December 2018

Submission

Dr. Rikki Permenter

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, 

to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 

Titus 3:1



In October our church’s nominating committee scoured our sanctuary’s pews to find the perfect teachers for each Sunday school class and the perfect volunteers for each committee. I’m not on that nominating committee (praise the Lord) but my husband is. This year I got volun-told to teach a Sunday school class. If we’re being fair, my husband volun-tells me to teach one every year - this year I just finally submitted to his God-given authority. (Yay for me being submissive, it only took 8 years.) I’m now the proud teacher of our Women’s Sunday school class. 

I think it took me 8 years to finally give in because I knew the huge responsibility that teaching a Sunday school class entails. Not only do you have to be there every Sunday (on time) but you have to be in the right frame of mind and with a lesson prepared. It isn’t just a Sunday-only gig, either. To do it right you truly want to live life with your class members and pray for them each by name regularly. 

Since it’s been a month or so, I’ve had time to reflect and I really do love to teach this class. I didn’t know I would love it as much as I do until I actually did it. God, like my husband, knows us better than we know ourselves. He calls us to do things that he knows we are equipped for and will enjoy. He presses it upon our hearts until we (finally) are submissive to the call. Is there any task that the Lord has laid upon your heart to do for a while that seems overwhelming? Is there a task that he keeps bringing to you that just don’t know if you would enjoy? Take time this new year to submit. You may find that He knows you better than you know yourself. You may find you do truly enjoy whatever it is he has equipped and called you to do.  


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 




November 2018

Even After You Quit

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but is shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 

Isaiah 55:11

One night this week our little weenie dog woke me up in the middle of the night and needed to go outside. She was standing on my chest pawing me like she was Lassie telling me little Timmy was in the well. I got up and walked to the back door and flipped on the outside lights and opened the door to let her out. I looked up through the back door windows and saw a whole deer family in our garden. I don’t know if I’ve updated you guys on the disaster that is our garden right now but it is done producing for the season and weeds have overtaken it. We kinda quit on it after we harvested the last of our jalapeños a few weeks back. 

The next morning while I was drinking my coffee God had me thinking about how sometimes He uses our efforts even when we have quit putting forth the effort, even when we have deemed it a failure, even when we think its past the point of being usable, and even when we don’t realize it. That whole deer family (mom, dad, a teenager looking deer, and two little babies) were all benefitting from something my husband did months and months ago that he had even quit thinking about. They benefitted in the middle of the night - when we were (supposed to be) sleeping and without our knowledge. 

How many times has God given you a ministry or project to do that you have deemed a failure? How many times have you seen something and thought that there was no way God could use this or anyone could benefit from it? You never truly see the full impact of your kingdom work. Sometimes people benefit from your efforts in the metaphorical middle of the night when you’re sleeping and you are totally unaware that anyone is even thinking about or still aware of all your hard work. Sometimes the people who benefit the most from your hard work aren’t even the people you intended to benefit at all. Keep this in mind when you get discouraged about kingdom work. Think bigger than your ideas and plans. His Word never comes back void. 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 



October 2018

Outside Your Car Experience

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.


If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

1 John 1:8


Unless you’ve been living under a rock you may have noticed that essential oils are all the rage lately. Some people have made the shift from pharmaceuticals to natural remedies whenever possible. I was not on board until a recent trip to Haiti. I had a minor ailment and talked to a nurse who was with us about how to treat it with what we had with us. She gave me a concoction of two essential oils to rub on it and I was cured. I was hesitant to believe it would work but I was willing to try. When it worked I was shocked and completely on board with essential oils. Now if you came to my house you would see an arsenal of different oils, smell all kinds of oils diffusing, and I would be rubbing them on my kid and even you for whatever ails you. I have a variety of diffusers and even have one for my car. 

I recently started diffusing lavender in my car while I’m driving. At first, when I get in and start it up it smells wonderful. After a while, in the car, I don’t notice it anymore. I thought my diffuser wasn’t working well. I didn’t notice until I got out at the post office the other day and got back in that my car really smelled strong… like super strong… like I bet the car next to me at a red light could smell it. When I was in the middle of it and it was all around me I didn’t notice it getting stronger and stronger. I couldn’t even really tell it was there. When I had this realization I could almost hear God saying to me, “this is what sin is like.” 

At first, you notice sin and it is obvious to you but the longer you surround yourself with it and immerse yourself in it the less likely you are to see it. If you were to step outside of your life and look over it would be totally obvious to you, too but when you’re in the middle of sin you can’t always see it. When you grow accustomed to sin it begins to feel normal to you. Do you need to take an outside look at your life today? Take a minute to pull over at an imaginary post office, put your car in park, get out, and then get back in. What do you see, smell, hear, and feel? Is there sin that you have grown accustomed to? Is there sin that is has gotten so strong that others can see it from the car next to you at a red light and you are oblivious to it? Take a minute to pray that God gives you an outside your car experience this week. 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

September 2018

What would Jesus do?

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

Luke 19:10

A few months back I was sitting in a women’s Bible study in town. One of the “assignments” the curriculum asked us to do was to informally interview a person who didn’t identify as a Christian and document their answers to discuss with the group when we met next. During the week allotted I realized that I didn’t routinely interact with anyone who didn’t identify as a Christian. Anyone I could interview would essentially be a stranger to me that I walked up to in a store or at the gas station. This made me sad. When the group met the next week, each of the fifteen or so members had the same story. This made me really sad. That same day I had a serious conversation with my husband about how I can’t share the Gospel with people if I’m not around them. That same week I applied to teach a class at a secular university — just so I could be around people who don’t necessarily identify as Christian. 

The more I thought about this experience the more I thought about the WWJD bracelets of the early 90s. What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do? He surrounded himself with all kinds of people… on purpose. He didn’t just hang out with his friends who looked like him, thought like him, and liked the same things he liked. Do you spend time with all kinds of people? Or do you only spend time with your friends, family, or church family? Do you put yourself in the path of non-Christian with the expressed purpose of leading them to Christ? 

This month consider how you can make yourself available to non-Christians around you. What can you do to interact with them on a routine basis to get to know them and to help them get to know Jesus? How can you imitate Jesus in seeking out the lost with the intent of pointing them to the one who saves?



This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 















August 2018

Just Around the Corner

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

 

 

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

 

 

    My husband and I have a beautiful, spunky, and very social 7-month-old daughter. She loves nothing more than to hang out with us all day. Normally her stuffed tiger or her pet weenie dog is perfect company and keep her completely entertained. She doesn’t necessarily want my husband or I to hold her all day - she just wants to know we’re there. When she is playing in her baby gym while were in the front of the house we have it set up where we can always see her. The thing is, she is short and everything else is tall. She can’t always see us. Occasionally, we will be doing something and she will realize that she can’t see us and will think we have left her all alone. She will let out a loud wail almost demanding we save her from some peril that we know doesn’t exist. All we have to do is peak our head from around the corner, or over a sofa, or from behind the island and her face will break out in the biggest grin. She knows she is safe because we are right there, and have been right there all along. She just couldn’t see us. 

    Sometimes I’m just like my daughter. I get caught up in life with the adult equivalent of a stuffed tiger, a pet weenie dog, or a play gym and look up and think I’m all alone. I can’t see God. I can’t see what He is doing, where He went, and I don’t know when He is coming back. I freak out and I cry out to God. I ask him where He has been, why He left me all alone, and wonder if I did something to warrant the abandonment. That the point when He sticks His head out from whatever is in my way and I see He has been right there all along. He could see me the whole time - it was just from my vantage point that I couldn’t see Him. The peril I was facing seems to vanish when I focus on Him. 

    Think about your relationship with God. Do you feel that he is far off? Do you think He has left you alone to fend for yourself? Just call out to Him and He will show you that He has been right there all along — you just couldn’t see Him from where you were sitting. 

 


 

his article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

 

July 2018

Taking the First Step

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

“He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

Matthew 14:29

 

 

    Last week I met a guy named Randy. We were on a short-term mission trip in Haiti. This was Randy’s first mission trip. When he heard about the trip he was unsure of what he would like to do once we got there. He could choose from construction, VBS, or teaching at a pastor’s conference. Teaching wasn’t really his thing. VBS wasn’t something he really wanted to do. Construction could be a fit for him - but he didn’t really do construction at home. He knew God was calling him to make the trip but he didn’t quite know why. He was obedient and made the trip - hoping it would make more sense when he got there and God would use him in some way. 

    Last week civil unrest broke out in Haiti. Our mission team was locked down on a compound for four days. While we were there a few men gathered together and made plans to keep our mission team safe. Randy is active military. Randy was gifted in securing a perimeter, being on the lookout for things that don’t belong, and keeping his team safe. God had plans for Randy but didn't tell him about them until he needed to know. Because of Randy’s obedience, even when he didn’t fully understand why, our team was kept safe. 

    Sometimes God doesn’t tell you all the details you would like to know. Sometimes he places a seemingly random thing on your heart or He calls you to do a thing that doesn’t make sense. Remember this story about Randy - remember that God knows what he is doing even when you don’t. He has a way of putting you in the right place, at the right time, with the right skill set to give Him glory. 

    Ask yourself this month how God can use you. Work on developing the trust to follow God even when you don’t fully understand. When he says “Come” — don’t ask question or second guess. Just get out of the boat. 

 

 


his article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

June 2018

Warfare

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

Screwtape, C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters

 

 

    In C.S. Lewis’ fictional Screwtape Letters a young demon, Wormwood, is being discipled by an older and more experienced demon, Screwtape. Screwtape tutors Wormwood on how to trip up a would-be believer and new believer. When it comes to spiritual warfare most people give the devil way too much credit or nowhere near enough credit. They either assume a demon is hiding behind every bush or they don’t think about demons at all. 

    According to Screwtape, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.” The best work of the devil is to keep you from thinking of spiritual things. In Romans 12:2 we’re reminded “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We must re-new our mind to think upon spiritual things. In psychology, this is known as cognitive behavioral therapy -  or changing the way you think, to change the way you feel, to change your behaviors. One of the only things you can really change about yourself naturally is the way you think. You can actually change how your brain works by changing the way you think. 

    This month, take time to remind yourself to think of the spiritual realm. Are you thinking too much of it or not enough? Do you give the devil and demons more credit than they are due or not enough? Take time to make habits to renew your mind and help you to remember things of the spiritual world.

 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

May 2018

Get Up and Eat

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you. 

1 Kings 19:7

 

 

    How do you know when your life is too chaotic - when you’ve overextended, said yes too many times, and taken on more than you should? Do you have a way to gauge? In my counseling practice I’ve noticed that most people don’t realize it until it is way too late - until they are burned out, stressed, and resentful. 

    In 1 Kings 19: 1-8 Elijah flees to Horeb. If you’re into trash talking prophets I encourage you to read the chapters around it, too - but, long story short - Elijah had just, through the power of the one true God, defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel and was fleeing for his life. He seems a little depressed and lonely at this point - if you ask me. During this time the Lord gives him a task to do but also says to get up and eat because they journey will be too hard- or in other words, take care of yourself because life is hard and you can’t do it if you don’t. 

    The gauge people can use to identify when life is too much is failure to maintain self-care. Everyone has different self-care items that are the first to go when life is hard. Usually sleep is first to go but I’ve asked around a complied a list others: reading the Bible, tithing, washing your face, making your bed, bathing, eating “real” meals, spending time with friends, exercising, and spending time in leisure activity. I’m not sure what it is for you but if you’re not taking care of yourself, hear me; “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” If you’re not taking care of yourself first you can’t take care of anyone else and you will make completing the tasks that the Lord puts you in front of you much more difficult or even impossible. 

    Take time this month to evaluate your self-care - are you taking care of yourself well? A great way to identify is to ask yourself, “Am I treating myself the way I encourage others to treat themselves? Am I doing the things I need to do so I feel refreshed spiritually, emotionally, and physically?” 

 


 

This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

April 2018

I Need Thee

Dr. Rikki Permenter, Ph.D., Th. M.

Behold, God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. 

Psalm 54:4

 

 

    “I need thee every hour most gracious Lord. No tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee, oh! I need thee. Every hour I need thee. Oh bless me now my savior I come to thee.” These lyrics to a popular hymn have run through my mind regularly over the past few months. What does it mean to need someone or something? 

    In American culture the idea of being free from need is prized over dependence on any person or thing. We are taught at a young age not to depend on others, rather to be independent. Needing the Lord is not something that doesn’t come naturally to the American Christian because we are trained not to need. 

    Over the last two months I have become keenly aware of needing something every hour. As you guys know, I had a baby in January. That baby needs me. For a solid month she awakened every hour, like clockwork needing to eat. As I would sit and feed her that sweet hymn “I need thee … oh! I need thee” would run through my mind. The Lord has been impressing upon me the question “When was the last time you truly acknowledged your need for me every hour?” 

    Take some time this month to reflect on your need for the Lord. Maybe you don’t have a newborn baby to remind you every hour but you can set and alarm on your phone to remind you to reflect upon your dependence. Take time to acknowledge all the ways in which He sustains you every hour. 

 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

March 2018

Changing Seasons

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knows his going down.

Psalm 104:19

 

 

    The seasons are starting to change. The air feels different. Spring is on its way. The world works on seasons. Most of the world has winter, spring, summer, and fall - around here its more like deer hunting, crawfish, swimming pool, and football. While the weather’s seasons may be hard to notice since it's usually between 70 and 90 degrees most of the year, there are other seasons in your life worth looking at, too. Examples of these other seasons are the seasons of parenting, the seasons of work or retirement, the seasons of college life and singleness, and the seasons of service and ministry. 

    God has ordained seasons of service and ministry in your life. At different points in life, he will equip you for different types of service and ministry. No one ministry is usually meant for a lifetime. Our spiritual gifting fluctuates and are based on our life experience and equipping. Some seasons God has specific ministries for you to start and some seasons he has specific ministries for you to stop. Some seasons of life you will be the most equipped to teach a children’s Sunday school class - some seasons of life that may be the last thing you feel you’re equipped for. 

    What season of ministry and service are you in right now? What ministry is God calling you to start and what ministry is God calling you to stop? Just like you fluctuate - others will, too. Whenever God calls you to stop a ministry He will bring someone up behind you to fill in and keep the other one going - if that is part of His plan. When he calls you to start a ministry He will give you the place to do it. Take a minute to evaluate your season of ministry and service and identify what he has specifically equipped you to do right now. Are you doing it? If not, take this as a sign - its time to start! 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

February 2018

Having a Love for Life

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

Question 1. What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. 

Westminster Shorter Catechism

 

    I often hear people talk about the Christian life like it is a series of unfortunate events. They frame their conversation like living as a Christian causes them to miss out on the “good life” and the fun things the world has to offer. Sometimes in counseling, I hear people say things like “I knew it was what God wanted because it was exactly what I didn’t want to do.” Or I’ll hear them say things like “I’ll start living the Christian life once I’m older and want to settle down so that I won’t miss out on all those fun life experiences.” Have you ever heard people speak like this? Anytime I hear people speak like this I almost get offended. The Jesus I know doesn’t want you to miss out on the fun things in life. The Jesus I know leads you to the most fun and fulfilling things in life - he leads you to the most memorable life experiences. 

    If you’ve never heard of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, then you’re missing out. Its a great summary of the things Christians believe about a variety of topics in a clear and concise manner. The “things” are in the format of questions and answers. The very first question is about man’s purpose. The Bible holds that man’s purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Did you catch that … and ENJOY him forever. Are you enjoying God? Do you have a love for the Christian life you’re living? If you don’t, then you’re missing the real Christian life, you’re missing Jesus, and you’re missing the God of the Bible. Life is meant for enjoying God. We’re meant to live an abundant life that we love. Take some time during this Valentine's season where we focus on love and identify if you truly love your life and truly love the God of the Bible. If you don’t - any area minister would love to talk with you about how to start glorifying God with your life and thoroughly enjoying him forever. 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

January 2018

Being Content with Less

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether all fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Philippians 4:11-13

 

    Oh, Paul, he is my favorite. He writes to the church at Philippi and explains how he is content with what he has. Can you honestly say you are content with what you have? January is always an interesting time of the year. The holidays, are past us and usually, we’re trying to make space in our house to find homes for the gifts we have received. I don’t know about you but getting gifts usually creates an “If you give a mouse a cookie” situation at my house. If you haven’t read this children’s book, the premise is if you give a mouse a cookie, he will need some milk, and a napkin, and glass for the milk, and a plate… the list goes on and on.

    If I'm honest I’m just like that mouse in that book - if you give Rikki a shirt, she will need new pants to go with it, and a necklace, and flats, and probably new make-up and hair products - and to build out my closet with storage, so it all fits… the list will go on and on.  I’ll ask again, can you honestly say you’re content with what you have? Or do you have a running list of needs (really wants) that drive you to work harder to get money to get things? Paul writes about being content in every circumstance. He writes about living in plenty and living in want - he knows and has experience both. He seems to have found the secret. 

    The secret Paul found is being contented where God has placed him with the resources he had given him. The secret is having his focus so firmly on Christ that the “stuff” doesn’t matter anymore. Do you have shelter, food, clothing? Good. That is all you need. If you give a mouse a cookie - the mouse needs to thank the giver for the cookie, he doesn’t need anything else. This thankfulness leads to contentment. Where are you just like that mouse? Where do you need to shift your focus from wanting the next thing to be thankful for what God has already given you? 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

December 2017

Being a Truly Cheerful Giver

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sown bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give what he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

 

    Christmas stresses me out. I’m not talking about the actual celebration of the birth of Jesus; I’m talking about the Americanized, consumeristic holiday with the Coca-Cola Santa as its mascot. I really hate compulsory giving. I hate the idea of people spending money they don’t have to buy things for people that they don’t actually need (or sometimes even want) to meet a social standard that American culture had deemed appropriate. This year I’ve made a vow to myself to give fewer, better, prayed-over and well-thought-out gifts. 

    In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes about giving generously and cheerfully. As you sit and reflect on this Christmas gift-giving season, are you giving generously and cheerfully? Or are you giving reluctantly and sparingly? Are the gifts you are giving enhancing your celebration of the greatest gift God has ever given the world? Do they help focus your intentions on imitating God in being a good gift giver? Or are these gifts given compulsory and reluctantly? Don’t base this on how much you have to spend financially or the time you have allotted to it. Base this on the motive of your heart and if the process of giving cultivates a love of God and his greatest gift. 

    If you’re sitting in your chair right now wondering how to take back the holiday from the Coca-Cola Santa (don’t hear me saying Santa is inherently bad) think about the real St. Nicholas and his secret gift giving. He gave to others out of love for them and wanted to care for them. His gifts didn’t put a strain on him financially or relationally. He lived a lifestyle of giving. He didn’t go all out for one night and then have to pay creditors back all year long for his excess. He lived a generous lifestyle as a joyful giver. He gave small tokens of his love that people needed or wanted with no expectations. 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

November 2017

Thankfulness leads to Generosity

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

 

        Thanksgiving always has been my favorite holiday. I know - you’re thinking “not Christmas or your birthday?” No — not Christmas or even my birthday. Every year I look forward to the celebration- watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cooking the best-ever cornbread dressing, decorating the table, having family over, avoiding hot topics with those family members, playing dominoes, eating the best-ever cornbread dressing, then sneakily packing a to-go container with the rest of the best-ever cornbread dressing. November is always a time people talk about being thankful for what they have since America has an entire holiday set apart for it. There is honestly no better way to kick off the holiday season than to ponder upon what you are thankful for. 

    In Lamentations, Jeremiah writes of the Lord’s steadfast love and mercies being new every morning. He writes of how the Lord gives to each of us, freely and generously, every day so, we never run out. The Lord generously provides for our needs, and we can follow his example. Let the start of this holiday season be the kickstart of a time of generosity and giving in your life. The response of a thankful heart is generosity and openhandedness. Like a small child who never questions if their caregivers will come when they cry - we have a good Father who provides for us in our times of need. 

    Ask yourself how you can give to others out of your excess. Take inventory of your surplus. Find ways to meet the needs of others in a fun and creative way. Each of us has things in our home that are a little excessive - maybe its a stockpile of toiletries, or canned vegetables, or clothing you’re just holding on to. Find a way to use what God has blessed you with (in excess) to meet the needs of others around you.

    


 

This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

October 2017

Grumbling Against the Lord

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 

Numbers 16:41a

 

 

    Last month I disclosed to you guys about a long-awaited answered prayer from the Lord. The Lord gave me something I’ve been praying (and begging if we're being honest) for. He gave it to me in His time and in His way, but none the less He gave me what I wanted. I found myself praying a very strange prayer just this week. I found myself having a conversation with the Lord that sounded a little something like this, “ I know I asked you to get pregnant Lord, but I didn’t really think you were going to do it… I know you may not know this, Lord, but you have to go to the doctor a lot when you’re pregnant, and medical bills are really expensive. I’m stressing Lord because I didn’t really budget for us to meet our insurance deductible this year… did you know our deductible is thousands of dollars out of pocket, Lord?” 

    Last month I disclosed to you guys that the Lord performed a miracle in my life. He made a person, like from scratch, and is letting me grow it. He performed the miracle of creating a life. I saw this miracle happen - heck; this miracle happened to me. This month I’m worried about paying bills. I’m doubting the Lord will provide financially when just not that long ago He made a whole tiny person just for me. 

    In the book of Numbers, the tale of the Israelites is woven through the desert. I’m always shocked about how quickly they forget about how the Lord provides for them. He parted a sea, gave them a pillar of smoke and fire to follow, rained down pita bread and rotisserie chickens from the sky, and lead them to a land he promised them. God performs some huge miracle for them and poof, the next day they are grumbling and complaining again. 

    Where in life are you focusing on the small things and doubting God’s ability to provide? Where do you forget the huge miracles He has performed and the mountains He has already moved just to get stuck grumbling about something that is so much smaller? Take a minute to think about miracles God has performed in your life and craft a prayer of thanksgiving to Him. Take another minute to survey the small things you doubt about that are getting in the way. Remember, God is big enough to handle both the impossible and the mundane. 

    


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

September 2017

Waiting for the Lord

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. 

Psalms 27:14

 

 

    My husband and I have been married almost seven years. We are expecting our first child in January. It is an exciting time. Over the last seven years, I’ve had what seems like more than my fair share of well-meaning others inquire about why we didn’t have any kids yet. While I consider myself an open person - fertility isn’t something I usually talk about at the local football game or during the meet and greet time on Sunday mornings. 

    We have wanted to have kids for years. We’ve prayed to have kids for years. We have patiently waited to have kids for years. All the while it didn’t seem to be in the cards for us. We even went to the doctor to get checked out and everything was fine. It wasn’t until God saw fit that he blessed us with the sweet little baby that will grace us with its presence soon. The more I've prayed through this, the more I’ve only heard God say the same thing: I wanted you to have this kid…This specific kid. 

    I don’t want to get all science lesson on you here but any other month, and it wouldn’t have been this specific kid. God is the God of the details. He cares about the specifics in your life. He wants specific things for you - not just any kid … this kid. You can fill in the blank there. Not just any ______ … this ______ . He knows your wants, hears your prayers, and sees your patient waiting. Things all come in His time because the specifics are important to him. He doesn’t give us what we think we want when we think we want it. He gives us what is in our best interest, on his timetable, that will give Him the most glory. Take some time today to thank God for caring about the details of your life. Pray that he will give you strength and courage as you wait for the specific things he has for you. 

    

 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

August 2017

When Your Life Feels in the Weeds

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. 

2 Thessalonians 2:13

 

 

    Like I’ve told you guys before, my husband and I have a garden. I talk a big game about it but it is sort of a disaster. I’m positive the deer and birds have enjoyed it way more than we we have this year. The problem we’ve encountered is weeds. This year we started out hopeful but we really didn’t give our garden the attention it deserved. With all the rain (and heat) we didn’t spend adequate time weeding and pruning. This year we maybe got 5 tomatoes when last year by now we probably had 100. 

    Yesterday, I was standing outside looking at the huge mess of a weed garden and I was thinking about how weeds are kind of like sin in our life. Weeds pop up without your wanting them, they grow without you fussing over them, and the choke out any real veggies you’re trying to grow if you don’t actively stop them. All you really need to do for weeds to thrive is ignore them. Sin is just this same way. Sin sneaks into your life and if you aren't actively praying against it and striving for holiness you’ll find yourself and your good intentions being choked out. 

    These thoughts really convicted me this week. Where in your life are you ignoring sin? Where in life are you complacently just going through the motions? Where in life (if you’re being honest with yourself ) do you just need to bush hog and start over next season fresh? Take a minute to evaluate- ask God and he will show you areas you need to pursue intentional holiness. 

 

Author Bio

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th.M., is the owner of Bent Tree Counseling in Clinton, La. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in the state of Louisiana. She is the wife of Cole Permenter, pastor of Bluff Creek Baptist and a doctoral student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Interested in counseling or have questions? Check out her website www.benttreecounseling.com.


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

July 2017

Becoming

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

 

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 

2 Thessalonians 2:13

 

 

    Around my house, we have an ongoing joke that my husband is going through the process of progressive “Eddie”fication rather than the process of progressive sanctification. I'm not referring to edification here- the building up of the body- this is more of a joke. His dad is named Eddie, and it seems like every day he becomes more and more like him. They are so similar in looks, mannerisms, likes, dislikes, and quirks. He is becoming his father just as each of us is becoming something. 

    Have you ever heard that you become the average of the five people you spend most of your time around? The more you spend time with people the more you begin to mirror them. Have you ever noticed that friend groups tend to dress alike, have similar interests, similar goals, and have similar hobbies? It is a psychological phenomenon. You become like others naturally.

    Becoming more and more like Jesus each day is unnatural. The process of progressive sanctification is so very contrary to what we as people do naturally. When we spend time with others, they change us from the outside in. The Spirit of God does the opposite. He changes people from the inside out. 

    Take a minute to take stock of your life. Do you look more like your friends, your family, or Jesus? Is he transforming you through the process of progressive sanctification, more and more every day into his image? If he isn't’ - asks yourself the hard question of why. Every child of God is on their path of progressive sanctification - where are you?

 

Author Bio

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th.M., is the owner of Bent Tree Counseling in Clinton, La. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in the state of Louisiana. She is the wife of Cole Permenter, pastor of Bluff Creek Baptist and a doctoral student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Interested in counseling or have questions? Check out her website www.benttreecounseling.com.


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

June 2017

Great Expectations

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

- John 14:6

 

 

    As I sit writing today I am at youth camp. I”m not quite sure how I get roped into helping plan youth camp every year - but I do. This year we’re near the beach. It is fun for the kids. They don’t get to travel to the beach often. In preparation I’ve planned all kinds of outdoor large group games. We plan to have a kickball tournament, a volleyball tournament, and a messy games relay. I’d though through all of my favorite youth camp games, done some googling, and headed to Wal-mart. I had all the details worked out. I had great expectations for how things would turn out. Only one problem - once we arrive at camp it has rained every day, pretty much all day. In my mind - these games were ruined! The kids would have no fun, and camp would be a disaster. Things were not playing out exactly how I had planned them. 

    We have great expectations for life, too. When life throws you a curve ball it is easy to think it is time to throw in the towel and give up. It is easy to crumble under the weight of the expectations we’ve set. Take curveballs as a time to be flexible. Things can end up better than planned when you have to accommodate for life. You know what is more fun than a kickball game? A mud kick ball game in a rain storm. The kids had a blast. They made memories with each other that will last forever. Life can be that way, too. If you allow yourself to see things from another perspective. If you need help seeing life from another perspective - just consult the Helper you have been given - he is great at helping you see things from a different angle. 

    

 

Author Bio

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th.M., is the owner of Bent Tree Counseling in Clinton, La. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in the state of Louisiana. She is the wife of Cole Permenter, pastor of Bluff Creek Baptist and a doctoral student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Interested in counseling or have questions? Check out her website www.benttreecounseling.com.


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter. 

May 2017

Fresh Starts

Rikki Permenter, MAMFC, Th. M.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven

- Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

    It is the end of the school year. Seniors are graduating (kindergarten, high school, and college). Life is full of recitals, awards banquets, championships, and final games. Things are coming to a natural end. It is the ebb and flow of life in America. Church programs wrap up with the school year, and in a few short months, everyone gets a fresh start. There truly is a season for everything and summer is the season for ends and new beginnings. 

    In your life do you think you need a fresh start? Do you feel the desire to turn over a new leaf or begin a new journey? Sometimes you think you need to wait until January to being again. Hear me here; you don’t! Any Monday is just as good as any other for a fresh start. Let’s put things into perspective - new years resolutions don’t work. Small things you add into your daily schedule work. If you want to start regularly flossing the best way to get there is to start by flossing one tooth each day after you brush. Soon the two things become connected. It is exponentially easier to jump from flossing one tooth daily to flossing all of your teeth than the jump is from not flossing at all to flossing one tooth daily. You can trick your mind into creating a big habit out of a small one. 

    Since this is a season for change - let’s be proactive about the small changes you want to make in your life - hit your fresh start running. 

    

 


This article can be found in print in the monthly Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana newsletter.