Faith, Revelation Series, Trusting God

Revelation (Series): Compromise—Answering God’s Prompting

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

~~~~~~~

As the grocery clerk rang up my purchases, she shared about how a loved one had recently died from something she too should have died from. As I listened to her words, I heard the pain, the guilt, the confusion of why she was left to live while her loved one died.

The Spirit pressed hard on my heart, encouraging me to share about Jesus with her. I had prayed for this gift of opportunity . . . and I faltered.

Continue reading “Revelation (Series): Compromise—Answering God’s Prompting”

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Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Beauty: Looking For Beauty

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BEAUTY. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

BEAUTY

The Weather Channel lied to us on Monday. What was predicted to be a cold, breezy day morphed into a snowy, gray day. I always look for the beauty in a day. I see it in fog. In clouds. In sunlight.

But a gray day is still  . . . a gray day. Not as much color. Dreary. One of those days when a girl wants to stay inside, eat popcorn and watch movies or read a book until the sun come back out.

Tuesday started out foggy, but by the time I dropped the boys off at school, the sky was a brilliant blue. Snow-tipped trees brushed it with pure contrast. My heart was happy!

It got me thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives that are dreary.

HARD.

Sometimes the hard passes and blue skies return.

Sometimes, we walk through the Hard for the rest of our days.

One thing I’ve found is, if I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God.

When circumstances overwhelm me with discouragement and even despair, it’s difficult to see beyond the colorless pain.

When God reveals Himself color begins to tint the gray. When I look beyond the pain of circumstances and choose to cling to faith in Him instead of reliance on myself? My eyes can see hints of His beauty in the middle of the hard season.

God is always faithful. We may not always see how God works, but we can always be assured that He is there in the hard seasons with us.

If we seek His face, He often reveals glimpses of Himself. When the days are gray, let’s look for His beauty, shall we?

What about you? When have you seen God’s beauty in the midst of your hardship? What aspect of God’s creation is the most beautiful to you?

Click to Tweet: If I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Beauty

Perspective, Revelation Series, Suffering

Revelation (series): Suffering—What’s Your Perspective?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

~~~~~~~

Can I just be honest for a minute?

I prayed for years that God would spare me from the hardships of life. I look back now and see what an unrealistic prayer that was. From my current vantage point I understand that this prayer opposes God’s best for me . . . for each of us.

As I read the words of Jesus to the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11), my heart went out to the people of that day. They were told that they would endure affliction.

Continue reading “Revelation (series): Suffering—What’s Your Perspective?”

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Why: When There Are No Answers

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WHY. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

WHY

When I saw the word for tonight, an old Point of Grace song came to mind. 

I thought about the heartbreak in the news this week of the school shooting in Florida. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about this yet. As I prayed and pondered about what I would share, “Who Am I?” came to mind. It’s comforted me on the roads of heartache.

*****

There are so many questions in my mind, my heart, that begin with Why?

There are times when I wish I had the answers, the capability of understanding the workings and secrets of God.

I don’t understand the why’s of being rejected by my peers as a child and the heartache that season inflicted on me.

I don’t understand why God allowed my husband and me to be unable to bear biological children when teen moms could and aborted. I don’t understand why we walked for years on the infertility road.

This is what I know. There are going to be questions I will never see answered this side of heaven. Just because God may not choose to answer my Whys, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love me, or that He loves me less than others.

When my eyes are wrapped up in the whys of my own life, I am me-focused.

Maybe the better questions to ponder revolve around Him.

Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created? Why would He pour out His grace on us, even when we sin against Him and each other? Even when we walk away from Him?

Why would He choose to strengthen His children to walk through this life’s hard with His light shining through us?

Why?

One word: LOVE

We may not understand why things happen in our world. They break our hearts. Hurt us to our cores.

We may feel oh, so alone sometimes. Lost.

We’re not.

In those seasons when we ask WHY . . .

. . . we are single

. . . Married to _____

. . . Unemployed

. . . Working in a difficult job

. . . Losing a loved one

. . . Dealing with cancer and illness

. . . Devastated by life’s heartbreaks

Those are the seasons we should be seeking God Himself rather than answers.

Sometimes the answers are beyond our understanding.

But our Father? He is intimately acquainted with us. He loves us. He walks with us in the midst of the hardest seasons. He knows the answers we’re ready for, and the ones we’re not ready for.

Maybe when we want to ask why, we can choose to trust instead, to rest in His love and care for us?

What about you? How do you respond when God offers silence in answer to your Why? When has God given you an answer to your why?

Click to Tweet: Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created?

Linking up with Five Minute Friday—WHY

Love, Revelation Series

Revelation (series) Love—Who Do You Love Most?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! 

~~~~~~~

When our pastor’s wife asked me out to lunch, I was excited . . . and nervous. What would we talk about?

Through the course of our time together, she asked if I would be willing to work in our church’s women’s ministry department. The request humbled me.

She wanted me?

There was something gratifying, yet somber about the thought of taking on the mantle of women’s ministry. I prayed hard about this decision.

Thought about it.

Used the question, “If I say no and look back in five years, will I regret not doing this?”

Continue reading “Revelation (series) Love—Who Do You Love Most?”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Privilege: When We Have Much

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PRIVILEGE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

PRIVILEGE

I’ve never felt so humbled as the evening I showed simple pictures of my family to the Filipino people surrounding me. We were told to bring a few pictures on the mission trip that we could share. But nothing that conveyed all that we have in this country.

So, being the scrapbooker I am, I selected a few pics of my oldest son (10 months old at the time), my hubs, and called it good.

That night people looked at my boy, but what they saw was our home. Their comment was: “Wow, you have a big house.”

Oh, the thoughts that raced through my mind. The backdrop behind my boy was dim.

I almost cried.

They had no idea that this picture was snapped in our living room. Not seen in the pictures was our dining room, kitchen, family room and the second-level with bedrooms.

They had no idea. What “normal” looks like in the United States.

And neither did I. What “normal” looks like in the Philippines.

I realized that evening how very privileged we are in the United States. Most families have at least one car. More than one bathroom in their homes. Multiple televisions. And things to call their own.

Too often, we take what we have for granted.

Privilege defined by Merriam-Webster: “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor: prerogative; especially: such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office.”

When I read tonight’s word, the thought that resonated most with me was that, compared to heaven, we are dirt poor.

And yet, Jesus left His paradise, His perfect place, to live among us. He left his “‘mansion,” so to speak, to live in a hovel.

Why?

Love.

Jesus gave up His privileged position out of love for us.

He came to a dirt-poor planet because He loved us more than His position in heaven.

How can we not choose to love those who have so much less than us?

No, I’m not saying we are all called to sell everything we own and move to Africa, though there are those who do.

What can we do from here?

What about loving through prayer?

Through giving to organizations who help those in need?

What about through finding the single parents in our communities and coming alongside them?

We don’t have to look far to find those who are much less privileged than us.

May we choose to be like Jesus and give up some of our conveniences to love others the way He does.

What about you? What have you seen that reminds you how privileged you are? How are you intentional with your resources?

Click to Tweet: Jesus loved us more than His position in heaven

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Privilege

Culture, Faith

Boundaries: When We Play God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’m sure our city officials had a good reason for changing the way red lights and turning arrows operate here. Where once yellow arrows for left-hand turns gave drivers extra time to turn, now arrows turn to red . . . and drivers know they’ll be waiting instead.

In a world where everyone is in a big, fat hurry, a red light can be a major frustration. I’ve watched cars fly through the intersection once that turn arrow flips to red. They don’t want to wait another two-three minutes for a chance to speed on their way.

Continue reading “Boundaries: When We Play God”

Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Agree: Can We Be Authentic?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—AGREE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

AGREE

God has imprinted the word, Authentic, on my heart. I spent a year focusing on that word, and God taught me much.

More than almost anything, I want to live an authentic life. One that reflects Jesus through words and actions.

A life that is honest and real with those around me. Especially the ones I love the most.

Authentic and Agree do not always co-exist.

For decades I spent so much time trying to be agreeable. To fit in. To be accepted.

I could agree with almost anyone (within reason) and think I was being honest. With myself. With them.

But the truth is: we are not always going to agree with people. Things will be done that bother us. Words will be spoken that hurt. Are unfair. Untrue.

Do we just have to brush over it for the sake of agreement? Of unity? Of being godly?

Sometimes, to agree with someone is to be inauthentic.

It’s easy to agree with others to avoid conflict. But when that’s the main reason for agreement, we lose a piece of ourselves and gain compromise and falseness.

We don’t have to enter into conflict all the time. But we need to accept the fact that there will be times when, to be authentic is the higher calling. To agree with someone or something will strip our “real-ness” and replace it with a phony.

Can we be authentic and disagree with someone? Yes. Can we do it in love? Hopefully.

This is what God calls us to. When we disagree with another, may we do so in a loving way. God doesn’t call us to be right or even authentic above all else. He calls us to love.

This looks different depending on relationships, circumstances. But if we can reflect His love in a situation, authenticity can weave deeper into the fabric of who we are.

What about you? How do you disagree with someone in a loving manner? How do you live out authenticity?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes to agree with someone is to be inauthentic

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Agree