feel uncomfortable.  I know that my past is speckled with mistakes of various kinds and that alone makes me feel ill-equipped to lead others away from the transgressions that they currently find themselves knee deep, or worse.

However, we are not called to live a life of comfort.  The Bible does instruct those of us who are led by the Spirit to restore the ones who have strayed in an attitude of humility.  This is where we desperately need discernment!  If we see someone struggling in an area that the Bible makes clear can serve as a stumbling block in their life, we need to take pause before opening our mouths.  First of all, we need to seek the Lord’s face because we should never move forward in counseling without Him.  Secondly, if we still feel the pull to approach them, we need to spend time in the Word looking for Scriptures that will point them back on the path towards righteousness.  Lastly, we should be in prayer that the Lord would soften their hearts to be receptive to the words that He is giving us to speak to them.

If we don’t make certain that we are responding to the Lord’s leading in these very sticky situations, we can be met with some unwelcome responses.

  • They may turn the tables on you:  “Who are you to say one word to me when you yourself used to do the very same thing?!”
  • Perhaps they will point the blame elsewhere:  “Well, so-and-so does it too and I don’t see you getting in their business!”
  • Worst of all, they may attempt to justify their actions:  “I don’t feel convicted about it and it’s not harming anyone else, so how about you just back off?!”

Proverbs 9 warns us:

“If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.  So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.  But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it!  Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.” (Vs. 7-9 The Message)

These words are basically telling us to “know our audience.”  It will do us no good, nor the person in question, if they are closed off to the Word of God.  Only those who seek to honor God with their lives will be open to loving & gentle instruction.

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)

I don’t believe that anyone is a lost cause, however the words of Titus instruct us to know when to step back.  It is not our job to “save” anyone.  We can point them towards the One who can and trust that God will do what only He is able.

 

~Fast or Diet?~ January 16, 2014

prayer and fasting“I haven’t lost a pound since I started this fast 2 weeks ago!  My husband has dropped the weight, but not me.  So I quit.”

**little disclaimer- to my church family who is currently fasting, this was not a comment from someone in our congregation, relax**

Color me dumbfounded.

The last time I checked, fasting was not the latest weight loss craze but a means of connecting with God.

The more I thought on this comment, the more I realized that surely this is not the only person to ever use fasting as a way to reach their goal weight.  And I guess when you think about it, some diet plans do call for you to abstain from certain foods, such as sweets or high calorie beverages.  But that’s not the kind of fasting we’re talking about here.

In the simplest explanation I can think of, biblical fasting means to give something up for a set period of time and replace it with bible study and prayer.  I’ll give a couple of examples.

You decide to fast breakfast for 2 weeks.  During those 2 weeks, you would dedicate “breakfast time” to reading your Bible, talking to God or simply being still in His presence.

Maybe you opt to shut off your electronics for a week.  Rather than tune in to your fav show and tune out what’s happening around you, you decide to focus in on God and seek His face.

If I am to be totally honest, fasting is still somewhat new to me too.  I wasn’t raised exercising this particular discipline so I am learning as I go…key is, I am willing to learn.  Based on the comment stated above, I wanted to share with others who may have a desire to fast but are unsure how to proceed or maybe don’t understand the concept behind it.

I have attached two articles that our Pastor has shared with us that I feel are very informative on the ins and outs of Biblical fasting.   Again, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if you have questions, I’m willing to help you dig through the Word to find them!  Blessings to all.

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/7-steps-to-fasting/index.htm

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/index.htm

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

(Matthew 6:16 NLT)