The Bully of Bullies -- in the midst of Anxiety

The Bully of Bullies -- in the midst of Anxiety

In the midst of anxiety and panic, we can be sure that our Enemy is alive and well.

And so in our last post (When Anxiety Assails), I shared 1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…

You can be sure that when God is doing something in our lives, the devil is always helping the weakness of our flesh to draw us in the opposite direction. So I’m re-sharing a previous post to encourage us to be on the alert. No matter our circumstances, our Enemy will seek to distract from God and His deliverance every time.

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When Anxiety Assails

When Anxiety Assails

When I get really afraid, I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God.
What can mere mortals do?
Psalm 56:3-4 MSG
I’ve always been prone to anxiety. As far back as I can remember, I have been nervous about all kinds of things — quizzes, tests, performances of any kind, up coming unfamiliar events, putting my face in water, amusement park rides, and other “stupid stuff.”

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Living from a Reservoir

Living from a Reservoir

You cannot impart what you do not possess!

This was a favorite saying of Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary.

John & I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Hendricks' teaching in the 1980's at DTS. No matter the class, whether it was "Bible Study Methods" or the "Christian Home," this profound little truth would punctuate the "Prof's" lectures.

In my last post, we talked about Teaching from a Reservoir.  If Dr. Hendricks' statement is true, then teaching (or whatever we are doing) from a reservoir presupposes LIVING FROM THE RESERVOIR -- the reservoir of truth in relationship with Him who is the TRUTH.

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Teaching from a Reservoir

Teaching from a Reservoir

…Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

In the early fall of 2000, John & I were blessed by a visit from Dr Marvin Mayer and his wife Shirley. Dr. Mayer had just retired from many years of teaching Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  John & I were students at MBI in the 1970′s.  Dr. Mayer fast became one of my favorite professors and “spiritual father,” with a continuing relationship over the years.

On this particular visit, I got up early so I could walk with Dr M in the morning before he and Shirley left to return home to Illinois.  As we walked and talked, he spoke of his years of teaching and made a statement that grabbed my attention:  “I teach from a reservoir.”

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Remembering Stone #8: No More "He Loves Me ... He Loves Me Not"

Remembering Stone #8: No More "He Loves Me ... He Loves Me Not"

No more God loves me, God loves me not.
No more “spiritual breathing” to be filled with the Spirit.
No more daily, “in detail” confession of sin (and even stuff that wasn’t sin but just negative thoughts and emotions) in order to get daily forgiveness and be “in fellowship.”
No more scrutinizing every jot and tittle of my behavior so that God will hear my prayers.

NO MORE! No more … no more!

I threw it all out — my grade-school catechism memorization at St Matthews; my Religion award …

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"We become like what we focus on!" -- Expectations Transformed!

"We become like what we focus on!" -- Expectations Transformed!

First posted 2011
LBI...Long Beach Island, New Jersey -- sun, surf, and sweet memories.  Home of Surf City and Barnegat Lighthouse!   LBI was a favorite place for us Renners to vacation in our growing up years in the 1950's & 60's -- not every year but as many years as our family of 6 (and later 7) kids and 2 parents, living on one income, could afford.

It was such a beloved place that my brother Conrad and family bought a beach house there in 1998...within a block from the beach, no less!

One year, when our kids were grown but not yet married and out of the nest, we had the most wonderful Renner family reunion at LBI.  Conrad scouted out other houses on his street that were for rent. And so several of us rented for the same week, and we all (along with in-laws, friends, and pets) descended upon that little beach community.

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We Become Like What We Focus On!

We Become Like What We Focus On!

… God has been teaching me this truth over and over again. It reminds me to return again and again to sharpen my focus on the Lover of my Soul, the One Who dwells within me and calls me to Rest in Him.

Let’s return again to join Jesus as He teaches a crowd in Galilee, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 11. (See An Invitation to Rest Today)

… Maybe you are exhausted…worn out, burdened by the should’s and ought to’s, never feeling like enough is enough – wounded, frightened, lonely, depressed … a mess: physically, relationally, and most of all …spiritually. 

Or maybe you are burdened by your past choices, and you never feel like you are getting it right. Maybe you are desperate because you’ve given up. Everything in your Christian life has become dead and heavy.

Hear the words of Jesus to you personally:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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Resting While You Work Today

Resting While You Work Today

I’ve always been a worker-bee. Well, perhaps not as a child. As an adult, though, and especially as a Christian, I’ve been a worker-bee. I found great pleasure in life by accomplishing a goal, but there was a driven-ness in this way of living. I’ve discovered that being a worker-bee is especially dangerous, spiritually. I’ve lived for a long time under the yoke of what I call "to-do list" Christianity. What a bondage. Self-effort doesn't work when it comes to doing what only God can do,which is anything of any spiritual value. That's why I love the Lord's invitation to the weary, burdened folk who followed Him:

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An Invitation to Rest Today

An Invitation to Rest Today

Ah! REST...what a glorious word! I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it. And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads. Single folks need it; workers need it; retirees do, too..Even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially in the midst of the frenetic-ness of no-sleep sleepovers!)

I remember as a mom of an infant how I longed for rest, praying my crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night baby would just fall quietly back to dreamland. Or my napping toddler would stay napping so I could lie prostrate for just a few more moments (Please, God!) And now, even as a senior retired adult, that beautiful rest calls my name more often than not in the midst of my afternoons. So I often take to my overstuffed couch and doze as I watch the old westerns from my childhood.

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Remembering Stones Intermission: Recap and Rest

Remembering Stones Intermission: Recap and Rest

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for following along with me as I’ve reminisced and shared about God’s work in my life … revealing Himself, concealing Himself for a time, and then bursting forth in truth and “glory.” I hope that these reflections have provoked your own remembering. God is always working. But we are often blind to His movements because of our distractedness.

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Remembering Stone #7: The Smile that Destroyed my Religion and More

Remembering Stone #7: The Smile that Destroyed my Religion and More

If you have been following along with my spiritual journey thus far, you may recall my “aha moment” when I heard the gospel clearly preached by those fellow students at the University of Arizona back in the late 1960’s (Stone #4). It wasn’t that I hadn’t known or believed the truth of the Gospel: that I was a sinner and that Jesus died to pay for my sin. I knew, believed, and wholeheartedly embraced it all! I even theoretically knew and “believed” that God loved me and everyone else in the world. The surprising thought of that gospel preached to me in Tucson through those lovely students was that the good news was …

ALL a free gift, not earned by works but received by grace through faith!

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Remembering Stone #6: The Dark Night of My Soul

Remembering Stone #6: The Dark Night of My Soul

You search the Scriptures … {they] point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

You would think that after having had such amazing teachers and mentors at Moody Bible Institute and after receiving such a storehouse of Biblical and spiritual knowledge there (Remembering Stone #5), the Christian life would have been a breeze for me … joy-filled and exciting!

And it was exciting and joy-filled … for awhile. Let me tell you about it.

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I Have a Father

I Have a Father

… you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

I know Fathers’ Day has passed, but I just can’t get past this song.

As the Patterson Park worship team sang this heart-grabbing reminder of my True Father on Fathers’ Day, the moving music and lyric grabbed my grieving soul.

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Lost my "Power Source"

Lost my "Power Source"

The other day, I was preparing for my young guests to come for a visit … for lunch and games. As I scoped out the areas where we would be eating and playing, I realized that I’d better “put up” my laptop and unplug its power cord from the outlet right behind the lunchtime table.

So I closed my laptop and placed it off to the side on the kitchen counter. Then I unplugged the cord and rolled up the wire and put it “somewhere on top of something.” (Can you relate?) I remembered coming across the rolled up “power block” on top of “that something” before my young friends came.

But I did a stupid thing — I moved it!

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A Spiritual Father: Abba's Child

A Spiritual Father: Abba's Child

We are not cowed into timidity by death and life. Were we forced to rely on our own shabby resources we would be pitiful people indeed. But the awareness of Christ's present risenness persuades us that we are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own.

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.

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Remembering my Dad

Remembering my Dad

I'm so thankful for the man that GOD chose to be my earthly father. I wish I had had more time to get to know him as a person. He died young ... just 60! Twelve years on earth less than I have had to this point.

Here are my reflections of my dad from a post 2 years ago. I hit a grief that caught me by surprise:
An Unexpected Grief, first posted November 2016…

There I was, sitting at the stop light. All of a sudden, an overwhelming grief ... not primarily for my mom who died an exact year before, almost to the day. No, for my dad ... who had died in 1983 right before Thanksgiving.

But why am I grieving now ... why this year, when I hadn't thought of him at this time other years?

I tried to track my train of thought and realized that my thoughts had gone from grieving over my mistakes in my parenting to the difficulties in my own childhood home.

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A Spiritual Father: Abide in Christ in Faith-filled Surrender

A Spiritual Father:  Abide in Christ in Faith-filled Surrender

How do I abide in Christ? How do I live the Christian life if it's by faith and not about "doing?" What is faith? These were questions that circled around, on and on in the midst of my confusion...that is until I "met" Andrew Murray.  Actually, I had read him early in my Christian walk, but that was during the time that "faith formulas" and "to do lists" and "theological systems" were more the answers to my quests than was Christ Himself (although I didn't realize it at the time).


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A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

One of my spiritual fathers was still alive on this earth when I first "met" him. Henri J. M. Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Our "meeting" came in two ways. A mentor friend of mine pointed me to Nouwen's classic work, The Return of the Prodigal Son. This is an amazing book based on meditations on Rembrandt's painting by the same name. (See my previous post for a favorite quote).

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