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A Visual of going BEYOND the typography

BEYOND the typography
to letting Scripture saturate your life

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Ponder this if you will…

In a moment’s notice, we can access the Bible on our phone, bookmark passages, and even magnify text if need be. We are blessed with the engagement opportunities afforded to us left and right. It is as painless as downloading an app. Free at that! WOW! Every mode luring each believer to go beyond the typography.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

What more could we desire? A prized prize and adored adornment can be displayed beyond a coffee table. We can showcase it on every device we own and pull up any passage regardless of our location. We can even screenshot verses of interest in the middle of a sermon and share it immediately on social media.

What a welcoming welcome. An opportunity to see past the layout we choose. A chance to experience the life-changing power the words hold. An open invitation to go beyond the charming print. An ability to interact with Scripture through exceeding levels of availability far outweighing anything previously offered. Oh, how attractive, tantalizing, and downright alluring.

Scripture Notebooking can do that for YOU!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

James 4:8a (NIV)

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Painting by Jesus Lugo
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Merry Christmas friends! What a glorious time to reflect on the beautiful gift of eternal life given to us through the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I encourage you to schedule intentional reflection time within the next few days and simply thank the LORD for His glorious love. As I began my scheduling, one question kept coming to mind, “Where would I be without this gift?” That statement really humbled my heart and encouraged me to carve out a special time with our Heavenly father over the next week. I hope it inspires you as well.

Refining Leader: Robin and her husband, Edward

Count down to 2022 is upon us! What is your vision for your spiritual journey in the year ahead? Now is the perfect time to ponder the new year growth steps for you. It is so important to be purposeful and deliberate when wanting to mature in Christ. What are your aspirations? What are God’s goals for you? What are some actions and commitments that it will require in 2022?

Refining Leader: Mandi and her spouse, Lee

As you begin thinking about the next steps in your spiritual growth, we want to help you discover practical and authentic ways to deepen your relationship with God. Here are a few of our commitments to you in 2022:

  1. We will continue offering discussion study sessions over books of the Bible because we are committed to deepening the knowledge of the LORD with you.
  2. You direct our serving ministry! Thank you for your encouragement to invest in a social media format to better serve you. Your following on Facebook and this blog is appreciated.
  3. We realize everyone may not be in a season to attend our online Bible studies, and that’s ok! Therefore, we plan to offer other avenues. Just like you, we are pondering, praying, and planning for 2022.
  4. SO, let me be the first to let you in on part of our plans…(drum roll please)…Refining is thrilled to introduce a “Notable Faith” focus AND our BIG kick-off will begin with a Note Booking RETREAT!

We are inviting you to participate April 21-23 for a getaway in Glen Rose, TX. This intentional time will be extremely laid-back. I promise this is less compact than any other retreat we have held. The setting alone will be a chance to get away, enjoy nature, and carry out some growth intentionality.

If you love Bible journaling, scrapbooking, visual art, or simply want to leave an illustrated legacy of a life in relationship with GOD this is the retreat for you. Listen, you don’t have to be crafty at all! We will share very practical steps, tips, and tricks to creating an illustration of “Notable Faith” from your Scripture intake.

Be on the lookout for more information soon!!!

Refining Founder: Genna (that’s me!), husband Shawn, and son Ryan
My other twin son, Kyle, his wife Shayla, and our adorable grandchildren: Jude & Sydney

Until then-MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Much love,

The Refining Ministry

Joy found in a Savior

Photo by David Orsborne on Pexels.com

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? You know the type of thing that happens out of the ordinary for no reason. Maybe someone left you flowers, a cupcake, and a devotional on your porch which you while away. What a wonderful display of tenderness and unselfish love. We might go as far as to call it “counter cultural”.

Jesus’ life is a perfect example of someone who did the unexpected. He loved the unlovable, accepted the rejects, forgave sinners, and the list continues.

Derwin Gray refers to the Messiah as “the counter-cultural king” who brought “a holy disruption.” Jesus was our perfect example to go beyond all worldly barriers and extend hope, peace, and love and in doing so we would experience pure joy of the LORD!

Paul wanted the world to fully know the Joy found in Jesus. He spoke directly to the Philippians and clearly stated ways to adjust one’s state of mind. We find this in the reading of Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near, 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul knew the joy that would come from living counter-culturally. He also knew the sacrifice it would take and the worldly consequences that would come. Yet, if Paul were among us today, I think he would bear witness to the extreme happiness within a believer when carrying out the father’s will.

Scripture reminds us in Romans 15:13 that we cannot produce joy that comes from God. He alone fills us with unexplainable joy-the kind of happiness that cannot be shaken by circumstances or the horrific events of this world.

In John 16:22, we read about the lasting joy given by God. Scripture promises us that no one can take away this special joy.

I have heard it said like this: “Jesus’s love brings peace even in difficult circumstances, contentment regardless of comfort, and joy in our eternal hope.” WOW! What a powerful statement very applicable to Advent.

This 3rd week of Advent, as we light the Joy candle, may we take time to reflect on the happiness from the birth of Jesus. May we remember-we don’t have to despair in our present world-WHY? – because Christ will come again. AMEN!

Heavenly Father,

This third week of Advent, let our hearts be flooded with your Joy and let us be overwhelmed with rejoicing. We are so grateful for the abundant joy you offer through the gift of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

May we always remember our joy doesn’t come from this world and it is a gift from you-a present that first Christmas to the world to extend a counter culturally love beyond our imaginations. Help us extend Your joy to those around us.

In Your precious name we pray. Amen

May you be encouraged to focus on the Joy of the Lord and carry out Philippians 4:8:

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”

Peace found in a Savior

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Has there ever been a time in life where you lacked peace?

This past week has been a whirlwind-some over the top experiences, amazing memories, stressful busyness, and one big jab to the heart. As things have settled a bit, I realized the unexpected news and what the future holds did not give me peace of mind. There is no doubt I left God’s peace out of the equation. I dare to say you might have been in my shoes a time or two yourself where your life lacked peace.

Somewhere this week I ran across a short analogy that hit home. It simply stated: “During the rush of angry weather, a bird sat on her nest with peace.” (Clearly that wasn’t me this week!) The story went on to define peace as truly having a calmness of heart amid the stressful chaos and trouble. What really caught my attention was the fact that peace was described as a state of mind, not a state of surroundings. This really went against my thinking: peace means to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble-NOT! Why would I need peace if there wasn’t a need for it?

If real peace is a state of mind, not the state of the surroundings, how can it be obtained? Listen, there was no way I could have produced the peace I needed a couple of days ago. However, my mindset was different when I settled down and called on the Holy Spirit’s power living within me. There is no doubt the peace and hope I received were a precious gift from the Father. A complete comfort washed over me when I stopped, focused, and relied on the LORD.  

In John 15:13 we read, “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” What peace comes when you know someone has your back, especially God. He is always with us, even when chaos is all around.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is music in these words, spoken by Jesus in John 14. 

I realized this week that I must practice the peace of God. I have to condition my mind to live in the father’s peace. It is essential for me to claim God’s peace within my body and practice what I preach: getting the body into a quiet state and breathing in the peace of God and exhaling the tension. 

As you walk through the second week of Advent, I encourage you to allow the Almighty God to touch the depths of your soul with His peace. Ask Him to fully disclose the meaning of what He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Please know His presence alone can deliver peace over any issues in your life. May He empower you with His peace and fill you to overflowing.

Advent Study!

For unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ the KING!

As Christmas approaches, the signs of it’s coming glisten our lives from beautiful sights and scrumptious smells to the hustle and bustle throughout the town. The world comes alive and goes to tremendous lengths to expose their expectancy of Christmas. No one can deny that the holiday preparation is in the air when the eagerness of the season begins. (Sometimes as early as October!)

Adventus, the Latin word for “coming” or “arrival”, seems quite fitting when Christmas countdown launches. Trees adorned within each house, lights shining brightly outside, extra goodies stocked in the pantry, and gifts waiting to be given. The time has come once again to embrace hot chocolate, pumpkin, peppermint, holiday spirits, cookies, cranberries, and lots of enticing material items. Let the Christmas celebration begin!

For years the world anticipated the day when the promise of deliverance would come to pass. They waited anxiously for the King who would be the ultimate gift of salvation. The world looked forward to the coming of the Savior. The day when He would give up His glory, walk this earth as a man, and become the eternal sacrificial lamb. It was God’s pledge because of His great love.

The “arrival” of the Messiah was completed through the birth of baby Jesus. Each Christmas we get the opportunity to pause and reflect upon this precious offering. Yet, it is also a time to be thankful for the redemption we find through Him, and look forward with anticipation for the second coming of the LORD.

This Christmas, the Refining ministry welcomes you to experience the presence of God through an Advent study. We invite you to join us as we intentionally prepare our hearts for the season by taking a closer look to the hope, joy, peace, and above all love found in Christ Jesus.

Come join us as we declare together, “No greater gift has been given than the redemption presented through this marvelous Messiah, our Savior and King.”

Email refiningjourney@gmail.com for the details. Kickoff will begin online Monday, November 29th at 6:00 pm (CST). You don’t want to miss this one!!!

How Visual Bible Intake Changed My Life

Wow! What an amazing fall day we are experiencing here. Crisp air, warm sun, slight breeze, and brilliant colors. It is days like these I want to capture and relive over and over because of the peace it seems to stir within my soul. The calmness of the weather washes over me in such a way that it fills me with tranquility despite any of life’s storms fulminating around me or within. Funny how quickly days like these can be wiped away when the 50 mph winds begin to blow and the temperatures drop into the single digits. This glorious day becomes an extreme distant memory I can barely revive.

When I encounter days like today, it brings me back to a time in my life where I desperately needed to encounter God and His Word differently. I longed to find true peace, joy, harmony, and calmness. I wanted it so infused into my veins that it would never leave my thoughts. There was a deep desire to seize the goodness of the LORD in such a way that I could seriously retain what the Father revealed to me through His Word.  

That was three years ago! In 2018, God opened the doors to many things and the Holy Spirit revealed a way for me to go beyond my stagnant spiritual intake. It took me getting really honest with the LORD and confessing my issues. (I had a lot & still do, my friend) Permit me to share one of the biggest issues.

Have you ever attended a Bible study, sermon series, or studied a book of the Bible and in the midst of it been blessed beyond measure? I know I have over and over. That feeling is like experiencing the most impeccable day. You feel empowered and encouraged. It always fired me up for the next book, sermon, bible study, etc.

However, for me, months down the road I could only say, “Yes, that was a good study.” I could not truly verbalize my take away or seem to pinpoint the personal message for me. The only recollect was “it was good while it lasted”-much like a triple chocolate ice cream cone with a dark chocolate shell on a hot summer’s day. I felt like I was just going through the motions and then forgetting the goodness of God and His promises.

Now let me be very transparent, this journey hasn’t been easy but God answered my request. He has gently and ever so patiently been revealing ways for me to visualize my relationship with Him. The LORD has shown me methods to remember beyond the sermon, book study, etc. and how to hold myself accountable. He has given me a beautiful gift beyond my wildest imagination. I am slowly learning to infuse more of Him into my daily living while leaving a visual legacy of my relationship with the LORD for generations to come.

The Refining Ministry will be sharing these simple, creative techniques through workshops and retreats in 2022. We are super excited about the new year and what God has in store. Let us show you how your individual Bible intake can be memorable through fresh and creative means.  Be on the lookout for details coming your way in January.  

Relationship Advice from Jesus

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Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

We all have various relationships-those which we inherited, those which we chose, those which were chosen for us, or simply those which just happened by chance. I dare to say, we all probably have one or two which we might still fantasize over because the connection never blossomed the way we hoped. But oh, the joy that comes from those precious relationships we hold near and dear. And how do they become the side of the coin where we say “Heads-I win”? Time-Conversations-Togetherness-Listening-Etc… What are your thoughts?

The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by Jesus as a roadmap to building the best relationship we could ever have-a connection with God. Our Savior did not set out for this to be a recited prayer as we know it today. In Matthew chapter 6, we find the building blocks to establishing a strong connection. It is His directives for us to carry out when seeking the most fulfilling relationship we could ever have – a personal connection with God.

Jesus wanted us to know how to start a quality relationship. As with anyone, it begins with sturdy framework. The LORD shows us over and over that relationships incorporate things like a desire to love unconditionally, to give of one’s self, and to be committed regardless of what comes. Jesus conveyed the elements of this foundation through the main concepts we find in the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus tells us -like every conversation we have- we must recognize who we are in conversation with. When we call 1-800-heaven let us remember we are talking with the Creator of the universe who cares for each one of us. This is no ordinary person. This is GOD! But in all relationships, we need to really know who we are connecting with and that takes dedication.

Relationships require intimacy and genuine care for each other (even the junk which comes with it-good days & bad). Remember, not everyone wants to get into the nitty gritty depth so they will only want a surface level connection. However, unlike some of our earthly relationships, God wants to be intimately involved in every part of our life. He cares for each one of us. He truly listens to us. Yes, even in our ranting and raging moments or when we are caught up in sin, God hears us, sees us, and loves us. That’s why Jesus advices us to pray for God’s plans will be worked out in our life (“your will be done”), and to bring even the most mundane matters of everyday living into our conversation with Him (“give us today our daily bread”).

Next, we want our relationships to be free of any barriers or miscommunication. Same with our LORD. That is why Jesus directs us to look at our sin. This three letter word is a roadblock between us and God and between us and others. Our Father wants us to have a heart willing to confess and repent our sins (“forgive us our debts”) and to forgive those who have wronged us (“as we also have forgiven our debtors”). In Matthew 6:14-15, the Bible highlights the significance of forgiveness and how important it is to extend mercy to those who have hurt us.

Finally, God wants us to live free from the painful consequences of sinful choices. We pray “lead us not into temptation” because we need His strength and assistance to keep us from temptation. Is it nice to know He has our back and promises to never leave us nor forsake us. God cares about us and wants us to live in community with one another. We are all His children and He is our ultimate Father. Yes, He wants us to live as one big happy family.

There is great value in relationships and may I dare to say abundant knowledge in all: precious or a struggle. Listen, our Lord didn’t intend for us to walk this pathway alone. That is why He is always with us and is open to hear what we have to say. But He wants us to live in relationship with others.

So take a moment and think about all the relationships in your life. How does God want your half of all relationships to look?

Let us be encouraged to embrace God’s method and be devoted for a lifetime to extend mercy, forgiveness, understanding, gentleness, kindness, hope, encouragement, joy, and most of all love to every relationship we have been gifted. May we be encouraged to not only make our time on earth matter, but chose for our lives to be a radiant beam of outstanding love so those after us will be encouraged to do the same.

Offensives Can Blur Our View-Part 3 (Guest Writer: Sheyanne Brown)

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

“Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15

            “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

How can we prevent the hurt we experience from turning into the sin of offense?

When you’re hurting, you need to talk about it with the person who hurt you. Most importantly, the intent of the conversation must be reconciliation. As we see in Matthew 5, God cares more about the state of our hearts than the sacrifices we bring to the altar. He cares less about my faithful church attendance and more about what’s in my heart while I’m in the pew.

It’s not enough to do all the “Christian” things. If it were, the Pharisees and Sadducees would have been pleasing to Jesus because they literally did everything “right.” Jesus chunked a grenade in the middle of their theology when He started calling attention to the condition of their hearts.

Instead of withdrawing when we are hurt, we must go to the person who hurt us and do everything we can to reconcile. It takes a lot of humility to admit you’re hurting. Pride will keep you from “going to your brother,” and that same pride will keep you in sin and outside the presence of God.

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6.

But… what happens if you go to your brother, and he refuses to reconcile with you? What if your brother does not see how he has hurt you, and instead inflicts more pain with his prideful resistance of your humble attempt to reconcile? What if you leave the attempt at reconciliation more wounded than when you came in? (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

            You forgive. (notice the period)

Forgiveness is a God-created concept, which means you do not have the power to do it on your own without God’s empowering grace. So, rest in knowing He doesn’t expect you to do this by yourself.

Your emotions will never desire to forgive, but that’s ok, because forgiveness doesn’t begin in your emotions anyway. Forgiveness begins with obedience. Forgiveness is required of every believer, because as we have received unmerited forgiveness from God, so we must give the same undeserved forgiveness to others.

Forgiveness does not mean that what they did wasn’t wrong. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you swing wide the doors of your heart and life to them again. Forgiveness simply means that you release someone of the debt they owe you, and you bless them even when they don’t deserve it.

            “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Luke 6:27-28

The key to forgiveness is blessing your enemy. If you find yourself on the same hamster wheel of trying to forgive but not feeling like you’re getting anywhere, begin to bless your enemy. Pray God would bless their hearts, their minds, and their bodies. Pray God would heal them and give them favor with Him and man. Pray over them what you would want someone to pray over you.

As you begin to obey the Word, you’ll find your heart will begin to release the hurt… the wounds will begin to heal… and your heart will be kept pure.

This “honeymoon” period at my new church may end and one day I might find myself knee deep in the messiness of life with people and new opportunities for hurt and offense. I’ll find out the Ark of the Covenant is not in the basement after all, and the reality that I am part of a family of imperfect believers will set in.

However, I have come to the place in my life where the most valuable thing I possess is access to the presence of God. I don’t want to go one moment without feeling Him near me and hearing Him speak.

There’s no wound or offense worth keeping compared to fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

I pray you will allow Him to begin softening your heart to His voice, and allow Him to heal the wounds you’ve been protecting. I pray in this place of healing, you’ll experience Him like you never have before.

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