Wednesday, December 28, 2011
I am so excited about this "reason!" I have so many "reasons" to write about, but they will all just have to wait. This one is a life-changer for me, and I think that if every Christian in America understood this principle, we would have a vastly different Church.
Our Lord gives us a Goal. Now I am a competitive person. I am also a goal-motivated person. If a goal is not set for me, then I set one for myself. "I want to have this project finished by 10:25." "I should be able to have read this whole book by the end of the weekend." "I will introduce myself to 3 new people at this conference." And certainly, there is no greater feeling than the elation that comes from having actually met my goal! I think a lot of us are like that. God gives us a gift when He gives us the satisfaction of meeting a goal.
Do we realize that God Himself has given us an over-arching Goal to meet? As we frantically scurry about our daily tasks, do we forget that there is only one Goal that truly matters? That Goal is Christ.
I watched the movie "Chariots of Fire" for the first time 2 nights ago. This is the story of Eric Liddell, missionary to China and an Olympic runner. Although I can't say I was crazy about every part of the movie, some of the scenes impacted me more than I realized at the time.
The next morning, during my quiet time, the Lord gave me a mental picture that I pray I will never forget.
The scenes of Eric Liddell and his fellow runners played through my mind once again. These men were dedicated. They devoted their whole life to training for the race. They lived and breathed to run. This was their passion.
And to watch them during the race...feet pounding toward the finish line, sweat pouring down their faces, arms and legs a blur as they gave every ounce of their strength to reach the end, eyes fixed on the finish line. Holding nothing back - nothing.
Look at this man. It is an understatement to say that he has a goal. His goal is his life! The two are intertwined. They have become one.
Oh Christians, could this be the picture of our lives, as we strive towards our goal?
This life is a race. Our finish line is Christ. The moment we take our last breath, we cross that finish line. Are we running to win? Do we have our eyes fixed on the Finish Line?
Hebrews 12:1-2 - "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."
I am done forever with joining the rest of Christianity in their leisurely stroll along the race track. I am done with America's distracted worship, half-hearted passion, and lukewarm love. I was there for all too long. I do not blame or judge, because this was the picture of my life for years. But oh, I am so thankful that God has given me a vision for something different! I am so thankful that He has given me this Goal, to finish well, to run with my last surge of strength into the arms of Christ, proclaiming with the apostle Paul,
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness...." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
I love my Lord because He has given me a Goal!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
My heart has been full these past two days. The beautiful verse in 1 John 4:19 has become so much more real to me.
"We love Him, because He first loved us."
In the past, when I thought of the cross, I always thought of Christ's sacrifice. Of Christ's pain. Of Christ's suffering. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend." And He loved me, while I was yet a sinner, despising Him and fleeing from His grace.
Yes, it is incredible to think of the sacrifice that Christ made that we might live. Yet, somehow I had never really considered the breathtaking love of the Father to make such a decision to send His Son for this lost world.
My dad mentioned yesterday that he had a 20- minute Youtube video he wanted to show my Mom and sister and me, and so we all crowded around the computer. The video portrayed in a very small way what the Father must have experienced as He watched His Son die (you can view it above). I could not hold the tears back as I understood for a tiny moment the awesome fact -
He loved His Son. But He loved me just as much.
He could have saved His Son. But He chose to save me instead.
Oh and when I understand this fact - that He LOVED me - how can I not love Him in return? How can I not adore Him? How can I not be willing to forsake all, just to sit at His feet to learn to love Him more?
1 John 4:10 - "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
May each of us learn to embrace the Father's indescribable love in our lives.
I love my Lord, because He gave His Son.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
If blogs had feelings, this one's feelings would be hurt.
Thankfully, they don't. And my 3 faithful readers of this blog probably haven't even noticed that I haven't posted updates in a while. :) So the repercussions of my slowness in posting are relatively small.
Actually, the only repercussion I can think of is one that affects me only. I have missed these updates. Finding "reasons" focuses me more intently on the Lord and on my love for Him. Heaven knows I need refocusing. Does it not seem ironic that the ONE important thing in life - the only thing that matters at all - is the ONE thing that I find easy to let slip by?
I am reminded of the simple, yet profound lesson that Christ taught in Luke 10:38-42. At Mary and Martha's house in Bethel, Martha scurried about, trying to fix the perfect meal for Jesus. The stove just wouldn't work right, and the dishwasher leaked water all over the floor (ok, maybe not) and everything was taking twice as long as it should have.
And all the while, her dreamy sister - Mary - sat idly with Jesus. Verse 39 - "And...Mary...sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His Word." The nerve!
In utter frustration, Martha came to Jesus with these words, "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? (!) Bid her therefore that she help me."
And what did Jesus say? His answer just about knocked me over when I read it the other day.
"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things...
...But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Only one thing? In the midst of daily to-do lists that exceed the length of a regular sheet of paper - in the midst of dozens of ideas and dreams and plans for the next semester - in the midst of an impossible mountain of changes to make in my spiritual life -
What is this one thing? It is simply this: to enjoy the presence of my Lord and Savior. To rest in His love. To hear His voice. It is to abide in Him.
I have only had brief glimpses of what this looks like. It looks like waking up with Christ as my first thought. It looks like talking to Him all throughout the day. It looks like pondering His words (Scripture verses) as I go about my work. It looks like seeing Him in every instance that happens in my life. Yes, I've only had brief glimpses of what this looks like. And I want it more.
Oh, how can I possibly stay focused on Him when the glitter of this world surrounds me on all sides? How can I possibly rest in Him when a thousand distracting thoughts go screaming through my mind every minute? If only I could see the "riches" of this world for what they really were. Cheap. Flimsy. Dishonest. Shallow. Vague. Unsatisfying. Trashy. Worthless.
The only thing I know to do is to pray for new eyes. To pray for a new heart. I know that when I seek the Lord with all my heart, I will find Him. When I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me.
I cannot do it - at all - on my own, but as I abide in Him, He will do it through me (John 15).
I love my Lord, because He invites me to abide in Him.
Friday, October 28, 2011
So often, I don't understand why things happen the way they do. This past week, I was desperately trying to find a way to attend a photography workshop in San Antonio that I so wanted to be able to participate in. I'm a dreamer, and I never run out of new things to pursue, and new places to go, and new people to see! :) My poor sister and parents just roll their eyes at me.
But I was so hopeful that the answer would be yes and that I could go!
My dad gave me his final answer a couple days ago. It was "no."
He had good reasons. But of course I was disappointed. Of course I felt let down. And of course I let myself ask God the question we all ask Him way more often than we should.
I didn't understand then, but I knew that I had two choices. I could pout, or I could trust. I could become angry, or I could be grateful. I could focus on my disappointment, or I could give a sacrifice of praise.
Sitting here today in front of my computer, suddenly and without explanation, I understood. All last week, my mind was focused on the workshop, and the new possibilities that might open up from what I learned. I was totally wrapped up in a new pursuit.
I believe that at this point, God didn't want me to have a new pursuit, or a new dream, or a new passion. I believe He knew that if I followed through and went to San Antonio, perhaps my focus would have shifted to these new opportunities, and I would have become distracted. Is photography wrong? Not at all, and my dad thinks that it will definitely be a future pursuit for me. It simply wasn't the right timing. Photography - or music - or even ministry - can only be a good thing if it doesn't become the main thing.
This is so new for me - this desire to live my life wholly for Him. This desire to have a burning passion to know Him more. And I am realizing with a thrill that He wants me to love Him. He is jealous for my love. And He doesn't want to let anything stand in the way of that.
He is guiding me - gently but firmly - down the path of His best.
I love my Lord, because He directs my steps.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5).
Isn't that beautiful? I'm 19 years old, and I'm a girl, and girls love to dream, and girls love romance stories and fairy tales. Prince and Princess ride off in the sunset on a noble white steed into the sunset, and they live happily ever after. *sigh*
And so go the stories...stories that would have me believe I can never be happy as a single girl. Stories that would whisper in my ear, "You'll never be complete until that special someone comes into your life..."
I beg to differ!!
Right now, at this very moment, I have a Husband! I have a Lover! And this is no ordinary groom, but my soul's Husband willingly laid down His life for me.
Oh, how I wish I could know the extent of his love for me. How I wish I could understand the depth of His commitment to me. And how I wish that I could love Him more.
Yes, what a beautiful paradox! Right now, even as a single girl, I am married. I love being single, and I'm truly content right now! I love the freedom that comes from being unmarried, the freedom to be able to focus undistractedly on my Lord. And I don't want to lose sight of that. As more and more of my friends began dating or courting or getting married, I don't want to fall away from my Maker and my Husband, and began dreaming of an earthly man.
Yes, I look forward to being married one day, and falling in love with a man. But until that day comes, I am satisfied. I am more than satisfied.
I wrote the song below so I could sing it and remind myself: "I am His bride!"
MY FIRST ROMANCE
Castles in the clouds, Starry-eyed dreams
Fluttering hearts, “Does he love me?”
Fragile hopes, Shattered dreams
Broken hearts - all this I see.
I have found love – vast and free
Love that spilled its blood for me.
How could I resist His tender call?
How could I resist Love giving all?
My heart has found its One true Love
Oh, this is my first Romance.
Hand in mine, walks by my side
He’ll never leave , I’m asking “why?”
Somehow, someway, He wanted me
Here’s my heart, here’s all of me
A bride right now, I wait for my Groom
Clothed in white, He promised it soon
Can’t wait for the day I see His face.
My Groom will come, and take me away.
I love my Lord, because He is my soul's husband.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
"When Christ, WHO IS OUR LIFE, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
Isn't that amazing to think about?? Christ is my life.
I often hear people say, "Basketball is my life" or "Music is my life." Basketball and music are both lovely things - I'm not saying in any way that we shouldn't participate in them. I've done both and love them! But what would it look like if every Christian could honestly say, "Christ is my life"? How would the world be changed if each of us was wholly consumed by one goal, one passion?
Our life is like a sentence.
If our lives could be portrayed by one sentence, what would your sentence be?
Read the following Christian “life sentences,” and see if you can assimilate a clear view of the person being described.
“I love God, my boyfriend is cute, and volleyball is my favorite!”
“Football is great, I want to be rich, and I go to church twice a week.”
Are you confused? Unsure? Misguided?
Now read the following example:
“I love the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here is power! Here is clarity! We have a crystal clear perception of this person’s life. There is no room for any extra goals. One theme comes clearly into focus.
Listen to Paul’s life sentence: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21) His life was Christ. Nothing more.
Let each believer realize that when we accept Christ, we die to our own life. Every previous goal, every former ambition, goes to the grave. A divided life is also an ineffective life that screams out opposite messages to its “readers.” Christ does not ask to be tacked on to the end of our life sentence. He asks to be our life sentence.
Romans 6:4 – “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Colossians 3:1-4 – “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…Set your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”
If a Christian finds that his life goals are divided – that more than one focus claims his heart – it is time for him to do some editing! He must write out his life sentence, and then study it to identify his purposes and goals. There will be activities that he will need to drop from his calendar, much like words that simply do not need to be written. He must remove the unneeded extras that would distract from the main focus of his life.
I love my Lord, because He is my life.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Imagine this. The Lamb of God -
Without blemish -
- In intimate fellowship with the Father.
God's standard is perfection, is it not? Only a sinless Being can know our Lord God intimately. Christ knew no sin. He was one with the Father.
I wonder if any of us will ever come close to understanding the enormous impact that lay before Christ when God's plan for salvation was revealed. For Christ, Who had known no sin, Who had always enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the Father, must not only live in a sinful world, and in a fleshly body, but He must become sin.
Christ - the spotless Lamb -
SIN for us.
He became sin, that we might become righteous. By His choice, He lay aside that sweet intimacy, and God turned His back on His Son. Why? Because He loved us so much, that He would rather break fellowship with His Father than to see His people lost and separated from God.
Oh to see the pain written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought, every evil deed
Crowing Your blood stained brow.
This the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath
WE STAND FORGIVEN AT THE CROSS.
~ "The Power of the Cross," Keith and Kristyn Getty
I am in awe. I love my Lord, because He became sin for me.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
This past summer held some of the best weeks of my life. Who would have ever guessed it?
I love going places.
I stayed home almost the whole time.
I love being being with people.
I interacted with very few others, besides my dear family.
I love accomplishing goals and getting things done.
Outside of the spiritual realm, I got almost nothing done.
So why was it such an amazing time for me? Simply put, my life was God this summer. My whole family took a month to do nothing but seek God. We aren't some super spiritual saints - we hardly even planned to do it, and certainly not for that long! God dropped the idea in our laps, and all of a sudden, we were in the middle of one of the most spiritually beautiful times of our lives.
During those weeks, I had glimpses of what it meant to abide in Christ. I had glimpses of what it meant to love the Lord with all my heart. I had glimpses of what it meant to actually hear the Lord's voice (not audibly, but in my spirit) and to know that He was speaking to me. And I had glimpses of what it meant to die.
"If any man will come after me, let him...
...pray for long hours?
...give a lot of money to charities?
...go every week to church?
...even become a missionary?
No! "...let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." And then His next words are:
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. " (Luke 9:23-24)
I lived 18 years of my life with a will that was strong and alive and well, and I regret that. Just a few months before I turned 19, God finally brought me to a point that I could choose to die. I died to my pride, my stubbornness, my selfishness; and also to my dreams, my desires, my goals.
And I found that dying is the only way to live.
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)
This summer, God brought me into a deeper understanding of what that looked like. He impressed on me a very simple fact:
"The only things that matter at all are the things that count for eternity."
In eternity, will it matter if people liked me? If I had friends out the wazoo, and impressed those in my life with my talents? When I stand before the judgement seat of Christ, will it matter if I could sing beautifully? If I was busy? If I had a successful career?
On the day that I step into eternity, the only thing that will matter is if I served the Lord with every atom inside me. Simply put, did I love the Lord with ALL of my heart?
And these are all very nice thoughts, right?
Until I have to put them into practice.
Because if I believed them, then they would shaped every activity I chose to participate in. In every choice I made, the deciding factor would be, "does it count for eternity?" And if not, then what in the world am I doing messing around with it??
That is dying. And that is hard.
But I understood that so clearly this summer. It was my heart. And there was joy in that.
Somewhere along the way, my focus shifted. I remember feeling vague uneasiness over it...realizing that I didn't have quite the same passion and single-hearted focus as before. But hey, life is busy right? And in the flurry of getting ready for a new semester, I forgot.
I forgot that greatness isn't about how many people serve us. It's about how many people we choose to serve. I forgot that success isn't busy-ness, and popularity, and favor with men. Success is favor with God.
I heard from the Lord today. And He told me, "you think life is all about you."
I was in awe. Of course it's true. I had planned my whole semester around the activities that I would enjoy, and would sound impressive to others. I stepped into the new semester for me. The painful, honest truth is that I resurrected my "will" and my "self" once again.
And once again, God asked me to die.
And once again, I died.
"I am crucified (dead) with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Galatians 2:20)
This whole dying business isn't too popular with Christians nowadays.
We want just enough of Jesus to make us happy, just enough to give us a peace, and just enough to make things go our way to fulfill our dreams and our agenda. Meanwhile, (Christ) wants to take us to the cross, where our own selfish dreams, egos, and plans for "great accomplishments" have to die. The cross brings you to a place of total and absolute surrender of all you have and all you are. You submit everything in obedience to (Christ).~ Chip Ingram, "Good to Great in God's Eyes
No we Christians don't understand the dying part of Christianity, nor do we care to. But the disciples did. What did they say?
"Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee (Jesus)..." (Matthew 19:27)
Imagine that. Everything. Thrown aside and forgotten. Why? In Paul's words,
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." (Philippians 3:8)
Is Christ enough for us? Do we crave Him so intensely that we would give Him every fiber of our lives, every vibrating pulse of our passions, every heart throb of our dreams?
This is what He asks for. I am convinced that this is what it takes to "win Christ." And He is enough.
I love Him, because He has asked me to die.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
How many times have we sung the beautiful song:
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me..."
And never even once thought about the words we were singing? I am so very thankful today that I serve a God of grace!
A few days ago, I heard a preacher speak on the book of 1 Corinthians. The first verse in this book says:
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother."
I had always skimmed right over those type of introductions. Not much there right? Let's get right to the good stuff! :) I wonder how much we miss of God's Word in the "not important extras" that we always skip over?...
We all know who Paul was. Formally named Saul, I know of few other men described in the Bible who were more passionate in their zeal AGAINST Christianity. Paul was responsible for the death of hundreds, maybe thousands of Godly, innocent Christian men and women. Can it get much worse than that?
Yes, we know about Paul. But who was Sosthenes?
This was a man who also passionately persecuted the Christian church. You see, Sosthenes was the ruler of the Jewish synagogue. He hated Christians and wanted them wiped out. One day, he took his case against the Roman courts, only to be thrown out because the Romans didn't want anything to do with religious cases. The angry mob that Sosthenes had stirred up against the Christians, now turned against him and beat him.
Somehow, through all of this chaos, God gripped his heart. Sosthenes became a vibrant, passionate Christian.
Two men...both dead set against the only One Who could save their souls. Two men...filled with hatred and anger. Two men...responsible for the deaths of innocent men and women.
And two men...transformed into two of God's most passionate, faithful servants.
We serve a God Who declares "There is no sin so great, that I cannot forgive. There is no past so dark that I cannot transform. There is no life so broken that I cannot repair. There is no man so sinful that I cannot use."
We serve a God of grace.
I love my Lord, because He is a God of grace.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Christ and Christ alone brings purpose and meaning to our lives. I am so thankful today to know that my life is full of rich, vibrant purpose because I have the Only Reason to live dwelling inside of me!!
For a long distance college communications course I am taking this semester, I had to write a 500 word essay on my life goals. I am so glad that I was forced to take the time to do this!! :)
Thank you Jesus for being a Goal worth living for, and a Goal worth dying for.
"My goal is to live a life that is vividly marked with a wholehearted love for my Savior and Lord. That I could say in complete honesty that I have no closer Friend than Jesus. That the best part of each day would be those precious hours in the morning spent in His presence. That I would involuntarily talk with Him all throughout each day. That my eyes would light up at the mention of His Name.
My goal is to live every day of my life in the light of eternity. That I would evaluate each activity in terms of how it will appear when I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. And thus, that I will reject any activity that would be meaningless at best or shameful at worst when my life has ended and I am called to give an account.
My goal is to live my life in such a way that I would be worthy of all 4 crowns that Christ has promised to reward His children with: the crown of life for those who persevere and remain faithful through trials and persecution; the crown of righteousness for those who love the Lord’s appearing; the crown of glory for those who are good shepherds of God’s people; and the crown of rejoicing for those who are soulwinners. That as the athlete devotes his life to competing in the Olympics and winning the gold medal, so I would devote every fiber of my life to win the rewards that my Father longs to give to His triumphant children one day.
My goal is to bring with me a vast group of precious souls to heaven, who came to know Christ and first heard of His gift of salvation because I took the initiative to share with them. To unashamedly and fearlessly proclaim the love of Christ not only in my actions, but also in my words. That when I see a new face, I would have only one question: “Do you know Jesus?” And that I would choose to ask that question in all boldness and love.
In short, my goal is stop short of nothing less than a radical life wholly devoted to my Lord…nothing held back. Does my goal seem radical? Does is seem unnecessary? Does it seem unattainable?
In the eyes of most, the answers to the above questions would be a resounding yes! And yet, I am reminded: “Some goals are so worthy that it is glorious even to fail.”
I have not even come close to reaching my goals. Sometimes, it seems that dozens of lifetimes could not give me enough time to accomplish all that I hope to accomplish in one lifetime! But I do not strive alone. With the Giver of all strength and power dwelling within me, nothing is impossible.
I have only one chance at this life. My goal is to make it count! "
I love my Lord, because He brings fullness of meaning to otherwise empty lives.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Several months ago, a dear friend of ours lost her unborn baby girl at 7 months pregnant. So many other hard things were going on in her life...and now this. There are times when God may seem so far away. A life falls to pieces, and we're tempted to wonder if God even cares.
At the time, as I thought about her situation, I was absolutely overwhelmed as I realized God's nearness in the midst of her pain. Life is hard. We have an enemy (Satan) here on earth who comes to steal, kill, and to destroy. But oh what a beautiful contrast - "Christ is come to give life, and to give it more abundantly!" And even in the midst of our pain, He has promised us that He will walk through it with us - right by our side. To be a very present help in times of trouble.
I wrote this poem at the time, and was in tears through most of it, as I marveled over God's nearness and care for His children...
A father and mother stand together
Grieving over their loss,
A child they have never known
Has left them at such a high cost.
Their hearts ache together
As they try to say goodbye
But how to find adequate words
When all they can do is cry?
But there is One Who hears pain unspoken
Who understands silent grief
Who knows the agony of each tear
And Who alone, can bring relief.
Their joy is His
Their care is His
Their love is His
More infinite, more deep, more abounding
Complete, never ending – perfect.
He Who holds galaxies in His hands…also holds each tear.
He carries in His arms the children He has LOVED:
The Good Shepherd – Who has laid down His life so the lambs may live.
And it is in these everlasting arms that He cradles their child,
Gently caressing, rocking her to sleep against His breast.
In a world where roses are few
Where thorns and briars abound,
Where clouds often cover the sun
And where pain sets in all around…
Surely our joy is not here!
Surely our hope elsewhere lies.
Surely she has found what we long for one day
The pure joy that no money buys!
What comfort is hers!
What peace –
And we rejoice with her.
Though our hearts here grieve
We offer our grief to our Lord
And commit her to the Savior’s care.
Knowing that a child who has grown up in the presence of Jesus is the happiest child that could ever be.”
What could be harder than losing a baby? And yet, this thought came to me...our Father, too, knows the pain of losing a loved One. He too understands the pain of losing His Child. There is no hurt too great to give to Him. There is no pain so piercing that He cannot soothe it. There is no burden so heavy that He cannot carry it for us.
What a God we serve!
Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
I love my Lord, because He my very present help in all my trouble.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
"How beautiful, the hands that served the wine and the bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful, the feet that walked the long dusty roads, and the hill to the cross"
This morning, during my praise and worship time, I listened to the song "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris, one of my all time favorite songs! As I let the meaning of the words sink into my heart, a certain phrase hit me and in a moment changed my perspective forever.
"How beautiful, the radiant bride, who waits for her Groom, with His light in her eyes"
It was as if, in that moment, Christ knelt down on one knee, held out His hand and whispered to me "Behold your Groom."
Instantly, I was reminded of the way that a bride eagerly waits for her groom, adoring him, cherishing in her heart every memory, every special moment. Her eyes light up every time she speaks of him. She spends much time fussing in front of the mirror before she sees him, and tries to the very best of her ability to please him - to be the woman of his dreams. Nothing could be more important to her - all her thoughts are consumed by this man.
What is her motivation?
She loves him.
And he loves her.
And with this reminder came a new realization - I am the bride of Christ! As a bride, do my eyes light up for my Savior, my Groom, my All in All? Is every fiber of my life focused on Him? Do I think of little else? Do my eyes shine when I think or talk about Him?
Do I absolutely adore Him?
Oh, more than anything else, I want to!! I want to be that radiant bride, adoring her Groom, absolutely swept off her feet, head over heels in love.
God reminded me of this beautiful verse:
"...as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." ~ Is 61:5
Ok, so I'll just admit it...I'm a girl. :) No beating around the bush...no denying it or making excuses. I love hearing fairytale love stories - I love dreamy, romantic pictures of couples walking side by side on the beach at sunset - I love going to weddings! And when I do attend a wedding, while everyone is craning their neck to watch the beaming bride walk slowly down the aisle, I love to watch the groom. That look of unspeakable delight - sheer, overpowering desire - and raw, emotional, unveiled love...there's something about that emotion that speaks to a woman's heart.
Do I dare to hope that Christ as my Groom delights in me the same way? And yet, this fact is so clearly stated in the verse above, and in many, many other passages all throughout the Bible.
2 Cor 11:2 - "For I am jealous over your with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
Ephesians 5:25-32 -"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present if to himself a glorious church, not having sport, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, without blemish....for no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord, the church...this is a great mystery (regarding the relationship of a man and woman) but I speak concerning Christ and the church."
What a beautiful reminder for us! I love my Lord, because He has chosen me as His bride.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I am thankful today to serve an awesome God! He is good!
Our family is all participating in a time of fasting together right now. (I know that Christ instructed us to fast in secret...but since this blog is pretty much "in secret" itself, I should be fine!! :) ) I believe that it is during these times that we realize the truth of this verse: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by ever word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." My daily prayer is that the Lord would make me hungry for Him...beyond hungry...starving! ravenous! as I wrote about in my last post. As I give up physical food for my body, I am seeing how precious His Word is to my soul.
It is amazing to me how ridiculously important physical food is to my physical body, and how much I miss food when I'm not eating...and yet how there have been so many times in the past when I could easily go without spiritual food for my spiritual body, and never even think to miss it. I think that most of us as Christians (myself included many times) feast ourselves daily on food and drink for our bodies, and breeze right over the absolute necessity of doing the same for our souls.
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." ~ 1 Pet 2:2
"...My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is" ~ Ps 63:1
"As the (deer) panteth for the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God..." ~ Ps 42:1-2
How did David get to the point that he longed with everything in him for the Living God? I don't know. I do know that for myself, the more I pursue God, the more I call upon Him to change my heart and my passions, the more time I spend with Him, the hungrier I get.
"Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Mat 5:6
"...open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." ~ Ps 81:10
I used to wonder why my times in the Word weren't fulfilling to me. Why I wasn't hearing anything through those times, or feeling satisfied afterward. Now I am realizing...for all those years, I just barely opened my mouth a crack!! 20 or 30 minutes of light Bible reading and half-hearted praying isn't going to cut it. That's like grabbing a cracker and a handful of raisins in the morning, and expecting that to last us through the whole day.
Open your mouth wide.
And then He will fill it.
How wide am I willing to open it? How much am I willing to pursue Him, to rest at His feet and listen for His voice? This is how much He will fill me.
I love my Lord because He never leaves a truly hungry soul empty. He feeds me.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
My reason #12 is in direct opposition - and yet perfect harmony - to all these I just mentioned!
Have we ever realized that not only does He feed us and satisfy us, but He also allows us to hunger? Does it seem like a paradox that the God Who fills us also would empty us? Listen to this story:
The Isralites are preparing to go into the Promised Land to possess it and claim it as their own. They have been in the land of Egypt, seen the mighty Hand of God work unexplainable miracles. They have experienced His power to save them from Pharaoh's oppressive tyranny and utterly humble his "unconquerable" army. They have wandered for 40 years in a barren wilderness, gone through pain, sickness, sorrow, want, darkness, and death. And they have come out victors.
But through their own strength? Through their own wisdom?
Moses pleads with the Isralites "Don't forget!! Don't forget what God has done for you. Don't forget your incredible heritage, and your incredible history. Don't forget God's awesome works and eternal mercy. Don't forget!!
And one of the things he asks them to remember is this: "And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger..." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
The answer is found later in the verse: (I'm skipping over some of the verse because that will be my next "reason"! :) )
"...that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."
And what a precious lesson this is to learn! What is life, if we are not being fed daily with the Word of God? Will we not spiritually die if we fail to nourish our souls on His Word?
He allows us to hunger.
I read about a pastor who knew of many Christian women who were married to non-Christian husbands. He decided to begin praying this verse over each of the men.
"Lord, make them hungry. Give them a ravenous hunger for You."
And every one of those men came to know the Lord as their Savior.
I am thankful for a God Who provides for the needs of His people. Whether it is to feed them...or to make them hungry.
I love my Lord, because He allows us to hunger.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Have you ever had anybody write a song especially for you?
I have written songs several songs in my life for special occasions for people that I love. Granted, they weren't necessarily the most wonderful songs in the world, (I have even been known to "rap" through certain parts in some of these songs :)) but they always expressed my heart towards that special someone. Every time that I have presented these songs, the person being honored was always touched. Not because of anything amazing that I had written (heaven knows that's not the case!!) but there's just something special about knowing that someone has taken the time to write a song especially for you.
I have never had someone here on earth sing a song just for me and just about me. But I was so encouraged the other day as I was thinking on this: my Lord sings over me! He sings songs specifically about me! And I wouldn't be surprised if the Inventor of music writes His own songs! :) What a beautiful thought!
Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."
I have been in a song writing mood for the past couple weeks, so I have written a new song, probably the most joyful one I've ever written! :) which I titled: "He Sings Over Me"
What kind of love is this I see?
What kind of love is here with me?
The God of all the universe
Holds out His hand to me.
What kind of peace now floods my soul?
What kind of peace has made me whole?
With mighty arms He rescues me
And by His blood I'm free.
Now joy and wonder fills my heart
I sing and praise and thank my God.
The Lord has come to be with me
He loves His child
He sings over me.
What kind of joy is now my song?
What kind of joy has made me strong?
Through sorrow, weakness, fear, and pain
I still sing through the rain.
What kind of grace forgives each sin?
When I am lost, finds me again?
The Lord sees every time I fall
And still, comes when I call.
He knows each star
And calls them by name,
Yet He cares for sparrows
Just the same!
Now joy and wonder fills my heart
I sing and praise and thank my God.
The Lord has come to be with me
He loves His child
He sings over me.
I love my Lord, because He sings over me!
Friday, June 3, 2011
I was feeling discouraged today, and frustrated. There are so many things in life to be grateful for, and yet what does my flesh always want to do? Focus on the negative. On the disappointments. On the frustrations. Ahhhhh - when will I ever learn!!!??
I sat down at the piano, not really for any special reason other than I haven't played in a while and I miss it. I played and sang through several songs, and then playing by ear, I started to sing...
"What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear..."
And as I continued on through the beautiful words, I felt my heart softened, and lifted up in worship of the incredible God Who calls us friends. Oh, what a gift we have been given! And how often do I take it for granted??
John 15:14 - 16
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you..."
I think of all the beautiful things that friends share in together...late night conversations, secret dreams, unforgettable memories, common interests, "inside jokes", and yes, maybe even most embarrassing moments :). And not only beautiful things...a good friend will be just as present for the hard times and trials in life as the good things.
As a Friend, I am beginning to realize that Jesus wants to share in exactly these same things with us. The fun times, the heart to heart talks, the beautiful memories, the secrets, and the laughs. And also the tears, the hurts, the broken dreams, and the pain.
Jesus Christ...the Friend Who never, NEVER fails us.
Need I even mention that from then on, my whole day brightened up?? :) Need I even mention that I felt a whole lot better after getting off that piano?? :)
I love Him, because He is my Friend - the best Friend I could ever ask for.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
No, I love having this blog because all throughout the days now, I am constantly on the lookout for new reasons why I love my Lord. It has changed my focus. And do you know what I'm finding? I'm finding that the more reasons I find to love Him, the more I do love Him.
This is a new experience for me. All my life, I've followed a religion. A list of rules...a checklist of things to do, and an even longer one of things not to do. I say this to my shame...I never loved God. And I knew it.
But now for the first time in my life, I am learning to love Him. I have so, so far to go! But it thrills me to see the baby steps of progress that Christ has enabled me to make so far.
But back to my reason #9. He is my own God.
"Then...God, even our own God, shall bless us." ~ Ps 67:6
He is the God of the universe. He is the God of all. But because He sees us each individually, and desires a special, personal relationship with each one of us as a unique individual, He is a personal God too!
Think about this for a minute. The Lord has made each of us so incredibly, distinctly, and beautifully different. He designed each of our unique characterisitics. And the personal Creator of each one of us is also the personal God of each of us!
And so because of this, He can meet each one of us right where we are. What a beautiful realization! What joy! I have always thought - "I have to whip myself into shape before I can approach God. I get my act together first, and then - and only then - do I meet with God." No, and a thousand times no!! Our personal God meets us right where are...as a broken-hearted mother, as a hurting child, as a confused teenager...yes, even as a fool, or a rebel, or an outcast.
He is my own God, Who knows each of my needs, each of my weaknesses, each of my downfalls, and each of my failures. And Who loves me anyway.
This is promising to be a long post, as I would like to close with a poem I wrote up recently that expounds on this thought. :)
The God of Me
A little child lifts her head
She reaches up with an outstretched arm.
A little smile breaks across her face
She trusts that she is safe from harm.
She has a question - she doesn't understand.
She can't give an answer, but she knows who can.
"Daddy, can I sit in your lap?
Can I hold your hand?
Will you tell me a story and sing to me?
Daddy, can I talk with you?
Pose a question to you?
Can you explain it all to me?
When the thunder rolls can you hold me close,
And rock me to sleep in your arms?"
My God is a God of the child
A God of the innocent
A God of the simple, trusting heart.
Because He's not a God for the grown-up
For the professional -
For the self-sufficient heart.
I hold out my hand to the greatest Friend of all.
As a child, I come.
He's the God of the child-
He's the God of me.
An angry boy runs to the door,
Lifting a tight clenched fist.
Without a word, he walks away -
Never dreaming how much he'll be missed.
The prodigal is happy at first, of course.
But soon he finds out the worst.
"Oh please, I need some help.
I've lost my way.
I need a guide to lead me back.
Oh please, can you take my hand?
Don't leave my side!
And bring me back to love?
When the thunder rolls can you shelter me,
And lead me to peace once more?"
My God is a God of the lost,
A God of the wanderer,
A God for the hardened, bitter heart.
Because He's not a God for the perfect -
For the prosperous -
For the self-sufficient heart.
I hold out my hand to the greatest Guide of all.
As the lost, I come.
He's the God of the lost -
He's the God of me.
A woman stands with her head in her hands,
With no one by her side.
Weeping silently, with no friend
To come to with arms open wide.
What is life if not shared with a friend?
It seems her pain has no end.
"Oh please, can I sit with you?
Can I talk with you?
Share my hurt, my fears, my dreams?
Can we laugh together?
Make plans together?
Can we walk down the road side by side?
And when the thunder rolls, can you hold me close,
And let me cry in your arms?"
My God is a God of the lonely,
A God of the friendless,
A God of the hurting, needy heart.
Because He's not a God for the happy -
For the busy -
For the self-sufficient heart.
I hold out my hand to the greatest Friend of all.
As the lonely, I come.
He's the God of the lonely-
He's the God of me.
He's the God of the sinner-
Of the broken-
Of the failure-
Of the lonely-
Of the lost-
Of the child-
He's the God of me.
I love my Lord because He is my own God.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
One of my favorite people in the Bible is someone that I really don't know much about. I believe this man is only mentioned 3 different times total in the Bible. (not including the references to his name in genealogies.) He is in the royal lineage of Jesus, and he was one of the two men in the Bible who never died. (the other being Elijah.)
This man's name is Enoch.
And why am I so fascinated with Enoch??
Genesis chapter 5 gives us a genealogy - a long list of men who lived for hundreds of years and "begat" many sons and daughters, and then they died. The average, normal life. Nothing really special to mention about them.
And then in the midst of this list comes Enoch (verse 22). The text doesn't tell us that Enoch lived for however many hundred years. He walked with God.
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah (his son) three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters... And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
In the midst of millions of individuals currently on this earth who are simply "living" - how many of us as Christ-followers are taking up the challenge to walk with God? I know that too often I'm not. But oh, this is the desire of my heart!! That when I die, people wouldn't simply say "she lived for ___ years." No, that they would say "here is a woman who walked with God all the days of her life."
In the famous "Hall of Faith" passage in Hebrews 11, we are told that Enoch had this testimony: that he pleased God. Here is a man that I want to be like! Oh Lord, strengthen me that my life would also be pleasing to you!
But here is the thing that amazes me the most. Yes, Enoch walked with God. But this also means that God walked with Enoch.
Do we realize what this looks like?? The God Who created the universe, Who holds all things together, Who knows all things and controls all things...GOD HIMSELF chose to walk day by day with a MAN.
I ask with the psalmist, David: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him??" (Ps 8:4)
And we know that He is no respecter of persons. If He did it with Enoch, He'll do it with me. The choice is very clearly not up to Him. It's up to me.
The God of the universe holds out His hand to each of us. He will walk with us, if we choose to walk with Him.
I love my Lord, because He walks with me.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A beautiful flower. A dear friend. A breathtaking sunset. The sound of children's giggles. All these things bring warmth to my heart, and I thank the Lord for the countless good things He constantly gives each of His children to brighten their day.
I heard a quote once that has stuck with me:
"Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on Jesus."
How true is that!!? I really do believe that most of us as Christians are stuck living in that first sentence. I know that I often am. If things go well, I'm in a good mood. Sure I'm happy.
But if someone irritates me - if I don't get my way - if I didn't get enough sleep - if a task takes twice as long as I expected it to...
I'm upset. Frustrated. Restless. Disappointed.
And notice that each of these things is the exact opposite of joy.
The common definition of joy is intense happiness. It's more than happiness. It flies far beyond happiness. It's like the never ending flow of water that comes from a mountain stream, always refreshing others, and never running dry.
And God wants to establish this fountain of joy in each of our hearts! I believe that every Christian is capable of not only have a constant joy in our hearts, but also bringing constant joy to everyone we meet.
But even more than that - God not only gives joy, but
He is our joy.
He is my joy.
Is that not incredible to think about?!
Psalm 43:4 "Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy..."
I think a more complete, in depth definition of joy would quite simply be this:
Anybody can be happy. Even broken - hearted mothers and rebellious teenagers and drunken, homeless men can be happy for short periods of time. But I believe that joy is reserved for those who have the Lord. Only God can give joy, because only God is joy.
I love my Lord because He is my joy.
Psalm 16:11 "In Thy presence is fullness of joy..."
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Websters dictionary defines it like this: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
Along with trust comes confidence. Certainty. Reliance.
And all fear flees.
Trust doesn't happen overnight. How many people do I know that can I say I really trust with all my heart? Enough to share anything with them...anything? And then to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this person's commitment to me will not change - that he won't judge me - and that he will understand, and love me every bit as much as he did before?
Trust must be earned. It must come from a long term relationship and experience with that individual.
I think that it is impossible to trust someone deeply without loving them deeply. The two go hand in hand.
So if I say that a person is trustworthy, I am saying that they have proved themselves to me. I can place full confidence and reliance on them, and know that they will not let me down. They are worthy of my trust.
What joy to say that though I only have a couple of people here on this earth that I trust in that way - I can trust my Lord! Deeply and completely. With absolutely anything. And with absolutely everything.
I think about the way that a baby trusts his parents - confidently holding their hand, and following them anywhere. This is the way that I can trust my Father in heaven.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I'm feeling discouraged.
It's easy to write these posts when it's been a good day. When I've been charming and lovely and said all the right things and never been selfish and always put the other person before myself. Granted, I don't have many of those days, but you get the idea. Some days are just better than others.
But how do I go about writing these posts when I've thrown all discretion and self-control to the winds, said all the things I didn't want to say, and didn't say any of the things I meant to say? How do I write a post about how much I love my Lord when it seems most of what I've done lately screams the opposite?
It's on these days that I am absolutely overwhelmed by this thought: "I know that He never gives up on me." I may leave my first Love, but He never leaves me. I may lose interest in the road of holiness before my God, but He never loses interest in His daughter.
I may even give up on myself - but He never gives up on me!
Hebrews 13:5 - "I will never leave you or forsake you."
1 Samuel 12:22 - "For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people." (are we not His people as Christians?!)
John 6:37 - "...and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Malachi 3:6 - "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
Jeremiah 31:3 - “The Lord hath appeared unto me of old saying, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”
I think about the story of the prodigal son. Discontented and restless, he told his father - "I'm out of here!" Taking his inheritance with him, (read: "I wish my dad was already dead") he walked out on the happy home life he had been living and away from the father who loved him.
How many dads could have endured that kind of slap in the face? How many dads could still have loved a son who wanted nothing to do with them? And not only loved him, but waited and watched for his return every day, and then -
Ran to him in ecstasy to welcome him when he came back?
This is the kind of God we serve. A Father Who never ceases to run to His wayward children when they return once again from their lustful wanderings. A God Who runs to me, when I return.
I love my Lord because He never gives up on Me.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
How many times in my life have I sat down to have a quiet time with the Lord, and I almost couldn't even bring myself to pray because I felt guilty and condemned?
Guilty because of something I had done wrong, or messed up - no matter how big or little. And condemned because I know that God is perfect and sinless, and how could He understand my constant and never ending faults??
How many times have I heard a small voice whisper in my head: "Don't even bother talking to God this time. You've messed up one too many times. You've committed that sin one too many times. How can you even call yourself a Christian?"
Is that God? Are these thoughts - these feelings - from Him?
Romans chapter 8 vs 33-34 asks this same question: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" In other words - "who is going to accuse the children of God?" And you know what is interesting? - the author of Romans (Paul) never gives us the answer to that question. But one thing he does make sure to give us - and that is Who does not accuse us.
"It is God that justifieth"
Not condemns. Not accuses. Not points the finger. But He justifies.
The passage continues:
"Who is he that condemneth?" Again, Paul answers this question by telling us who does NOT condemn. "It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who...also maketh intercession for us."
Christ, Who has shed His blood for no reason other than perfect love for His wayward children, is risen from the dead - not to condemn those He has died for, but to make intercession for them. He is fighting against the accusations that are hurled at us!
Of course, I know in my head that Satan is "the accuser of the brethren." I know that Christ makes intercession for us. I know He loves us. But do I really know it and believe it with all my heart? And then let that realization affect my attitude and my approach toward my Father?
It is never God that stands between me and a close, intimate relationship with Him.I will close with a paraphrase of one of my favorite stories in the Gospels...
A woman is brought to Jesus by a group of big shot, swaggering, hypocrite Pharisees. "Master," they begin, (though it's interesting to note how very much Christ was NOT their master) "Master, here is a woman we have caught in the very act of adultery."
"Moses told us that a woman like this is to be stoned. But what do you have to say about it?"
Then they sat back and waited. Doubtless, they assumed they had really caught Jesus this time. Doubtless, they were impressed with their clever thinking. How was the "Master" going to wriggle out of this one?
But to their surprise, He didn't say anything at all. Instead, He stooped down and wrote in the dust.
"Master," they pressed, "what do you think?! Should she be stoned as the law commands?"
Then standing up straight, He looked each one in the eye and said "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone."
And He stooped again, and wrote once more in the dust. Oh, what I would give to know what He wrote!!
And one by one, each Pharisee, so righteous on the outside, and so sinful within, slipped away in shame.
Jesus straightened, and looked at the woman. "Where are your accusers?" He asked. "Does no one condemn you?"
"No, Lord," she replied.
Then the words of the Master rang out as a trumpet call upon her ears:
"And neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
I love my Lord because He does not condemn me.