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He Is Greater

Renee Ann Smith —  August 3, 2015 — 2 Comments

”Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him,
‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe.’”

~John 20:24&25~

Because of these words, Thomas will always be remembered as Doubting Thomas

But I think of him more as Pessimistic Thomas. Or maybe Cautious Thomas.

Poor guy, even when his friends offered him hope that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it.

I don’t blame him for thinking that his friends might be wrong or easily fooled or perhaps even delusional. Think of what had been happening all around him during the last few weeks.

The world as he once knew it had gone crazy. It had become a place where ordinary men—upstanding, law-abiding citizens—had to fear for their lives. Not because of they were swindlers or thieves or murderers or abusers of any kind.

But simply because of what and in whom they believed.

At the center of this maelstrom was his Lord, a man-God who raised the dead, restored the sick, exercised power over wind and wave, and gave meaning and purpose to Thomas’s very existence.

Yet the world looked at Jesus–teacher, healer, shepherd, a man who never hurt anyone–as a threat.

Like today’s world, they “called good, evil and evil, good,”*** hunted God’s Son as a criminal, tortured, and killed him.

Maybe it all seemed like a bad dream from which there was no waking.

And God let it happen.

Thomas had been close enough to Jesus to feel the chill of those evil forces.

What might they have in store for him?

No wonder he was afraid to trust good news. He could barely believe what he had recently seen with his own eyes much less put stock in hearsay from some emotional friends.

The wounds sin inflicted were painful, deep, and deadly. How could there be any recovering from them?

Thomas wanted to touch, to see, to be sure . . . and Jesus answered his request.

“A week later, Jesus’ disciples were in the house again. Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, ‘May peace be with you!’

Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.’”

~John 20:26-29~

I don’t look at Jesus’ last comment so much as a rebuke to Thomas but as a promise to us. We might find ourselves looking around at the things going on in the world today and thinking exactly as Thomas did:

How can we stand against the evil forces of this world?

Why does God seem to stand silently by?

Where is Jesus?

And the Lord answers, “Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.”

Let’s help each other keep believing, and we can be sure that the blessing will come. It might not look the way we expect—but it will come!

Here’s a verse reminder that greatly comforted me this week . . .

Greater is He that is in youPlus a bonus graphic just because . . .

Blessed is she who believes

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

       ***“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” ~Isaiah 5:20~

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When We Hurt Beth MooreSometimes when we’re hurting, we wish for a God whose arms we can feel and voice we can hear.

But Martha and Mary’s story reminds me that if Jesus were still on earth, His ability to be physically with each one of us would be severely limited.

Part of the faith journey is learning to live in the world of the spirit,

Where God’s comfort comes to our souls in a miraculous work of grace

That is beyond what I can explain or describe.

During the times when I have hurt the most, God has used His faithful servants and His Word and His peace that passes understanding to show me His heart for me.

Here are some favorite verses to immerse myself in during those times. What are some of your favorites?

From Psalm 34 . . .

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.” (vs. 15)

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles.” (vs. 17)

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (vs. 18)

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (vs 19)

“The Lord will rescue his servants. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” (vs. 21)

Psalms 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Philippians 4:6&7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I love how those Philippians verses sound in The Message: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Psalm 139:16: “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth. All the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

Psalm 139:9&10: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139 God Knew me at conception

And, of course, I can rarely end a post without sharing some quotes! I appreciate these wise words from a man who has been through dark times himself . . .

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days,

When your heart is broken,

When you feel abandoned,

When you’re out of options,

When the pain is great and you turn to God alone.” ~Rick Warren

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
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Remember This

Renee Ann Smith —  July 22, 2015 — 8 Comments

Feelings C S Lewis

“The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.

It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference;

And, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins,

At whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Feelings and feelings and feelings. Let me try thinking instead.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Don’t bother too much about your feelings.

When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them.

When they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered.

In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you.

What matters is your intentions and your behavior.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will.” ~C. S. Lewis~

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
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These words from Pastor Bill Johnson captured my heart this week . . .

“Heaven is filled with absolute, perfect, confidence in God. This world is filled with absolute mistrust.

And you and I will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of.

What you live conscious of is what you will reproduce in the world around you.

I try to live in such a way that nothing ever gets bigger in my awareness than my conscious awareness of the presence of God upon me.

I don’t care what the problem is—

If it’s an international crisis or a personal issue—

The moment that problem gets bigger than my awareness of the presence of God, then I will live in reaction to a problem.” ~Bill Johnson~

Wise words! God used them to help me assess my own panic-driven thinking & calm my troubled mind. 

Let’s continue to remind each other that whatever problems we’re facing in life—He is greater!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on life to begin your week . . .

God Meets Our NeedsGeorge Mueller Trials Problems

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
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If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
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The People God Uses

Renee Ann Smith —  July 15, 2015 — 13 Comments

Ability Corrie Ten Boom

 “Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.”
~Paul David Tripp~

“When you are beyond your ability, God has you right where He wants you.”
~R. Thomas~

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
~C. S. Lewis~

`”Your ordinary story bears the fingerprints of an extraordinary God.”
@SheReadsTruth

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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When I find myself filled with doubts about what God’s doing

Or not doing

Or whether He even notices me down here on earth struggling to make my life count,

I take comfort from the testimonies of those who have gone before. Their transparency reminds me that I’m not alone.

Consider the vulnerability of C. S. Lewis, who wrote in a letter:

“I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convinced me of God’s existence.

But the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth.

Often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. Mind you I don’t think so—the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so.”

Be assured that doubting is not sin. Author and pastor, Erwin Lutzer gave me a good way to verbalize this. In The Vanishing Power of Death (a book I recently read & loved), he writes:

“By doubt, I do not mean unbelief.

They appear to be the same, but there are differences.

Unbelief has been defined as rebellion against evidence that we cannot or will not accept.

But doubt is simply stumbling over a stone that we do not yet understand.

Unbelief—especially the hardened variety—is kicking at a stone that we understand all too well.”

 As C. S. Lewis points out, honest doubting—taking our questions to God while remaining open to His answers—can even strengthen our faith. 

“If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt.

If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing.

But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger.

It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply.”

I so appreciate the insights of these godly men. I can tell they’ve ‘been in my shoes.’

If God weren’t so important to me, 

If I hadn’t given my whole life to following Him,

If I didn’t hang all my hopes on salvation and eternity,

Maybe then I would silence my doubts and move on to some easier way to live.

But I continue to walk His path, stumbling over hard truths as I go.

And periodically He reminds me that my wavering does not diminish Him in any way.

Because God is big enough—and gracious enough—to handle my doubts.

Doubts C S Lewis

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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HEroes 2I’ve been keeping my sister company during her recovery in a big-city hospital. Her room is on the seventh floor, and right outside the window is the helicopter pad.

So while she sleeps, I watch the life flight crews fly in.

I can only imagine the tragedies these folks see and the highs and lows of emotion they must experience—the rush they feel when all goes well or the heartache when even their best efforts are not enough to save someone.

Life Flight First RespondersSometimes they touch down and—with copter blades still churning the air—run into the building to deliver or receive a vital organ that will pass from one who lost his life to one who will now have a second chance at life.

These heroes remind me that in spite of man’s best efforts, life on earth eventually means broken lives and broken dreams—either for us or for someone we love.

But God did not create us in His image, shape our personalities, bestow our gifts and talents, and instill our dreams and desires, only to see our lives end before reaching our potential or seeing our dreams fulfilled.

When we give our hearts and lives to Him, He performs first aid on those lost dreams, restores them, and brings them to fruition in His perfect timing—which may be in the lifetime we live beyond these earthly years. 

Reach Your Dreams Erwin LutzerI love how Erwin Lutzer says it in The Vanishing Power of Death:

“Every shattered dream we give to Jesus is integrated into a higher and even more blessed purpose.

In short, if we have faith to believe it, there are no wasted sorrows, no wasted aspirations or dreams.

Even in this life, we see God is continually reshaping whatever we give Him.

Indeed, the Christian life is a series of new beginnings. God Himself rushes in to fill the vacuum left in the wake of our own disappointments.

Dreams left unfulfilled in this life will most assuredly be fulfilled in the life to come.”

In Christ we can be assured that Heaven will be the answer to all our dreams and that when our souls take flight from this earth, our real life will have just begun!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I created these graphics with iPhone pics & one free image from Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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If you’ve spent any time around here, you can tell that I enjoy playing with graphics—especially when it comes to sharing quotes.

I rely on God-breathed Scripture to convict and change me. But wise words hold power as well.

Many times in my life God has used the words of others to open my eyes to His truth or apply it to my life in a new way.

So I often feel compelled to pass those quotes on in hopes that they will bless and encourage others.

My tools of choice for creating graphics have been iPhone pics, the wonderful photos from Unsplash—which has a very open license (The site says, “Do whatever you want.”)—and, of course, PicMonkey, a site which lets me edit to my heart’s content.

With PicMonkey, I usually begin by cropping my photo to be square or Pinterest-pin shaped. (Graphics that are wider than they are tall don’t seem to show up well on my favorite sites—my blog, Pinterest & Facebook.)

While at Basic Edits, I check to see if my graphic needs to be sharpened, over-exposed, under-exposed, or color-enhanced—whatever will complement the quote I have in mind.

Then I click on Effects, where I can age my graphic, posterize it, turn it into a Poloroid, soften the focus, etc.

What’s nice about PicMonkey is that the arrows at the top of the pic always allow me to undo what I have done. Also, I can save my work along the way in case there’s a really great look I want to use at a later time.

Once I’ve played with Effects, I click on Text and copy & paste my quotes onto the graphic. Once I’ve done that I can change the alignment, color, and size of the words.

Then I get to play with the fonts. Some fonts allow me to “Bold” or “Italicize” them. Wider fonts are great for layering, which enables me to give the words a 2-D look.

My last step is adding a Frame. I pretty much always finish with Drop Shadow—even if I’ve used another frame before that. I feel like Drop Shadow makes my graphic “pop” when on my blog or in the Facebook stream.

***Recently, I discovered a new place to grab free graphics: Death to Stock Photo. I signed up for the free tier and have received two batches of photos so far.

Just click on the graphic to view sharing choices.

Charles Spurgeon qutoes Take a stand on the Bible

For this great Charles Spurgeon quote, I layered italicized Roman Antique font, white over black. The background originally looked like this before I cropped, enhanced & posterized. (I resized it for this post. You can grab it full-sized from the Unsplash site.)

Unsplash free graphic

Lifting othersHere, I layered the Special Elite font, white over black. The background originally looked like this before I cropped & enhanced. (I resized it for this post. You can grab it full-sized from the Unsplash site.)

Unsplash free graphic 2

Death to Stock Photo

The font for this graphic is Cardo bold. The graphic originally looked like this before I cropped, enhanced & posterized. (I resized it for this post. You can grab it full-sized by signing up to receive emails from Death to Stock Photo.)

Death to Stock Photos

I hope you’ve been encouraged by the quotes or helped by the how-to tips.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I created these graphics with free images from Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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