Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Weakened By Grace~ July 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:19 am
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Over the last few weeks, our praise team has been sitting down in between services and sharing bits of our testimonies with the group. It’s been incredible to hear the diversity in our backgrounds and yet God has placed us together to serve Him in one accord.

During this process, I’ve been reminded once again of the importance of sharing your story with others.

aa656b0df16cf04f58ca212c0ba41bcdFor just a moment, think of your church from the perspective of a newcomer. When they come through the door, they’re met with smiling greeters & a hospitality team 
serving up a delicious cup of coffee. From there, they enter the sanctuary where the worship team leads the congregation in songs about God’s grace & redemptive power followed by the Pastor bringing a word that is simultaneously corrective & uplifting. Service draws to a close and the altars open for prayer. They watch from their seat as people kneel to pray and the prayer team moves in to intercede on the behalf of others.  As they leave the building, their mind fills with insecurities. “I can’t fit in here, everyone has it all together & I am a mess.”

But when you share your testimony, people are allowed to see where you came from to reach where you are right now. It shows the hand of God in your life & gives a new hope for theirs. 

I will say this, sharing your testimony can be exhausting.

This last Sunday was my turn to speak to the table and after 10 minutes, I was spent. Not because I am still bound by my past, quite the contrary. When I share what God has brought me through, the realization of His restoration in my life makes me weak, every single time. I am overwhelmed at the number of times He protected me, before I knew Him or had any desire to seek Him.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”- and I am the worst of them all. BUT GOD had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT)

 

~Reward now…or Later?~ February 25, 2014

lose soulDoes it bother anyone else when you look around and see the people who are living like hell thriving while the godly seem to struggle?  This used to be a real issue for me in my early years as a Christian.  I would basically fuss at God.  “Why is that heathen excelling while my friend who loves you is barely scrapping by?  Lord, are you even paying attention?!”

“The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good….Even hell holds no secrets from God- do you think he can’t read human hearts?”  (Proverbs 15:3 & 11 NLT/Message)

These verses were incredibly freeing for me.  I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the why behind it all, but a wise man, also known as my husband, once shared a profound truth with me: “The wicked are receiving their reward now while ours is being stored up for us in eternity.  It’s one of the tricks of the enemy.”  I would much rather struggle for a little while in this life in order to receive my blessings in Heaven than live as the world calls blessed now and spend eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.

“It’s better to obey the Lord and have only a little, than to be very rich and terribly confused.” (Proverbs 15:16 CEV)

While it may appear to those of us on the outside looking in, that the one who is successful has it all, we haven’t a clue what demons they are dealing with behind closed doors.  I wrote this poem about a year ago and shared it on this blog last May.  It is relevant to this post, so I am sharing once again.

The Rich Man

I know a man who has it all;

big house, nice car, designer clothes.

He’s attained success in his career,

good luck follows him wherever he goes.

So why is it that his demeanor

is down-cast, sullen and morose?

Could it be that beneath all the accolades

lies a secret that nobody knows?

While wealth and good fortune are his for the taking,

his spiritual life; a disaster in the making.

He gives no recognition to the God

who gave him a firm place to stand.

God deserves none of the credit;

he is a self-made man.

His days are filled with good times and laughter

but what about what happens after?

In the quiet of darkness, he lies alone.

Inside the recesses of his mind

where “light” has never shone.

For even though he has it all, there is one thing he lacks.

A relationship with his Creator

has slipped right through the cracks.

Life without our Lord and Savior is really no life at all

So the rich man isn’t actually rich

for he remains broken from the fall.

So do not envy my friend, the rich man

for his riches shall all pass away.

His achievements will prove to him useless

before the Lord on Judgment Day.

For the one who submits that God is Lord over all, our pain lasts but a moment, while our joy is everlasting.  For the one who seeks earthly possessions over heavenly gain,  “you must be humbled before you can be honored.”  (Proverbs 15:33 ERV)

*We are at our halfway point of the Book of Proverbs study.  Let us continue with diligence and a a willingness to let the Lord reveal new wisdom to us.

 

~The Rich Man~ May 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:07 am
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richI know a man who has it all;

big house, nice car, designer clothes.

He’s attained success in his career,

good luck follows him wherever he goes.

So why is it that his demeanor

is down-cast, sullen and morose?

Could it be that beneath all the accolades

lies a secret that nobody knows?

While wealth and good fortune are his for the taking,

his spiritual life; a disaster in the making.

He gives no recognition to the God

who gave him a firm place to stand.

God deserves none of the credit;

he is a self-made man.

His days are filled with good times and laughter

but what about what happens after?

In the quiet of darkness, he lies alone.

Inside the recesses of his mind

where “light” has never shone.

For even though he has it all, there is one thing he lacks.

A relationship with his Creator

has slipped right through the cracks.

Life without our Lord and Savior is really no life at all

So the rich man isn’t actually rich

for he remains broken from the fall.

So do not envy my friend, the rich man

for his riches shall all pass away.

His achievements will prove to him useless

before the Lord on Judgment Day.

Poem by Valerie Rutledge

” And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment”

(Hebrews 9:27 NLT)

 

~It is OK to Say No~ April 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:59 am
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no-newThis goes out to all my fellow over-doers out there…you know who you are!  The word “no” is not in your vocabulary except when applied to yourself.  You say “yes” to every task someone asks of you.

  • You sit on three different boards and offer to chair all special committees.
  • You are the room parent for each of your children.
  • You head up every fundraiser at work, school and church.

This list could seriously go on forever so I will spare you.

However, when your mind, body or soul screams for rest, you give it a resounding no.  I would venture to say, that like myself, your people-pleasing tendencies make you feel riddled with guilt whenever you take time for yourself.

The Lord has dealt with me quite often on this matter and more times than not, His voice sounds eerily similar to my husband’s.

Allow me to share with you some Biblical truths as to why you should occasionally so “no” to everyone else and give yourself a “yes”!

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones.”

(Psalm 127:2 NLT)

I am not saying you should walk in to your place of employment today and quit on the spot!  We are responsible for providing for our families.  What I am saying, is that you have to set boundaries.  It was never God’s intention for us to spend every waking hour slaving away for “the man.”  If you are overworked, (and no doubt underpaid), allow yourself time off.  Do not be consumed with worry over where your next meal will come from.  If God provides for all the animals of the earth, do you not think He will do the same for us whom He loves more than every living creature?

“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.””

(Mark 6:31 NIV)

When you are constantly surrounded by other people who “need” something from you, it can be utterly exhausting.  This is especially true for those of us with young children and the many who are caring for aging parents.  You can get so wrapped up in taking care of them, that you deprive yourself of even the most basic needs.  It is good to have a compassionate heart that desires to help your fellow brothers and sisters and provide care for your family, but you must be careful that it is not to the detriment of your own well-being.  Mark out some quiet “you-time” on your calendar and make it a priority.  When the time comes, don’t allow yourself to make lame excuses as to why you cannot keep the appointment.  You wouldn’t dare cancel on anyone else and you are just as important.

“There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.  For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.  So let us do our best to enter that rest.  But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”

(Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT)

Even God himself took a day off!  What more reason do you and I need?!  Follow in His supreme example and observe the Sabbath.  It is a guarantee that if you continue to work at a break-neck pace, you will fall.  Whereas if you give your mind, body and soul the rest that it craves, you will perform at a higher level on the days you must labor.  Just as physical rest is necessary for your bodies to function properly, spiritual and emotional rest is a must in order to refresh your souls so that you will not become run down in your service to God and others.

One final Scripture to meditate on when you find yourselves saying “no” to your own needs a little too often:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Resting in God is more than just sleep; it is a peace that comes from knowing that He has offered to carry our burdens in exchange for His.  It’s the hope of our salvation that renews our strength.  It is in the promise of His return that we can endure the trials of this life and Still. Find. Rest.

 

~The Day Jesus Wrecked My Life~ April 2, 2013

I will never forget how eight years ago on a Saturday night in May I took the longest walk of my life.  It was not a great distance that I had to cover, but a life altering choice that was signified in the few short steps I took.

I was in a tiny country church listening to an old Pentecostal preacher pour out his heart.  It was the last night of revival and I was on the edge of my seat.  You see I had been visiting different churches for a few months at that point.  I was trying to find a place where I belonged.  I kinda’ knew who Jesus was but I hadn’t completely sold out to Him, yet.  In the middle of the message, I was no longer listening to the preacher on fire for God.  I couldn’t focus on what he had to stay for the voice in my head that kept repeating, “It’s time.”  Time for what?  Tears filled my eyes and started to spill down my cheeks.  What in the world was the matter with me?  I could not get a grip.  I sobbed while my shoulders shook in the very front row, visible, I am sure, from the back of the sanctuary.  Then I heard the pastor make the call for salvation.  There was the voice again, “Get up, right now, it’s time.”  It was that very moment that I made my way to an old wooden alter.  With a wad of tissues in one hand and mascara smeared under my eyes, I raised my face to Heaven with lifted hands.  That old preacher led me through a prayer that had me confessing with my mouth and believing with my heart that Jesus was Lord.  That he died for me and paid the price for my sins.  I admitted that I was nothing but a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.

I walked out those weathered doors a changed woman…well, almost.  I knew I had to make some serious changes.  There were some old habits that needed to be broken.  I would have to say good-bye to a few friends, who up until then had a powerful influence over my life, and not of the good persuasion.  This was going to hurt.  I did not want to start over.  My past was like an old worn sweatshirt, comfortable and safe.  Yet even in the “newness” of my faith, I was aware that the changes were required to live this life in a way that would honor and please the Lord.

So I allowed Jesus to turn my life upside down.  I did find comfort in the first four verses from John chapter 15:

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.  He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.  And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.  Live in me.  Make your home in me just as I do in you.  In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”

branchvine The Message

If you are at the beginning of your walk with the Lord, remember that the pruning process, while painful, is absolutely necessary and it is ongoing.  We are all a work in progress.  Perfection will never be reached on this side of Heaven.