Thanksgiving 6: God Meets all our Greatest Needs

You are the hope in our despair,
The light in our shadowland,
The justice in our law-breaking,
The mercy in our damnation,
The innocence in our guilt,
The covering in our nakedness,
The truth in our lies,
The love in our hate,
The impassible in our passibility,
You are all that we cannot be,
You are all we need.
Praise and Blessing to God, three in one, forever and ever. Amen.
– Abby Jones

I am thankful God richly supplies all our needs!

The Perfect Day

Can you look back on your life and think of a perfect day? Many girls answer with their wedding day. I can’t. I still get stressed out about my wedding and it was almost 13 years ago. I could say any of the days on which one of my nieces or nephews entered the world. I could say any of the seven days of our cruise. I could say any of the four years I lived on a dirt road out in the country and spent the days biking, hiking, and generally having old-fashioned fun with my friends. I could say time spent with cousins. I could say the days I finished one of my novels. I could say any number of Christmases or snowy days. But most of these are happy moments, not perfect days.

There is one day in my life that I think of as perfect or blessed. It may seem strange, but it is the day I watched a saint go be with the Lord. I was there at the moment of my friend’s passing. I was there, surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters, when he went to meet Christ face to face. I will never forget the days leading up to his passing, the great love his church family showed him, the hymns sung, the prayers said, and the scripture read.

I will never forget the great peace the moment he died. His suffering was over. I think how strange we must have all looked to the staff at the hospital. Here was a single man who never did great things, yet he was never alone before he died. Here was a man with very little family, yet he was surrounded by people all the time. Here was a man who was cried over before he died, but not after. After he died, we had a quiet lunch cause we all knew he was in heaven. There was nothing left to be done.

I’m thankful I had the chance to watch a saint leave these shadow lands and go to the Celestial City.

So, no matter how strange it was, that day is one of the most perfect days in my memory.

(Click here for a more detailed article about this experience.)

 

A Life of Faith instead of Sight: Mary

You told her she would have a king,

You sent an angel to inform her,

He declared the impossible birth, creating wonder.

An inspired Elizabeth gave witness to the miracle,

That You told her she would have a king.

You told her she would have a king:

And Joseph she almost lost,

Death at the worst, shame and pain at the best,

These became her future,

You told her she would have a king.

She holds you , her son, in her arms,

She studies your face,

But her faith is not sight,

She still lives by grace.

No castle, no gold, no glittering fabric,

No maids, no servants, no friends,

Just a barn on a dark night ,

You told her she would have a king…

But no king is seen…Where is her promised one?

She holds you, her son, in her arms,

She studies your face,

But her faith is not sight,

She still lives by grace.

You told her she would have a king,

And your mercy shown in the night,

Your mighty messengers came,

With a declaration of peace from the heavenly fight.

The shepherds came and told her she had a king!

And Mary treasured up these things,

Her faith made strong by grace,

She believed what she could not see,

That she had a king.

As her son, held so close in her arms,

Dies before her very eyes,

Mary holds to what she cannot see:

She has a risen King!

Mary:  a beautiful example of living life by faith and not by sight.

Inspired by Pastor Steve Garrick and Jarrett Downs during Ladies Bible Study.

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.”

Peace on Earth

I kneel not in humility,
Nor bow overwhelmed by my own sin,
No!
This joy cannot be contained,
cannot be expressed sitting still before the Lord.
I dance swirling in ever faster paced circles,
Singing in an ever louder voice,
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Man!”
This great step of grace is the reason for the season!
No longer do I face my rightful King, just death sentence on my head.
He has extended the olive branch, for His glory, to me!
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Man!”
Dancing and singing,
Driven to my feet, impassioned in my voice by this message!
A message worth the world over celebrating!
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Man!”

Sunday Thoughts: Freedom and Submission

SuValkyrie Maiden MMXbmission is way out of vogue in our day and age.  It carries the idea of forced obedience, tyrannical abuse, and a general air of door-mattidness.  But, we all have to submit.  We all have authorities over us.  Just try keeping your job without submitting to your boss or to the company’s culture.  Try not submitting next time a police officer pulls you over – just don’t call me when you get your one phone call.  We all submit to some form of authority.  Not only is authority a Biblical mandate, it’s the foundation of a peaceful, safe, and free society.  True freedom doesn’t mean getting to do what you want, whenever you want.  That’s slavery to your desires and not freedom.  Believe you me, I don’t want that kind of freedom and neither does anyone else.  I believe in giving people a lot of freedom, but that freedom demands that we are all self-sacrificing, respectful, and responsible, not mean, gross, and lazy.

But, I digress, this isn’t an article about government and the governed….or not on a political level.  This is about something I noticed the other day when I was reading 1 Peter.  As a child, I often read very short sections of my Bible, sometimes less than a whole chapter.  I could never figure out why I never understood what the Bible was teaching – I mean I read it just about every day. (This is why I’m thankful preaching is a Means of Grace and not personal Bible study!)  My husband suggested I try reading bigger chunks of the Bible, even whole books at a time.  He said it would make things easier to understand.  Not really believing him, I gave it a shot.  As you would expect….he was right.

Reading 1 Peter 2-3, I noticed something I’d never noticed before about submission.  Submission’s context is freedom.  In v. 2:13 Peter starts teaching about submission to authority.  He says “Live as people who are free”.  Then, he mentions the two specific groups who are  most often trampled under the foot of those who are mighty – servants and women.  Who has more to fear from submission than slaves and women?  How many horror stories still echo through history of the abuse of these two sub-sets of our cultures?  In some places of the world it is legal to physically abuse, rape, and murder women without a thought or any fear of criminal charges.  Story after story reverberates through the world with terror and horror.  What does the Bible say?  “Live as people who are free”.

It struck me.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I’m in this line of women.  I’m in this sisterhood, and I’m told to live as if I’m free.  How beautiful!!

But wait, there’s more!

What am I to do with this freedom?  First, I’m to know in what sense I’m free.  I’m not free to do whatever I want.  I’m still a slave, but a slave to whom???  I’m not the slave of a man.  And though I love my man very much, I’m not his slave, maid, or any of that.  I’m his wife working at his side.  There is only one to whom I’m a slave – Christ and Him Crucified.  I’m owned by no man.  My wings spread, my heart sores, and a great burden lifts from my shoulders.  No man owns me.  I’m free.  I’m a free agent and owned only by the Man who died willingly for me and rose again.  The one who is the Standing Lamb, faithful and true, is my only master. Oh, the sense of empowerment that freedom brings.

Now, I read further, what am I to do with this freedom from the manacles of man?  1 Peter 3: 1 -6: “be subject to your own husbands”.  Wait, what?  Christ calls me, as a wife, to take my freedom, and by my own choice, set it under my husband’s authority.  He commands me to take all the joy of being free, of being a woman, of being softly strong, courageous, smart, dedicated, practical, and beautiful and use it to serve the man given to me by Him.  Not for that man’s sake, not because my husband makes me, or because he’s just so wonderful I want to do every little thing he ever says, but because Christ says to.  Think about it.  You are not submitting because of your husband, but because of Christ!  Christ who loves you, is preparing a place for you, holds you gently in His hands, commands you.  How motivating is that?  How much more willing are you to grow and mold yourself into the helper your husband needs when you know you’re doing it for Christ sake?  If you have a husband who is abusive or even just unthankful, how much easier is it to be his helper when it’s not about him?  How much more passion will you put into your service when it’s about Christ?

As a young wife, who thought she had this submission thing down, I found it surprisingly hard.  I felt like I was losing myself – my Identity – and, honestly, my husband wasn’t worth that.  I felt unappreciated – don’t you see the sacrifices I’m making for you!  Then I grew bitter and unloving.  How thankful I am that Christ doesn’t abandon his sheep, ever.  How thankful I am that even when I’m not holding tight to Him, He never let’s go of me.  He never stops sanctifying me.  My submission has nothing to do with my husband and everything to do with my love for Christ.  He died for me!  He died!  Wrap your head around that one???

Do you like to watch romantic movies?  Do you like to watch romantic tragedies where just when they admit they love each other the man dies to save the woman he loves?  Christ died for you!  Someone willingly laid their life down to save you! But, and always remember this, He did not stay in that grave.  Oh no!  He rose again and rules even now! How much more should you live for Him?  Dear sister, this is what He calls us to do —> take your freedom in Christ and submit it to the authority of your husband.  Not because he’s worth it, but because Christ is.   Christ came, conquered, submitted, died, and rose for you, oh sinner.  He rose and returned to heaven to pray for you, oh sinner.  LIVE for Him!   Make yourself a slave for Christ’s sake. Trust your safety, your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, your significance to Him.  He is a mighty warrior with a bright blade.  He is The King and He is our Standing Lamb.  He is more than able to tend to your soul if you will but trust it to Him. This is the beauty of Biblical Submission.

Hold!

Me, a vile wretched monster, murderer, liar, mischievous manipulator filled with pride,  stands before God, holy, good, loving, just, and filled with humility.

“Who will stand with you?” Holy God said.

I hang my head.  Who would stand with as gross a monster as I?

“Your judgment for your sin – ”

“Hold!”

I cannot breathe.  Who holds the just judgment for me?

“I have paid in blood for this one’s soul.  She belongs to me.”

Behold my Brother, My Captain, my King stands shoulder to shoulder with me, his wounds did bleed to set me free.  He takes his cloak and flings it over me, making me clean.

“Qualified and accepted,” said God, holding His hand and not his Rod of Judgment out to me.

Who will stand by you in the day of Judgment?

(Inspired by  Larry Vincent’s Resurrection Day Sermon)

(When you measure yourself by the standard of a righteous God instead of by the standards of your fellow man, you find you have nothing to bring to qualify you for salvation.  It is an act of pure, undeserved grace to find yourself saved.  Nothing you have done or will do will ever qualify you for salvation – that’s grace.)

Sunday Thoughts: The Eighty-Five

10/27/13: Mentioned in Prayer Meeting:

The Eighty-Five

Try to put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine sitting in your pew – you know! the one you always sit in – and opening your hymn book or Bible to worship.  Imagine your dearest friends and family sitting all around you, some you don’t like so much, but you love for Christ’s sake.  You lift your voices together to sing.  You unite your voices to read the scripture.  You unite your hearts in gentle prayers.  You gather to go outside to share a meal, some lingering to catch up, some hurrying out with friends. Try to imagine what it would be like after sitting in an uplifting, convicting, encouraging Sunday Morning Service —–

The noise deafens you.

The reverberation of air forced out away from the source blows you over.

Heat races over your skin, burning you instantly.

Your ears ring.  Your nose bleeds and your head swims.  You shake it, trying to clear it of fog and fire.  You push up from the ground wondering why it isn’t clean.  What’s all this rubble and blood?  What happened?

Screaming.  You hear the screaming.  The moaning.  The weeping.  You shake your head, trying to clear it because nothing makes sense.  Weren’t you just singing a hymn as you left?  What are you seeing?  It can’t be, please Lord.  Let it not be.

Limbs, blood, parts, things no longer people litter the ground.  People no longer friends drape bowls of white rice.  Friends no longer family lay scattered about you – just bits and pieces.  She made good bread.  She just had a baby.  She never had a chance to have a baby.  He was about to retire.  He just proposed.  He just held his first son.

Try, oh sheltered ones, try to imagine the pain of looking around at what was once your family but no longer is.  Try to understand they aren’t anymore.

“Why?” you whisper.

“Why?” you scream.

Why did they come and then do this?  Why? They claim politics, but they did this because we are a church which serves Christ, the great Redeemer.  That is why they blew up our body, killed our members, and destroyed our building.  We are nothing more than simple Christians.  Our Savior was murdered and we should not expect to be treated any better, but you, dear believer in distant land, need to remember our eighty-five.  They were taken from us and rushed into our Savior’s arms.  Pray for us.  Eighty-five of our Church body were taken today.  Don’t look away from the price we paid.

Hold us close, Oh Lord.  Hold us as those truly left behind while we seek to stay true to you.  Help us to endure because of you as you refine us with very literal fire.  Hold us Lord, mend our souls.  Bring your truth to our minds and help us to remember what really happened to our eighty-five.8945805

(85 – 89 Christians were martyred in Pakistan when two suicide bombers waited for them to exit the church after their Sunday Morning service.  It is very important historically and as someone who lives in a ‘First World Country’ to remember that in other countries Christians are facing persecution, slavery and death.  Pray for our brothers and sisters in distant land.  Click here to see part of World Magazine’s article.)