Tuesday, July 26, 2011

God's Love

Recently I've been thinking about how awesome it is that God loves us enough to allow pain and hard times in our life: He knows that sometime hard times are the only thing that will draw us closer to Him. Sometimes we won't listen to His gentle whisperings--so, out of love, He must yell. He also knows that if sin did not have consequences, we would slide deeper and deeper into its jaws--and farther and farther from Him.
4"Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.

5I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.

6According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.

7Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

8I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

9O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

10I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?" Hosea 13:4-10
This punishing of sin is a good thing. It is loving.

Would it be loving to allow us to continue recklessly selling what is most worthwhile and wonderful--knowing God--at the price of ruining ourselves and everyone around us??


Sin is EVIL. Sin is horrid. Sin is killing us. Sin keeps us from God.
21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. Romans 6:21

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14
God is Holy. In fact, He is holy, holy, holy. Completely, utterly, unfathomably other. Totally, fully, incomprehensibly pure.
2There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2
And He cannot abide with sin. It's impossible. It cannot happen.
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. Psalm 5:4

5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. John 21:5

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
(If we, as Christian humans, are not to be yoked together with "darkness"... how much more would that apply to God, who has no darkness in Him at all??)

Out of His holiness and justice, He must punish sin. And since He is an eternal God, our sin against Him is eternal. And we deserved an eternal punishment: total, hopeless, utter separation from God. Imagine that. Completely separated from your Creator for all eternity.


23For the wages of sin is death;...

But. [Such a glorious little word, isn't it??]

...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8But [There it is again!] God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:7-9
But-- He loves us! Why?!? I have no idea, humanly speaking. I certainly wouldn't love us like He does were I Him.
8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:8
And therein lies the whole beauty and extravagance of God... He is love. Therefore, He loves.
9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
And in His love for us, He made a way. He made the impossible possible. He paid for our sins for all eternity: and all He asks is that we accept that gift by faith and then walk out that faith.

This is our God. This is love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Learning from Hwin

On occasion, a particular sentence will stand out to me for one reason or another (I rarely chose it consciously) and keep repeating over and over in my mind. My brain will store it in the “we’re-still-working-on-figuring-out-the-full-implications-of-that-idea” folder, where it will--almost without my notice--develop into a full thought: which often ends up becoming a blog post. ;) This time, the sentence was an unusually strange one. It's from “The Horse and His Boy”.

I’ll quote a fair bit here, so you can understand the setting more fully:

“No doubt,” continued Bree, “When they speak of him as a Lion, they only mean he’s as strong as a lion or (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he is a real Lion. Indeed it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he’d have to be a beast just like the rest of us. Why!” (and here Bree began to laugh) “If he was a lion he’d have four paws, and a tail and Whiskers!… Aie, ooh, hoo-hoo! Help!” For, just as he said the word Whiskers, one of Aslan’s had actually tickled his ear. Bree shot away like an arrow to the other side of the enclosure and there turned; the wall was too high for him to jump and he could fly no further. Aravis and Hwin both started back. There was about a second of intense silence.
Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.

“Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”

“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.”

Of course there is a great deal more following that bit, and a great deal proceeding it, and I’d like to expound on all that too…but I’ll just stick with this at present. ;) (You can go read the other parts, though, if you’d like. Because you have the books. Right??)

“I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”

What an odd statement, isn’t it??

Of course, we know Aslan is a representative [of sorts] of Christ, and that there are truths about the Christian life contained in the story of Narnia… so, suspecting that there was something real behind this queer utterance from a talking horse in a made-up land, I kept pondering it and filtering other things through it–-attempting to uncover the implications behind that sentence.

As I read “Crazy Love”, and as God began to show me more of Himself, I realized something that Hwin knew: God is so beautiful, so holy, so good, so awesome– that when we see Him; when we know Him: we would rather be hurt– or even killed– by Him than loved by anyone else.

He is THAT awesome.

I can’t even… begin to truly fathom Him, nor the full implications of this.

There is something about this thought that can’t really be captured by mere typed words: it must be felt. All I can really hope to do is to get you started pondering it: and to realize it more fully myself.

Better to be wounded by Him than caressed by anyone else.

Better to give up everything–my very life– that I may know Him.

Today I read an article about Sacrifice. (It’s very good; you ought to read it. Actually... Go read it. Now. Please? ;))

As I was thinking about that article--with this thought still hanging about in my mind-- (My thoughts often mesh and criss-cross and combine…) I realized something.

We must see Christ as totally worth giving up our lives--our "selves"-- for.

We must realize His infinite worth and our infinite worthlessness–and then we will be able to make the sacrifice: To give up our self for Him.What a trade off!!

In order to attain something you believe is of greater value, you must give up something you believe is of lesser value. –Brett & Kate McKay

It all seems incredibly obvious, doesn’t it?

Of course He is of greater value than I!!!

Of course He is infinitely more holy than I!

Of course He is worthy of my life!!


Let’s see it.

If you’ve ever wondered why you lack the discipline to attain a certain goal, it is likely because in your heart of hearts, you don’t really value that goal as much as you think you do. –Brett & Kate McKay

Yikes… I think this is something we really must think and act on, don't you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's the Point??

Have you ever asked that question? I sure have...

What is this all about? Why are we here? Why are we supposed to do this? Or that?

Why pray? Why read your Bible?

Somehow, we've become terribly confused. (Or at least I know I get confused about this all too often... ) We tend to think that the reason we pray is so that we can check off that particular box on our check list. Or, maybe, we think about it a little more-- and we pray so that this or that will happen or not happen. (We hope.)

We read our Bibles because someone told us that is how to "grow". (What does "grow" mean, anyways??) Or, perhaps, because we want to learn some kind of principles for how to live our lives.

Basically, if we even do them regularly at all, they are focused on US. What we will get. Maybe joy, or peace, or comfort, or encouragement, or maybe a husband, or a nice house, or... you name it.

Is that the point?

If that was the complete and total point--to be benefited personally from those two activities-- then... wouldn't that mean humans are The Point?

I don't know about you, but if I am the point of all this... that is one pretty pathetic point.

No... thankfully, we are not the point. We are not the reason we pray or study our Bibles or do any of the millions of things we do.

The Point, of course, is....


We pray so we can better know Him: how He works; His will; His character; His heart.

We read the Scriptures because in them we can learn what God says; Who He is; what He has done; what He promises; and much more.

That changes things, doesn't it?

If we are praying for the purpose of knowing God more... if we are spending time worshiping Him and thinking about Who He is (at least, the small bit of "Who He is" that we know so far)... suddenly, prayer is exciting. It is a treasure hunt. It is an exploration of Someone we can never come to the end of. We begin lose sight of our puny little selves (what a relief!) and become lost in the wonder of Who God is...

And the more we know God, the better we will be able to pray: we will learn to pray things that are on His heart--things He longs to answer.  We will come to better understand His answers to our prayers.

If we are reading the Bible with the goal of finding out something about God... what an exciting adventure it becomes!

Imagine if all of us earnestly, constantly sought after God... what a difference there would be in our lives and in our conversations!!

"God is awesome" chats/talks wouldn't be a rare occurrence--they would be an integral part of everyday life! Instead of talking to people in church about how good the food was or wasn't the music a little slow today or hey are you coming to soccer or ooh, cute shirt or any number of other all too common, pathetically shallow conversations...

It would be, "HEY!!! Guess what I learned about God this week!!!!" or "Look at these verses I found!! Did you ever think about how amazing it is that God just spoke and all of this came into existence?!?" or "This week, when I was praying, God taught me..." or "isn't God AWESOME?!"

Imagine if you were able to ask your friends what God was teaching them that week or what they were excited about in the Bible or what characteristic of God they were most thankful for or any other questions of that nature... and they actually had an enthusiastic response?

Imagine if YOU had an excited response when someone asked you one of those questions!!

Okay, enough imagining: we all know that would be amazing. Anyone who has ever had a "God is awesome" talk knows that those-- to a Christian-- are the most thrilling, soul-satisfying, incredible, awe-inspiring, wonderful, etc, etc, conversations you can possibly have. 

So let's do it! Enough talking, philosophizing, reading, fake prayers... Let's go after God. Let's seek His face.

Let's make it our primary goal in life--no matter what area or activity, whether it be washing dishes or playing soccer or writing or praying or anything else you happen to do-- to know God more.

This is why we exist: to know God, to enjoy Him, to love Him, to glorify Him. 

It's all about Him. Not us.


[And once you're ready for a God is awesome chat/talk, let me know. I'd love to have more of them. :)]

Friday, July 1, 2011

What Are You Hiding??

A few weeks ago, I caught my little brother looking at pornography.

Okay, so it was actually an advertisement for some kind of exercise machine... But still. And he's only six years old!!! And already, in spite of our efforts at protecting his eyes... pictures that come in the mail of random ladies are stealing from him. From his future wife. Beginning to defile his mind. Awakening and feeding an appetite that cannot be fulfilled purely for a long, long time. How can I explain to him that he is not to look at pictures like that, while at the same time helping him to see that it is not a bad desire, just an untimely one-- and that female beauty is not a bad thing??

It makes me angry.

It's not just those exercise ladies, either. It is people in the grocery store. It is sisters in Christ.

Causing my little brothers to stumble, to struggle with lust. Taking away the sacredness and specialness of immodesty, and turning it into something to be avoided and shunned.

Yes, you heard me right. Immodesty is special and sacred. [Or at least it's supposed to be. Not that you would be able to figure that out by looking around...] So much so, that it is only meant for ONE relationship: marriage.

A long time ago, we were at a friend's house, and we were cutting out fabric for skirts... of course we wanted them long (as in, nearly to the ankle), and she was kind of... almost exasperated with that, asking what we were hiding-- as if we had some kind of deformity to hide or as if we were embarrassed about our bodies and wished to cover them up.

I mulled over that for a long time: I couldn't exactly explain it to her then (mostly because I couldn't quite explain it to myself), but I knew there was something wrong with the way she worded that.  

Am I "hiding" something? I don't think so. I'm healthy. If I wanted to flaunt, I could.

No... not hiding. Saving, guarding, setting apart. It's actually quite romantic, if you think about it--to save yourself completely for one special and holy relationship.

How can something be special if everyone else in the world has seen it? Where is the mystery, the feminine mystique in that?

God made females beautiful. God made males to be attracted (an understatement, methinks) to that beauty. This is good.

What is not good is when that beauty is used in the wrong way: to fulfill lust. Don't go pointing fingers at the guys. Yes, that is a huge problem. But I mean the lust of us girls. The lust to be... well, lusted after, though we wouldn't normally think of it that way. The lust to be noticed, by guys and girls. The lust of power--the female body has quite a lot of power over males. The lust of wanting to be like/in the world.

But we have a choice. We do not have to give into the culture, to our flesh. By the grace of God, we can fight back, with our clothes and our actions and our attitudes. 

Modesty is a battle: it is a fight against our sinful nature and against the culture of this world.

Modesty is a joy: it is exciting to be representing Christ well in your dress. It is exciting to know that your brothers around you are blessed by how you dress and act. It is exciting to think about the blessing it will be in marriage.

Modesty is a blessing: a way of helping our brothers in Christ in their battles, and a way of showing the world that we are set apart.

Modesty is a challenge: it says we must be won. We cannot be had cheaply.

Modesty is a gift: a way of showing our future husbands that we are waiting for them and saving ourselves for them. Just think of how special it would be if you were able to say that he was the first to have ever enjoyed the secrets of your beauty.

Please, please think about what you wear. Remember my little brother.

I don't know about you, but I want to be won, not "had" by every guy who happens to see me. I don't want to steal from anyone else's wife. I want to bless-- not hinder-- the guys around me. I want to protect and save the sacredness of my beauty for one man.