living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Change In The Air…

door     Living Braver has been a journey. As I recognized fear had become my default reaction to difficulties I knew there must be a better way.

Fear hadn’t always been such a close companion. Through a barrage of situations spanning just a few years, it sneakily crept in. As I set out on this journey my goal wasn’t so much to focus on fear but its opposite: bravery.

Perhaps the way to not holding my breath or getting lost in ‘what-ifs’ was to find brave steps leading to freedom.

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That’s what the past eighteen months have explored. At first these were basic baby steps. As I discovered fear and brave didn’t have as much to do with me as they did with my relationship with God, faith steps emerged.

Will there ever be a day you and I are never afraid? We all have doubts, anxieties, worries. What we’ve discovered together is that it isn’t the absence of the trials of life. It’s not a new found I can handle this. It is the ever present Holy Spirit and our totally relying on a Father who can handle it all.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV)

When my focus began to be more and more about ‘this isn’t all there is’ and that no person, no difficulty, no injustice – nothing – can touch my eternity, finally a new perspective came.

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Suddenly it seemed liked clouds parted and all the wonders of God’s promises burst forth and crowded each week’s writings with hope. A hope that will never fade, spoil, or perish. A true treasure.

“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you.” (1Peter 1:4 NIV)

My prayer is that this journey has helped you, pointed your vision upward to where your help comes from. If I can pray for you or share with you, please email me.

You can continue to read my wanderings over at my original site: http://parisrenae.com. In the near future change will be coming to that site with a fresh new look. I would love to have you ‘follow me’ there. May the God of all grace and peace guard your hearts and your minds, Paris Renae

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Open Here…

snow hot chocolate pixa x     We mark time with years and moments. Someday time will no longer be relevant, but here and now it’s how we make new beginnings – a New Year…

I’m not much of a goal setter and I’m pretty certain if I was I would disappoint myself regularly. But I do have aspirations, do desire to see change and growth, to feel the difference that purpose makes.

God had a purpose for putting His Word in writing – that we may have all we need for life and godliness. He had a purpose in sending His Son to die for us, that we can be cleansed from all unrighteousness and have eternal life. And He has a purpose for each and every one of our lives “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8 NIV)

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Our part is to be prepared so we are useful for Him to fulfill His purpose through us. That’s where His Word comes in, as He speaks to our heart ‘Open here’. Randomly opening our Bible and reading where our finger lands is not what God has in mind. Do we pick up books, reports, spread sheets, whatever it is we regularly read and just let our finger tell us where to start? What if we approached reading the very Word of God with the same purpose we do in reading instructions, emails from our boss, or a novel?

Open here: where a devotional directs us, where a Bible study leads us, where we hear at a sermon on a Sunday. Open here: to a passage we feel drawn to asking His Holy Spirit to teach us. Open here: breathing it in like a fresh bag of coffee, lingering over it like a decadent dessert.

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“All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 38: 9 NIV) Every sigh is heard, every longing known by our Maker. Nothing is hidden nor does He hide His purposes. He longs for us to daily live on purpose so we can know His heart.

A beautiful song – Come to Me – by Bethel Music is a sweet reminder to take with us as we venture brave into the New Year:

I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now.
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
And though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8GOII4PrrA (Come To Me YouTube Link)

 


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Inheritance…

easter flowers1     Just shy of 2,000 years ago a group of men, inseparable and courageous, scattered and tried to find ‘safe’ places. The man they thought would end all their despair has been killed…

Much like us, 2000 years later – we act courageous until… until we’re confronted with a trying situation, or made uncomfortable about our faith…

Jesus told His followers on several occasions that He would be killed – so many could have life forever. Many of the closest disciples said they would die with Him. But when the time came… ‘well, maybe He wasn’t who we thought He was’, ‘maybe we misunderstood what He meant’, ‘maybe we need to go off and figure this out’…

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These followers were no different than you and I. We believe (but we leave room for doubt). The good news was that within a couple of days Jesus returned from the dead, calmed their fears, promised to be with them (and us) to the very end of the age, and gave them – and all who would believe from that point on – His Spirit…

One of my favorite books in the Bible is 1Peter (highly recommended reading) especially chapter one. Peter reminds us of our “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

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Anything we inherit here is temporary and subject to perishing, spoiling, fading, being used up, being stolen… I have a friend who, on two occasions, has not received the inheritance due her because of unscrupulous people. It has been hurtful in many ways. But my friend has an Eternal Perspective: her inheritance, the one that matters, is certain. No one can cheat her out of it and it will last forever…

Continuing in 1Peter it just gets better… vereses 6-9 are what Easter is all about as we remember the One who so willingly paid the price for our foolishness so that we could forever and ever live with Him – seeing wonders untold and without end…

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed….even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:6-9 NIV italics mine)

Happy, Happy Easter – He is Risen!

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Coming In Last…

race track1     I’ve never been in an actual race – I know some of you probably have: marathon, 5K, bike race, car race – my daughter swam competitively. Whether we’ve actually been in a physical contest or not, we often feel like we’re coming in last…

There was a news story recently about a young woman running a race, in fact, leading most of the way. Suddenly her body could take no more, down she went on her knees. She was so focused and the finish line so near, that wobbly as she was, she began to crawl. Giving all she had left in her, other runners passing her by, she crawled over that finish line and collapsed. The point: she didn’t give up, she finished.

Walking with God here in this life is often referred to as a race in the Bible. Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, when he was nearing the end of his life said:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Timothy 4:7 NIV) He knew that when he finished was not important, that he finished was the goal.

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Our lives today can seem like a chaotic race that never ends, or if it does we feel beaten up, like we came in last. But Paul went on to tell Timothy “And now the prize awaits me,” Paul knew his ‘race’ was not for human reward or to show what a great athlete for God he had been. The reward he looked forward to was eternal “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on the day of His return.” And now for the really good news: “And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.” (2Timothy 4:8 NLT underline mine)

I cannot ignore the day to day race of life but I can choose to run in a way that testifies to the One who makes the race worth it. The writer of Hebrews gave us some great advice: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV underline mine)

Like the woman whose body just about gave out, but looked to the goal and finished, we must fix our eyes on Jesus – our goal – and with His strength, not ours, finish the race – for eternity is much longer than our brief race here on earth…

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