Faith, Perseverance, Revelation Series

Revelation (series): Belief—When Living Our Beliefs Costs

@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 

~~~~~~~

Photograph used with permission by N Phillips

The Kleins

Elane Photography 

Crystal Dixon 

Country Mills Farms 

Each of these names are of people and businesses that have faced persecution in the United States. Who have been shoved out of business or forced to pay extreme fines.

Why?

Because they upheld their Christian beliefs in the marketplace. Photographers. Bakers. Wedding chapel owners. A university administrator. Normal people working to provide for their families. They’ve lived their faith out loud, so to speak.

Are things really so different today than they were in the time when the letter to the church of Philadelphia was written?

Continue reading “Revelation (series): Belief—When Living Our Beliefs Costs”

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Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Provide: What God Provides

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PROVIDE. 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!

PROVIDE

Each day, as I drive the boys to school, we pass this pond. I love it. It reflects the mountains when its surface is glassy. It provides food for geese and ducks and other birds.

It’s just pretty to me. Snapping pictures of it makes my spirit happy.

I’m sure as some people drive by and watch me walk to the pond to snap photos some mornings, they may think I’m just this side of crazy.

It’s a pond.

In the middle of a city.

Right next to a development of apartments.

Big deal.

But, God brings beauty from it. Through it. He offers food for the water fowl. And glimpses of His glorious color for those who take a second to glimpse that way when they drive past.

How much more does God provide for us? His provision may not look like we’d expect. Sometimes He doesn’t provide what we think we need.

But God.

He knows exactly what we need.

As the geese need a place to land, rest, and feed, so we need places in our days—our lives—to land and be filled. Physically Spiritually. Soul-fully.

And He gives this. In Psalm 23, the first verse is meaningful to me. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

And, if He doesn’t give me something I think I need . . . did I really need it?

I have seen Him provide for many of our family’s needs, and a number of our wants.

But those things He hasn’t given . . .

sometimes He’s saying, “Wait.”

Other times He’s saying, “This isn’t My best for you, Daughter.”

Like those geese, I need to trust that He knows. And if He hasn’t given it, then I must not need it.

He has a better plan for me. For my life.

As I walk through my days, I want to see His beauty. His provision. I want to be on the lookout for His presence in my days.

What about you? How have you seen God provide in your life? When has he not given you something you thought you needed and offered you something better instead?

Click to Tweet: He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Provide

Faith, Revelation Series

Revelation (series): Guard—When We Stop Watching

@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 

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How many of us let down our guards in our walk with Jesus? I’ll own it: I have.

Sardis (See Revelation 3:1-6) was a wealthy city in John’s time. It had seen better days, but the people lived well. The church looked alive. There was little conflict or division. Many called the people of this city soft, and dare I say it—entitled—because of their wealth and luxury.

Sardis was a city with sheer cliff walls protecting them. Though they were in an easily defensible position, they were overcome by enemies, not once but twice.

Why?

Continue reading “Revelation (series): Guard—When We Stop Watching”

Five Minute Friday scribblings

Tired: When We Live On Too Little Sleep

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—TIRED. 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!

TIRED

I suffered with insomnia for the first six years of our marriage. Two to five hours of sleep was my norm. One day, I was so tired, I drove home from somewhere and didn’t even remember going through a couple of major intersections.

I don’t recommend driving when you’re living on so little sleep. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do, even when we’re tired. Don’t we?

In this season of life, there’s way more stuff to do than time to do it. For the last number of years, I’ve caught my bedtimes slipping closer to when the clock hands point straight up. I still wake up at o’-dark-hundred, though. I’ve held my list as more important than sleep.

I don’t think that’s how God wired us. He knows we need rest. He’s created us to need it if we want to thrive.

The thing is? When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out. I drive through my days without really experiencing them. I survive, but I’m not thriving. And I don’t remember the important things.

I miss out on time loving on my boys, time connecting with my husband and friends. I’m too tired to really focus on the important. Instead, I tend to choose dealing with the urgent, so I can mark that next thing off my to-do list.

When I’m tired, I am shorter-tempered with my boys. Less compassionate when they’ve had a tough day. I miss the nuances in their body language. My husband is patient with me, but he sometimes worries about me when I’m not sleeping enough.

There are seasons when we simply have to push through the tired. But something or someone is sacrificed when we live that way. Sooner or later, our bodies will demand rest. And we’d be wise to give it.

In this, my fiftieth year, I’ve been working to sleep more. I’m choosing rest over to-do’s. It’s when I am rested that my body feels best, my mind functions at it’s best. And I’m most attuned to the things God wants to show me in the world around me.

Tiredness tints my days in gray. Being rested colors my days with brightness and joy.

I eventually got a handle on the insomnia and began sleeping normal-people amounts again. And with that came more clarity in my thinking, more intimacy with my Father, and more joy with my people.

What about you? How does tiredness affect you? What helps you stay rested?

Click to Tweet:  When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Tired

Faith, Revelation Series

Revelation (series)—See: Who Sees Us?

@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 

~~~~~~~

Have you ever felt small, insignificant? If you’ve read enough of my blogposts, you know this is a struggle I’ve grappled with over many years.

That sense of, no matter what I do that is good, helpful, significant, worthy of notice, it’s not enough to actually get noticed.

The question becomes, who am I seeking to be noticed by?

Continue reading “Revelation (series)—See: Who Sees Us?”

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”

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?”