Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 24, 2023

When We Entertain The Edge of Falling

“So whoever stands must be careful not to fall.” I Corinthians 10:12 (HCSB)

Ever tried to stand on one foot only to cave quickly? Despite our determination to stand firmly in one place, our weak muscles win out. And that crash to the floor isn’t pretty or fun. Embarrassed, we quickly get back up dismissing our attempt because we just knew we were stronger.

Hard to admit our weaknesses. Hard to dismiss our failings. Even harder to confess our inability to stand firm. Bet we’ve all been there when we entertained a not so good option totally convinced we wouldn’t cave in. Probably experienced proud moments too confident we were above tipping over the edge of someone else’s tempting moments. Dare we even admit those times judging others puffs us up to a perceived higher status that would “definitely not do the same.”

Weak moments where we count on personal strength never serve us well. We need God’s Spirit empowering us to stay on course, so we won’t give in when personal desires attempt to derail us. We need awareness of our inability to stand firm by ourselves. Smart women guard their hearts and cover their minds with the truth of God’s Word. Wise women invest in strengthening resolve and strategically choose to avoid the potential of sin dragging us down. Humble women admit their weaknesses and avoid leaning on self or pretending they’ve got it all under control.

Bottom line sweet friend, we want to stand. And part of that standing requires awareness of how easy it is to fall and how quickly we can lose our footing. Holding on tight to our God is the only way to journey through life. Resting confidently in His strength to see us through. Perfection we will miss on this earth, but blameless we can achieve if we stay close to Him.

Keeping it real here – let’s tackle that one thing consistently seeking to pull us down. Let’s surrender it at the feet of Jesus and determine to not take it back. Let’s pray daily for protection, wisdom and discernment in weak moments. Let’s not boast but rather admit we need God desperately to keep us standing firm.

“Father, give us your eyes to see the potential of slipping before we entertain the edge and fall. Help us to draw strength, stability and firmness from You and not trust self to get us through.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 23, 2023

Achieving A Healthy Lifestyle

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” Daniel 12:13 (NIV)

There is no single recipe for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you want to see the latest trends just go to YouTube, Pinterest, or Google. Some drink energy shakes, while others prefer to “juice” it. Some run races and participate in triathlons, while others prefer a calm, peaceful walk. If someone wishes to stay healthy and strong, there is no room for being a couch potato, taking diet pills or pigging out at a buffet. Having a healthy lifestyle can be simple, but it takes diligence, and when training for a marathon or working with a personal trainer, one must follow directions “to the dot.”

Daniel and his friends were a good example of diligence and obedience. They deliberately ate healthy foods and abstained from eating things that would not treat their bodies right. Daniel and his friends’ purpose was to consecrate their bodies to the Lord while living in a foreign environment where other gods were worshipped. Their healthy diet coupled with prayer and worship to the Lord did wonders for their bodies.

Our spiritual diet should be consistent like our physical one. The more healthy food we feed to our heart, mind and soul, the stronger we will be spiritually. And the stronger we are spiritually, the less likely we will succumb to the diseases of the soul, i.e. sinful thoughts and actions that separate us from the heart of God. We must make a conscious decision to read our Bible, pray to the Lord and worship Him on a regular basis. Yes, it does take diligence and effort on our part, but how much more will we be able to accomplish for the Lord when we are properly nourished in His Word?

“Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word that feeds us and strengthens us.”

For His Glory

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 22, 2023

Working Your Core

“Therefore, take up the whole armor, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13, ESV)

I love horseback riding.  It ranks high on the list of my “go to” activities for stress relief. When I’m on the trail riding my mind has to stay focused.  Not on the problems going on in my life, but on the horse and the trail in front of me.  There’s a wonderful sense of freedom and relaxation enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors.

The most important fundamental and key foundational riding skill is having a strong core connection with your horse. Connecting to your core means balance for both you and your horse.

Having a connected core also allows you to have better emotional control (over yourself and your horse).  Without this essential connection, everything else you do on your horse will be off. When your core is properly engaged, you stay in sync with your horse’s center of balance. It creates a sensation of stability and harmony in motion between you and your horse.

It’s important to stay calm and allow your body to move with the rhythm of the horse.  Working your core gives you the ability to feel the way he is walking, making it easier to let him rock you from side to side without resisting.  You might bounce or get thrown off if you’re too tense.

When Paul wrote the verse above to the church in Ephesus, he was stressing the importance of working your spiritual core.

“Having done all” implies:

  • Daily personal prayer (relationship)
  • Regularly reading /studying (meditating/taking thoughts captive) on the Word
  • Staying connected to others in the Body of Christ (accountability)

When I am engaged in these things, I’m not able to focus on the problems of life. These fundamentals help me focus on Jesus instead (another great stress reliever). There’s freedom in Him.

Not having our core firmly connected to God leaves us more vulnerable to our emotions. Life can be bumpy (like a trail) and if our core is not connected to God then we can be thrown.

When life throws us, our emotions can keep us from being in sync with God.

Have you ever uttered these words?

“I don’t feel like reading my Bible.”  “I don’t feel like going to bible study/church.”  “I don’t feel like . . . “

If our balance is off, then we’re not able to put on the whole armor and we have no stamina to stand when the trail of life makes us sway. (Ephesian 6:14-17)

The Bible stabilizes us.  His truth allows us to move in any direction life pulls us and gives us proper balance.

“Father help us to understand the importance of working our spiritual core. It enables us to put on the whole armor so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil.”

 

For His Glory

Laura Holmes (www.ephraimministries.org)
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 21, 2023

Sing In His Presence

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” Psalm 100:1-2

Do you ever stop to consider the amazing fact that, as believers, we are privileged to enter into the very throne room of God? Because Jesus made a way of reconciliation for us, exchanging our filthy rags for His righteousness, there is no longer an impassible chasm. We can come before the Lord with our thankfulness, our petitions, our fears, and our brokenness. It’s truly mind-blowing when you let it sink in.

But there are times when we might feel far from God. Maybe we’ve turned to some other idol—a person, a substance, an activity—to fill a soul-hole. Maybe we’re frustrated because a prayer is not being answered when and how we want it to be, so we—like a spoiled toddler—cross our arms and turn our backs on our gracious and loving Father. Whatever the reason for this perceived disconnect, the Bible gives us clear direction as to how to enter into God’s presence.

The Psalms are so beautiful, and they capture pretty much every emotional and spiritual experience we can go through. David’s, in particular, express much of what we go through…but he always turns his focus back to God’s sovereignty, power, holiness, grace, and justice. Psalm 100 (which isn’t explicitly written by David), is a lovely reminder of who God is—and, based on that, we’re to be thankful. But it’s the second verse that highlights a super-cool duality of worship.

“Come before Him with joyful singing.” This simple statement can actually be read in two ways, each of which deliver a powerful truth. First, the meaning can be: “When you come into the presence of the Lord, do so with joyful singing.” This totally makes sense, right? When we consider God in His magnificence, it’s a logical response to burst out in joyful song! (Which, by the way, we can now only dimly experience, but one day we’ll see Him in all His glory—and, oh, I can only imagine those songs!)

But, going back to those times when we feel far from God, this verse can also be an instruction for how to enter into His presence. “How do we come before Him? With joyful singing!” In other words, when we’re feeling disconnected, or when we simply don’t “feel” like worshipping, there is a solution: Joyfully sing! Throw on your favorite praise song…and sing. Loudly. Sing songs of who God is—His character, His providence. Sing about His amazing grace that rescued and redeemed you. Remind yourself in song that He will never leave or forsake you—that Christ is all you need. When you feel anxious, fearful, discouraged, or disconnected…sing. The joy will come. The next thing you know, you’ll be in His marvelous presence.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of coming before You with praise, thanksgiving, and joyful songs!

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 20, 2023

When Sin Breaks Our Heart

“My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.”  Psalm 119:136 (ESV)

As a timid middle schooler, I remember the day my best friend moved away.  Leaving had never been on my radar.  All my family lived within miles of each other. Staying is what we did. The very thought of someone I loved not being present in my life was too much for this seventh grader to endure.  So, the tears began to fall and did they ever fall.  I thought I would never stop crying.

Fast forward to adulthood, and I admit there have been many tear-stained days.  Some over silly misunderstandings. Some over broken hearts.  Some over tear-jerker movies.  Some over personal defeats.  Some over deep losses. Some over nothing at all.

Keeping it real here – one thing is certain few tears were shed by me because others failed to honor God’s word.  Interesting how we choose other routes rather than sorrow.  Easier to judge others’ actions.  Easier to gossip about others. Sadly it’s ever so tempting to relish in the consequences others experience from walking flagrantly in disobedience rather than be broken over their sin.

As I’ve journeyed through Psalm 119 this year, the imagery in verse 136 convicts my spirit.  Streams of tears isn’t exactly a quick cry. Webster defines stream as a steady succession – a continuous supply – an unbroken current.  And that word current reminds us it is the swiftest part of a stream. The psalmist wasn’t simply crying and wiping away his tears.  He was deeply sorrowful over others’ sins.

Wonder how long it’s been since we shed streams of tears because people are far from God?

What does that look like in our family, at work and in our church?

Brokenness over sin versus judgment holds the potential to draw others back to God.  Brokenness over sin removes the blinders over our own sin. Brokenness fosters humility, grace and restoration.  Brokenness causes us to pivot and reexamine disobedience from the eyes of God.

If the psalmist’s streams of tears were ever flowing, I can only imagine how the heart of God breaks over His creation’s disobedience.  Why?  Because He knows obedience positions us for His blessings, protection and glory.

Sweet friends, this week we will encounter many occasions to witness our sins in full bloom. We will watch as others turn their backs on God.  So rather than default to excusing or judging, let’s do the hard thing – allow our sin and others’ sin to birth genuine sorrow.  Crying out to our God who welcomes repentance and forgives all our sins.

Father, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.  Help us to view sin from your perspective and release our tendency to judge, gossip and relish in the sin of others.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 17, 2023

When Today Triggers Yesterday

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 (ESV)

Can honestly say every time I drive past this landmark, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. Nothing unusual or unique about it – it’s simply a group of picnic tables near a rest area before you get to Charlottesville. A quiet peaceful spot. Perfect for a picnic. Great place to just enjoy the calm and hear the water in the creek trickling by. Soothing to a weary soul.

I was that weary one many years ago. On my way to UVA to meet with specialists, we stopped for a quick break and ate our lunch without a word ever spoken between us. Some moments are like that – dread and exhaustion leave little room for conversation. Got back in our car and headed on our way.

Quietness filled a room occupied with sick women where smiles were scarce as many entertained the shadows of death. UVA would provide little answers and ultimately a major surgery would occur before healing could happen. Definitely difficult and painful days. Ones I will never forget. And nestled right in the midst of them is a clear reckoning of the sweetness of our God. Priceless moments when He drew me closer than I had ever been to Him. Simple reminders of His love, peace and grace overflowing me.

Triggers of the desperation I felt that day resurface when I travel up 29 North evoking those precious memories. Gratitude rises to the surface when I pass by the one spot where peace and quiet settled my chaotic soul.

That my friends was over thirty years ago and the sacredness of life never escapes me. God answered many prayers – some were no’s and some were yes’ – none were out of the scope of His power and might. Countless ways God showed up when I needed Him the most. Memories of His promises spoken to my heart – deep lessons learned in the midst of suffering propelling me forward – flourishing rather than simply surviving.

Maybe you’ve been there too – when landmark’s recall God’s faithfulness. His love story to you unfolding one page at a time. Snapshots of where He’s taken you in this journey and reminders of His protective hand guiding and leading you along the way. Cherish the landmark. Share the story. Encourage someone else whose shadows loom larger than life. Steward what God has entrusted to you, and you’ll be amazed at how He births fresh joy and renewed hope in others who desperately need His touch.

“Father, not a single tear is ever wasted in Your sight. You are ever present in the midst of our storms, and Your faithfulness serves as a constant reminder – Your love is extravagant and beyond comprehension. Praising You for giving us the story of us to share with our world.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 16, 2023

In The Moment

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”   (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

God in His infinite wisdom designed me with this innate ability for details.  I’m a planner.  I love for things to be organized.  I want to eliminate surprises as much as possible.  One of my spiritual gifts is hospitality. To make a person feel comfortable requires taking the time to think through the situation and plan appropriately.

Over the years that desire for organization has crossed a line at times and ended up being more about control.  By trying to avoid the anxiety of something unexpected happening, I did my best to plan everything. But instead of calming my anxiety it only made it worse.

Until I went through a season in which I learned a valuable lesson about living in the moment.  Taking one day at a time. One moment at a time. Surrendering my need to control the uncontrollable.  Learning how to keep my mind focused on Jesus all the time.

While I said I trusted Jesus my actions did not reflect my faith.  I was making excuses for letting my anxiety control me.  I was ignoring biblical wisdom and leaning on my understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Adamant that I had to do it this way.

Over the years, I’ve missed out on numerous opportunities because I was in my head too much – listening to fear.  Either replaying something unpleasant that had happened or jumping ahead stressing over the “what ifs” of a situation. Leaving me paralyzed with fear.

While there’s nothing wrong with being organized; we can’t stop whatever God has allowed to happen to us – or will allow to happen to us in the future. We are NOT in control.

Making a conscious effort to stop that anxiety ridden train of thought and focus on the truth of Jesus didn’t eliminate all my problems.  It did, however, bring about a peaceful state of mind that allowed me to start living in the moment.  It brought about a freedom to experience a feeling of security like I had never known. Allowing me to embrace things way out of my comfort zone. Leading to things I thought impossible – like mountains moving beneath my feet– one moment at a time. (Isaiah 40:4)

Out of our comfort zone is usually where God calls us to make the most impact for the Kingdom.

There is no promise in the Bible that we won’t experience illness.  Or that people we love won’t die.  There’s no promise that bad things will never happen to us while we’re on this earth.  The promise is that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  No matter what the moment holds – if Jesus is with us – we can endure it!

Father, help us to release our need for control. To trust you more so we can live in the moment and not the fear of uncertainty.”

 

For His Glory

Laura Holmes (www.ephraimministries.org)
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 15, 2023

Making It Through Successfully

“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.    I will advise you and watch over you. Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.”     Psalm 32:8,10  NLT

How in the world can a girl get through this life successfully when there are thousands of unknowns ahead of us? Obviously, our human minds can’t know the best path to take. And if this were a problem for only young women, I would have it made, but I still face the same dilemma in the later years of my life. Am I doing what God wants me to do? Where does He want me to go? How can I use my time and strength to the best advantage?

We’ve all been told that God only shows us one step at a time. Sometimes it’s hard to trust Him for the next step, not knowing where it all will lead, but look at verse 8. He promises to not only guide you for the best pathway for your life (a custom-designed plan just for you by an all-knowing, crazy-in-love-with-you God) but to watch over you as you go. This speaks of continuing guidance and protection as we walk the path He shows us. It’s an ongoing watchfulness. No matter what decisions you face, no matter your uncertainty about your ultimate destination in life, God is watching over you as you read this. He will still be watching over you tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

Most of us have had many people watching over us and guiding us from our youth, starting with parents and teachers. Then there were guidance counselors, career counselors, aptitude tests to tell us what kinds of jobs would suit us, and psychological tests to determine what slot our personality fits in. But there has never been a guide like the Lord, who knows our hearts and can see into the future.

He will guide you along the best pathway for your life. He said so in verse 8. He will lead you away from entrapment in sin. When He takes you on a detour you think is a mistake, it’s quite likely a side trip to enrich you and strengthen your character. Maybe He’s positioning you to meet people who will have a major impact on your life, or you on theirs.

And when you feel you have failed, God still has a plan. This is the God who loves you unfailingly, who shows His unfathomable hesed each day, who will never leave you or forsake you. He truly has your best interest at heart. Truly.

“Father, often the path You show us is scary or uncomfortable, and we are tempted to choose another way that seems easier. But we pray for strength and courage to obey Your voice and thank You that You are always there, guiding and watching over us.”

For His Glory

 

Cherie Williams (cherieharbridgewilliams.com)
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 14, 2023

No Complaints

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you will be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15

We are in the midst of Lent—40 days of preparation for the Easter celebration. Growing up Catholic, we were always told to give up something we like during that time. And I did—but for me, it was just a box to check off, and I didn’t really use it to deepen my relationship with God. (Plus, I would do very flesh-fulfilling “sacrifices”—like giving up beer but then carrying around a bottle of vodka to parties…and proclaiming proudly, “Yeah, I can’t drink beer because I gave it up for Lent.” Cue the self-righteous swag.)

Anyway, once I truly surrendered my life to the Lord, the meaning of Lent definitely shifted for me. I’ve become much more intentional over the years about focused prayer, preparation, and praise about the Resurrection of Jesus and the impact of that historical eternity-changing event. Especially its eternity-changing impact on me.

This year—which is also my “year of Joy”—I decided to fast an intangible thing: complaining and grumbling. In Philippians (one of my favorite epistles…well, they all become my favorite as I’m reading them), Paul commands believers to “do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). The Greek word he first uses (translated “complaining” or “grumbling”) means murmuring discontent, which could be the complaining we do in our own minds regarding a situation or that quiet (or not so quiet) group-gripe among friends or co-workers—generally about another person. The word for “arguing” here means to hesitate, doubt, or outright rebel against what is true or what ought to be done. Each is a slightly different take on our general word “complain.”

Now, I’m not a big complainer, but I can get frustrated by other people—especially when they don’t do what I think they should…you know, the right thing. (I won’t expand on my “moral perfectionist” tendencies right now, but you probably get it. And I know I can be equally frustrating to others in this regard. But I digress.) Anyway, I don’t say anything to them, but when the interaction is done, I might have a few things to say in my own head…or I run to my husband with those grumbling thoughts. Or, when a coworker or friend has a complaint against a person we both interact with, I would tend to join them—to “empathize”, which ended up sounding a bit group-gripey.

So, what does my “fast from complaining” look like? First, I try to stay away from all news, which has the power to set me off on all kinds of not-so-quiet tirades. But the more potent application for me is to weave Paul’s command into my everyday moments. When a situation arises that could cause internal grumbling, I look for—and profess—the positive and the blessing in it. Or, if I’m talking with someone who is going off on another person’s words or actions, I do not join in, but try to redirect the “griper” to something affirmative about that person or the scenario about which they’re griping. I try to turn discouragement into encouragement.

This has been pretty amazing. As I mentioned, I didn’t think I was much of a complainer, but being intentional about not even grumbling to myself has made a bigger difference than I anticipated. The result? A new level of joy throughout the day! (There are so many levels of truth in this, how what we think impacts our feelings and actions—but that’s another blog.) And I hope that by not engaging in group gripe that I’m bringing a little joy into other people’s day as well—shining light into the darkness. The coolest thing is that my husband (a self-admitted complainer) is also doing the Philippians 2:14-15 fast. As you can imagine, our home atmosphere has shifted. Again, we didn’t complain or argue with each other (at least, not very often), it was more a conspiratorial co-grumbling about other people and situations. Being free of this, we are deeply embracing another part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians—chapter 4, verses 4-9. Check it out, as these verses make another great prep-for-Easter approach!

What about you? Why not halt the grumbling and arguing—and choose joy? It was for the joy set before Jesus that He endured the cross for us (Hebrews 12:2)…so, let’s fix our eyes on Him with joy for what He accomplished on our behalf that Easter morning.

“Lord, Your death and resurrection made a way for us to be reconciled to God—to go from darkness to light, blindness to sight, death to life. May that Truth permeate our days, overtaking any complaints with the joy of our salvation.”

 

For His Glory

 

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 13, 2023

Why Empty Never Serves Us Well

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:3 (ESV)

When you’re planning to make your fave dessert no one wants to find an empty flour container.  Even worse is when you’re craving eggs for breakfast and upon opening the fridge you find an empty egg carton.   Disappointment quickly follows then frustration. Nothing satisfies when what we really want is gone.

Recovering from our hunger pains or passion for dessert will pass, but our attempts to navigate life on empty never serves us well.  We’ve all been there when rest was evasive and exhaustion was our close companion. Like an empty pitcher attempting to fill everyone’s glasses, we resort to relying on self and excuse what we really need.

Sound familiar?  It’s ever so easy to coast dependent on self because life’s too busy to recharge our souls.  Spiritual self-care gradually slides to the back burner for the sake of doing it all ourselves and figuring it out. Simply put – we’ve got this.  Not quite the way God planned for us to be filled.

Just like our physical bodies can’t exist without oxygen, our spiritual bodies can’t exist without God. Empty leaves little for us to truly give to self and others.  Best solution is to never land in the place of empty.  To consistently nurture our souls and lean into God’s wisdom positions us to navigate life with the overflow of His filling.  God isn’t looking for perfection; He’s looking for pursuit. If we seek Him, we will find Him.

Keeping it real here – what’s standing in the gap of our God filling?  What’s consuming our focus, time and energy?  Perhaps it’s time to evaluate how empty is working for us.  Remember healthy evaluation is not condemnation but information and awareness.  Asking God to remove our blinders and dependence on self opens us up to see what He already knows.

The most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with our God.  When we read and study His word, our minds are enlightened to His truth and wisdom.  When we pull ourselves away from the chaos and noise to pray, we will experience the beauty of an intimate conversation like we’ve never  known before.  Starting our day with worship ignites our souls to the glory and wonder of the One who inspires, encourages and uplifts our focus from this world.  Memorizing and meditating on His words equips us for the battles we will face and brings to mind exactly what we need to say or do to encourage others.  Maintaining a short account of sin positions us for clarity, growth and influence.  Godly friendships and accountability is priceless.  If we genuinely want to flourish and nurture our souls, then we will welcome community.

Sweet friends, spiritual self-care isn’t optional; it’s essential. Prioritizing our relationship with God will completely fill us, and the overflow will impact the lives of those we love. Every deposit we make, every connection we maintain to Him will never result in empty.

“Father, You have birthed a deep desire within us to seek You, know You and walk in Your truth.  Nothing else ever truly satisfies like You.”  Thank You for overflowing us with Your goodness.”

 

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

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