Sunday, February 27, 2011

Waiting for that perfect time

I confess: I hate waiting.

When I was younger, and, honestly, even now, when I'm waiting for someone to arrive or to come pick me up, I go crazy if they aren't on time. When I still lived "at home" with my parents, I would usually play piano while waiting. This was not just to pass the time - it was because the piano was in the living room, and I could watch outside for whomever it was I was expecting.

I am in a serious period of waiting, friends. Except this time, it's not just for a ride or for a friend to show up. It's for my wedding. In 3.5 months, I'm marrying the love of my life.

I get so antsy about it! I tell my fiancee all the time: I wish I could just quit my job, we could elope, and start our life together. But, alas, that can't happen. And so I am waiting.

This brings me to two thoughts:
1) God must have something to teach me in the waiting.
2) Why don't I expect Christ's return for His bride with as much excitement as I do my fiancee's "return" for me?

The first idea is partly a way to keep my focus in these last three and a half months. I decided in January that I needed to really let God shape me into the wife He wants me to be. If I am not reshaped by God, I will be one pitiful, selfish, unloving wife! Why would a bride spend great effort in reshaping her body for her groom-to-be and not ask God to reshape her heart?

So I have been praying for the last two months that God would do a mighty work in me, that He would show me areas that I need to let Him prune before they become dangers to our marriage.

The funny thing about asking God to help you find areas that you need His help on is that He will immediately start showing them to you! And so He is.

The second idea comes in large part from Matthew 25:

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
'No,' they replied, 'there might not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
Late the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." ~Matthew 25: 1-13

Scripture says that we, the Church, are the bride of Christ. He is coming back for us one day - though He has been "a long time in coming" (for us, at least).

Imagine that. Christ is coming back! And part of His plan is to collect His bride that they might be together forever. I know how much I long to be with my earthly beloved - I tell him every time we talk! I long for it with my whole being. I sometimes even cry when we are apart.

I wonder what it would be like if all of God's children waited with the kind of expectation and anxiety and sheer joy that brides do for their wedding day? I wonder how different we would appear to the rest of the world if we were truly expecting Him, waiting for Him, jumping in place in total excitement and pleasure knowing that He's on His way?

Are you expecting your bridegroom?

Friday, February 25, 2011


I must confess, I have struggled for years with understanding the concept of holiness. Be holy. Show holiness. You are holy. The Lord is holy. These phrases all sound powerful and wonderful, but I honestly didn't understand what it meant to be holy. Last year, I read the entire Bible, and noticed how often God proclaimed His holiness and demanded holiness from us. Yet it still didn't click. But today, I think something is finally making sense.

I'm currently studying the book of Daniel (using Beth Moore's study as a guide), and today the discussion was all about holiness. It's not just Daniel, though. In my NIV bible, according to the concordance, there are no less than 150 separate occurrences of the word "holy" or "holiness." Obviously, God want us to get the idea of holiness.

The first instance of the idea of holiness comes in Genesis 2, verse 3. The principle of first instance states that the first time something occurs in scripture, there is something important to gleam from it. This verse is:

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

The Hebrew word is is "qadash," meaning "to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate" (according to the KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.

In this instance, the idea of holiness, applied to the seventh day, implied a separation apart from the other 6 days. It was to be a day of rest from work, and (later in the OT) a day dedicated to the worship of God Almighty. After this first mention, over 150 times, God proclaims His holiness, demands that we be holy, or consecrates things, days, or feasts as holy to Him. They belong to Him. They are for Him alone.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that,
"In primitive Semitic usage "holiness" seems to have expressed nothing more than that ceremonial separation of an object from common use which the modern study of savage religions has rendered familiar under the name of taboo (W.R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, Lect iv). But within the Biblical sphere, with which alone we are immediately concerned, holiness attaches itself first of all, not to visible objects, but to the invisible Yahweh, and to places, seasons, things and human beings only in so far as they are associated with Him. And while the idea of ceremonial holiness runs through the Old Testament, the ethical significance which Christianity attributes to the term is never wholly absent, and gradually rises in the course of the revelation into more emphatic prominence."

In Daniel 5, Belshazzar desecrated the holy items taken from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and used them as part of a drunken orgy, toasting his false gods with them. That very night, God broke the great Babylonian Empire. Beth talked about the idea that the enemy wants nothing less than to make holy things unholy.

Followers of Christ are made holy through Christ. God says over and over again that we have been set apart from this world - "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds" (Romans 12:2). We are the vessels that He inhabits on this earth - no longer the temple or the ark, but in us, His children. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.")

We are to act in ways that honor Him. We should never be used to honor anything other than God. Selfishness - honoring ourselves - is wrong. Sexual Immorality - honoring pleasure and immediacy - is wrong. Pride - honoring ourselves above all - is wrong. Any time that we act in a way that honors any one or thing other than God, we are acting unholy. We are not acting like those picked up and stamped by the Living God.

Holiness turns out to be in some ways a fairly simple concept. Act, think, speak in such a way that God is honored, and no other. In this, you show yourself to be His, not part of this society or this world, but a citizen of His realm. You are anointed as His when the Spirit lives within you and fills you up with Himself. You are reserved for Him for eternity.

Be holy. Stop acting like a fool of this world. Stop honoring yourself and your desires. Start bowing before your LORD, the God Almighty who never lies, never changes, and demands total righteousness. Start honoring Him with your choices - what you watch, what you read, what you say, where you go.

It's an easy concept, but so hard to do. Lord, help your children to learn how to be holy. Let us honor you in ALL things!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unfailing love

Never failing, never ending
Unmovable, unshakeable
This is the Father’s love for us

He who made the stars in heaven,
Who shaped each flower, gave it scent
Who sets up kings and removes them

The LORD Almighty is His name
His love, an everlasting love
It changes not, no matter what

Never failing, never ending
Unmovable, unshakeable
This is the Father’s love for us

He’s not a man, that He should lie
Nor son of man, changing His mind
He is the Everlasting God!

He holds us in His mighty hands
His grip secure, never lets go
We cannot be removed from them

Never failing, never ending
Unmovable, unshakeable
This is the Father’s love for us

We may not feel His hands on us
We may not hear Him whispering
Yet we know: He never leaves us

Neither life nor death can change it
Nothing on earth or in heaven
Can separate us from His love

Never failing, never ending
Unmovable, unshakeable
This is the Father’s love for us!

{Please do not copy or repost without my permission.}

I wrote this tonight while meditating on God's great love. My bible study tonight ended with Romans 8:38-39: "For I am convinced that neither life nor death, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I have always loved these two verses because if there is one thing I long for, it is security. Human security fails - relationships end, loved ones die, people move on - but God's love is completely, totally unfailing.

The other verses that came to mind while writing this were:

Hebrews 3:18 - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Psalm 36:7 - "How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings."

All of Job 38 (God speaks of His creative acts.)

Daniel 2:20-21 - "Praise be to the name of God forever and ever: wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."

Numbers 23:19 - "God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?"

Isaiah 40:28 - "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."

John 10:27-29 - "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand."

Deuteronomy 31:6-8 - "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."

Dear friends, remember that God's love is not human love. It is not petty. It is not conditional. It does not depend on you "deserving" it. He does not revoke it when you screw up. His love for you endures through the world's messes, your worst moments, and even utter rejection. Scripture says that God does not want any to perish, but for all to come to salvation. Even if you reject Him, He still loves you. And when life is hard, or even downright unbearable, know that His love can never be taken from you. Nothing in all creation can separate you from His love. All you have to do is receive it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It's the 15th of the month, which means it's the Living Proof Siesta Scripture Memory Team time!

I must confess, I struggled all day with wondering what God would have me commit to memory. This is partly due to the fact that - again, I must confess and repent for - I had not been in scripture much the last few days. I can blame it on feeling poorly or spending time with my fiancee, but the truth is that I was being selfish and was rebelling against God. At least this time I recognized it within 4 days, and not four months!

Anyway, I was really struggling and didn't want to "just pick a verse" to study. I want the 24 verses I commit to memory to have special meaning for me. Numbers 23:19 was a reminder that God can be trusted, absolutely and completely, so everything else I memorize is trustworthy and true. Daniel 3:17-18 was a reminder that I must choose to serve and trust God even if my circumstances change, even if He does not choose to save me from a situation. Isaiah 43:19 was an expression of what God is doing with me this last year and a half - a new thing. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ if we are growing spiritually. I need to be new! And God is taking me down new paths relationally, professionally, and emotionally.

So I wanted this fourth verse to be meaningful. Then, right around 9 o'clock, as usual, my upstairs neighbors began their nightly routine of pounding, banging, screaming, running, and otherwise shredding my nerves. As I fought the urge (and, at times, lost) to yell at the ceiling in protest, I came across Psalm 4:4.

"In your anger do not sin: when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." ~Psalm 4:4

There you have it. Like a little megaphone in my ear: "Listen up, stupid; the best thing you can do is search your own heart and be silent. Trust me, kiddo, you have plenty to repent of in your own heart and plenty to work on. In your anger and frustration, do not sin."

It's not that feeling frustration or anger is, in itself, a sin. We could have lots of debates about whether God thinks it's right to be upset about things, but I think we'd be going in circles most of the time. The point is, God recognizes that we might get angry. We might get frustrated. After all, he created us with complex emotional responses. He's not shocked that we get upset. But feeling emotion and acting on it are two very different things.

In fact, God has a lot to say about how we should act when we are feeling less than pleased:

Numbers 14:18 - "The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion." - God is slow to anger. Believe me, if He were quick, the world would probably not be here!

Psalm 37:8 - "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil." - This is in the context of fretting over evildoers. You should not worry or get angry when you see the unrighteous prospering. God promises to deal with them. You should not give in to anger, for that leads only to evil.

Proverbs 15:1 - "A gentle anger turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Kinda speaks for itself, no?

Proverbs 29:11 - "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." - Again, I don't think this means that you will never "feel" angry or upset, but that you should exert self-control in light of those feelings. You can choose not to act on those feelings.

Provers 29:22 - "An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered man commits many sins."

Ephesians 4:26 - "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." - Holding on to anger - even anger that is directed toward legitimate injustices - can give way to bitterness. To self-pity. To arrogance. To the shifting of your focus from feeling anger to acting on bitterness and wrath. Therefore, we should not hold on to that anger and give the devil a way into our heart. We need to let it go and to forgive.

James 1:19-20 - "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

We all need to be slow to anger, as God is slow to anger. I know that I get frustrated easily, and I struggle in this area. I think, though, that as we continue to practice self-control, forgiveness, and being slow to anger, Christ will transform us. As He transforms us into His likeness, I have the feeling that anger, especially over little things, will be a more rare thing in our lives.

Jesus, help me to be slow to anger like you are. Help me to focus on the areas where I need to repent rather than focus on other people's areas. Help me to exert self-control. And ultimately, help me to remember that you are ultimately in control. You alone will pass judgment, and you alone will punish those who do evil in this world. Transform my mind and my heart. You say that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Overflow my heart with your love, my God, that I might speak love and grace to those around me. Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave HE ROSE AGAIN!
And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me!
For I am HIS and HE is mine; bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no schemes of man can ever pluck me from HIS hand.
Til HE returns or calls me home, hear in the power of Christ I stand.

(by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty)

I've been thinking a lot tonight. That's not always a good thing. But tonight it's been about Christ. I was reminded of God's command to boast only of Him while reading, of all things, Daniel 2.

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream and commanded the wise men of Babylon to both tell him what was in the dream & interpret it... or be executed. So Daniel and his friends pray all night for revelation from God. When HE gives it, they break out in praise to Him as the revealer of mysteries. Daniel goes to the king, tells him the dream and interprets it. Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar also praises God as the God of gods, Lord of kings.

As I was meditating on the praise of Daniel and ole' Nebu, I remembered two commands about boasting:

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. ~Jeremiah 9:23-24

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." ~1 Corinthians 1:27-31

For a long time, I didn't really understand it. I certainly get the implication that I'm foolish. That, I heartily agree with! But what does it mean to boast of Christ? Why would I do that?

I think I'm beginning to understand. The more I learn about God, about who He is, the more I realize how hopeless I am without Him. Just a few words to describe the God of Heaven:

And what am I? Unholy. Completely weak. Not in any way righteous - even when I do righteous acts, are my motivations righteous? Not on my own. Unjust. Unmerciful. Unkind. Unloving. Judgmental (unfairly so). Confused. Dead. Knowing nothing.

And yet, look at what God has done - for me, of all people:

1. He, who created the entire universe with just the power of HIS word (Genesis 1:1-31, John 1:1-14), gave up the rights of being God and confined himself to the body of a tiny baby growing in a woman's womb (Philippians 2:5-8, Luke 2).

2. He spent thirty-odd years on this earth enduring everything we do (Hebrews 4:15, Matthew 4:1-11), only to be unjustly executed. In that death on that Roman torture device, He had laid on Him every sin of every person who ever will have walked the face of this earth (Romans 5:6-8, John 3:16, Philippians 2). He was cut off from the Father, condemned, abandoned, rejected (Matthew 27:46, 69-75).

3. And then - oh the glory of it! - He conquered death. HE LIVES!! (Isaiah 25:8, 1 Corinthians 15:26, 55; Revelation 1:18, Revelation 21:4, John 11:25, Acts 4:33, Romans 1:4, Job 19:25, Luke 24, Matthew 28, etc.)

4. Romans says that through Adam, sin came to all men, but through Christ, life comes to all who receive Him! (Romans 5:12-21) He serves as our intermediary, granting us access to Himself, to the Creator God (Hebrews 7:11-28, Ephesians 3:12).

5. He gives to us (Matthew 7:-12. He answers our prayers (Psalm 102:19-20). He listens. He cries with us.

6. He loves us (John 3:16, and the rest of the Bible!).

7. He saves us (Psalm 18:27, Psalm 91:3, Isaiah 38:20, Ezekiel 34:22, Daniel 3:17, Zephaniah 3:17, Zechariah 8:7, Matthew 1:21, Luke 19:10, John 3:17, 1 Timothy 1:1, John 10:9, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13, 1 Corinthians 15:2, Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5, 2 Peter 3:9).

8. He gives us abundant life (John 10:10).

9. He prepares a home for us. He prepares His kindgom that will never be destroyed. (John 14:1-7, Revelation 21)

10. He has plans for us - plans to prosper and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11).

11. He will NEVER let go of those who are His (Romans 8:28-38, John 10:28)

Glorious, wonderful, awesome God!

How can we not but boast of Christ? How can we not be awed by this?

Oh, Lord, help me to never boast save in you. You are the one who gives life. You are the one who gives peace. You are the one who gave me the energy to teach today when my body had none. You alone got me through this day. Let me boast only in you and the salvation of Christ.

For it is truly in CHRIST ALONE that we have hope and are saved. Glory be!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I thought I'd share my third verse to memorize this year on the Living Proof Ministries Blog. My first two were these.

God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? ~Numbers 23:19

Even if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us and will deliver us from your hand, o king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, o king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ~Daniel 3:17-18

The first was a reminder to me that God is not a man. He won't deceive me, let me down, lie to me, or do any other despicable human trait. He is faithful, so His word is, too. The second was a reminder that God is able to save us from trouble, but I need to be willing to serve Him alone even if He does not save me. Many put it this way: sometimes God walks you through the fire rather than pull you out of it altogether.

This next verse also is special to me, because I think it sums up my entire life the last few years, and what's to come.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19

So many new things God has been doing in my life and my heart:
1. Showed me so much about Himself through my read through the entire Bible.
2. Has sparked a real hunger for Him that I've never known before
3. Brought me to Scott and is preparing me to be the wife that He desires me to be
4. Leading me to new career paths (though some are, as of yet, still unknown)

I am somewhat awed by the fact that Elohim, the Creator God, who never changes, still does new things. New things in us. New things for us. New things with us. Scripture also says that His mercies are new every morning.

Lord, let me never forget to look for the new thing you are doing in me!