Death and Life

We started out alive. Very much alive. We were in direct, perfect communion with God. We had no division or misunderstanding or selfishness in our relationships with each other. We were physically healthy. We were mentally sound. We were emotionally fulfilled and whole.

And then

we

died.

God told us we would, if we did That; but we paid Him no heed.

Thought we knew best.

We tried so hard, we did. We tried to pretend we were still alive.

We hid. Hid from the One with the Answer, from the One who sees all.

And we’re still dead and we still pretend.

Outside we look alive.

Inside we are naught but a corpse.

Rotting, shriveled, dry.

We plaster on a smile and we laugh and we talk loud and we DO. Frantically, we try to convince ourselves–or at least everyone else–that we aren’t really dead inside.

But we are.

And we all know it, no matter how hard we try to make it look otherwise, no matter how many people tell us we are beautiful and good, no matter how loud we laugh, no matter how much doing we pile on top of our deadness in an attempt to look alive.

Ugly, small, not-right.

This is us.

Correction: this is us without and before Christ…Before the Christ-life comes in and fills that hollow, dried up, dead spirit of ours. Before He comes and breaths His life into our breathless spirit. Before His Life-Blood begins flowing in our spiritual veins.

But oh, when it happens–what a glorious thing!

We who were once

dead,

who were once

far off–

are alive in Christ,

brought

very near

by His precious life-blood.

Why, then, do we–who are alive in Christ–sometimes still feel dead? Why do we sometimes still see ourselves as ugly, shriveled, hopeless?

In a word:

lies.

You see, Before, the lie was:

You aren’t really dead;

somehow, someway, you can beat it.

You can

cover it up.

Hide, run

and hide.

Don’t let Him see.

Just put on some more makeup,

maybe buy some more expensive clothes.

Make sure you do everything

right.

Keep doing all those good things; maybe

that

will make you feel better.

Once we see through that lie and accept the Christ-life, however, the lie takes another twist. He whispers the other side of his deceitful tale into your delicate new ears:

You aren’t

really

alive.

You’re still just as dead as you ever were.

Look at you!

Insignificant, putrid, hollow old you.

Who do you think

you are,

claiming to be new, holy, cleansed, alive?

You’re wrong.

He doesn’t

really

care for you.

Maybe the other people–look how beautiful they are.

Not you.

Look at what you’ve done, who you are.

No…you’re still

dead.

BUT IT IS A LIE.

Just as plain and simple as that.

It’s a lie.

Lies are nothing, nothing but the twisted fragments of nightmarish thoughts from the Enemy of your soul.

The one who tricked us into believing The Lie that brought death to our souls in the first place. The one who desperately tried to keep your soul dead. And the one who, now that your spirit lives because of Christ in you, wants nothing more than to keep you believing that you are still dead.

Don’t listen.

Trust.

I know you don’t see,

yet.

You don’t see what God saw when He had the idea for you. What He knows you’ll become at the end of the story. You don’t see, quite, the glow He had–has–in His eyes when He looked at you. You didn’t see His joy when your long-dead spirit finally accepted His life and became new.

But you have to trust.

Trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He who has promised is faithful, and that He also will do it. Trust that He makes everything beautiful in its time.

Trust that His life is in you, and that

you

aren’t

dead inside

any more.

No. You are alive, very alive.

Because The One who is

The Life

is in

you.

Would You Have Done It?

Recently, I went outside for a bit at night… the stars were out, and there was one (a planet, probably) that was especially bright. It brought to mind the star that shown when Jesus was born… and I remembered the movie “The Nativity”– particularly the part where Mary agrees to carry Christ in her womb.

And I wondered… would I have done it? Would I have said yes? Would I have agreed to be laughed at, to be shunned, to be thought impure and foolish? Would I have agreed to lay down my reputation? My way of life? Would I have agreed to give up my friends? My family, in a way? Would I have agreed to risk being killed for a perceived action? Would I have agreed to look completely foolish for something I really had no way of knowing the end of?

Or would I have been too concerned with myself, with my image? Would I have been too concerned about appearing pure and blameless? Would I have been too scared to face the shame and mockery?

I don’t know, honestly. I might very well have said, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard, that’s not a good idea, what will everyone think?”

(Though, of course, I’ve never talked to an angel. That might put a bit of a different light on the matter.)

Listen to Mary’s response after her initial questioning…

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

Simple. So simple. And so full of trust and surrender. She knew who she was– and, more importantly, who God was. And she let God do what He wanted with her. She was willing to be considered impure and insane for God’s sake and at His word.

And think… think what a blessing she gained. What a blessing we gained! It didn’t make a bit of sense, at the time. But now, looking back on it all… it makes so much sense we rarely see how crazy it was.

Of course Mary had Jesus. We’ve heard it over and over.

But… there really was a girl. A girl. Named Mary. Scared, clueless. She couldn’t see what would happen. And yet she opened herself up to God. She… let Him… make her look foolish in the world’s eyes.

And… she is now most blessed among women.

How could she do it? We really don’t know a whole lot about her. But then… we don’t need to know a whole lot. What she did, on its own, says volumes. The fact that God chose her says tons. And then… we have her song. Listen to her heart…

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

What do you notice?

I see… a heart totally enthralled with God. And very much not focused on herself. I don’t know about you, but if God chose me to do that… I don’t think I would be saying things about my “low estate”… I would be thinking more along the lines of, wow, I must be pretty good to have been chosen. 😛

All her focus is on God and the great things He has done for her. And at this point she still probably didn’t really know what exactly what was going on!

Wow…

Seriously, think about it, my fellow Good Christian Girls. Don’t we want to be known for our purity and our wonderfulness? I do.

But… it isn’t about us. It’s about God. And you know… the thing about God is… He loves doing things completely backwards from the world’s thinking.

Mary was humbled, and then glorified. Sounds an awful lot like… her Son. And it doesn’t make any sense, really….

Think about the way He came to earth. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator Himself… coming as a baby?? Surely, at least, He would come as baby to some good home–but no! He came appearing as an illegitimate child!? And think how He conquered death and sin and satan!! By… dying, naked, on a cross?? It doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking.

Guess who hated Jesus the most? The religious leaders. The Good Church People.

Guess who most hates sold-out-for-Christ, Spirit-filled Christians– the ones who don’t care a particle what the world thinks? . . . Yeah. You know already.

“Can’t they like… tone it down? Do they have to be SO different?? Can’t they… blend in a little? Must they really be so radical? Do they have to do such strange things?”

Face, folks. Following Christ whole-heartedly gets our sanity questioned. It might even lose us the respect of the Good Christian People we know.

Do we really suppose that following a Man who upset the the religious institution in just about every way possible, the Man who ate with sinners, the Man who was perfect and yet died a criminal’s death, the Man who…. basically did everything differently from others… will be easy and normal and well accepted?

What does it actually mean to follow this Man? We sing “I have decided to follow Jesus”… but what does it mean? What is the cost?

Are we really willing to accept the ridicule and the shame and the hardship and the suffering and the being misunderstood?

Are we willing to follow Him… all the way?

He died, you know. It says deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

The cross isn’t some cute little symbol. It isn’t just a charm on a necklace.

It’s an instrument of humiliation… and death.

Death.

Really? Are you sure this is the One you want to follow? Are you sure you want to carry a cross? Am I?

Are we willing to be humbled as He was? To make ourselves of no reputation? To count all this as loss, that we might gain Christ? To… die? To this world, to ourselves… or literally.

Is it worth it? Is it worth giving up everything to follow Him?

Oh… I hope and pray my answer is yes.

Not my answer here. Not my words. My life. The Answer.

For what good would it be, if I gained the whole world and kept my reputation… and yet… lost my soul? What good would it be to be known by men, but… not to know God or be known by Him? What good would it be to have man’s favor, and… not God’s? What good would it be… to get to heaven and say, well everyone said I was such a sweet, quiet girl–And yet… have missed out on the fullness of God wanted to do through me?

Am I worth holding on to? Is my reputation that important? Are my desires and ideas that much better than His?

No. No, not at all.

He… gave up everything. Everything. For God’s glory. For me.

How… HOW can I do less? I must not, I will not, I cannot.

Help me, God.

We’re All Going to Die!!

Wait. If you are a Christian, you didn’t read that right. Go back and read it again. You’re not supposed to read it like Chicken Little freaking out… you’re supposed to read it like it’s the best news ever. 😀

I’ve been thinking about this rather a lot lately, and, oddly enough, it’s a very encouraging thought. (Though my sisters keep telling me I really should say “we’re going to go to heaven” instead of saying “we’re going to DIE”. Apparently “die” is too… melodramatic or something.) Anyways.

The point is: this world isn’t our home. We’re just passing through. All the joys and heartaches that go along with this world will soon be gone–the fleeting, transient joys of this earth being replaced with the real, everlasting joys of heaven: and the pain and trials of this sin-cursed world will be entirely eclipsed by the “far greater weight of glory”… He will wipe away our tears… and bid us enter into His joys.

16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Somehow, when you look at it like this… you can bear so much more on earth. You can see how He is working it out for eternity. You can see of how little value earthly pleasures are… and you will be more willing to give them up.

44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Matthew 13:44

I don’t know about you… but I can’t wait to see my Savior’s face. To think–we shall see Him!! That… is incomprehensibly amazing.

But, oh, to see our Savior’s face!

From sin and sorrow to be freed!

To dwell in His divine embrace–

This will be sweeter far indeed!

The fairest form of earthly bliss

Is less than naught, compared with this.

I don’t want to barely scrape into heaven–I want to be welcomed heartily by many who would not be there if it wasn’t for me. I want to hear that “well done, good and faithful servant”.

19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

I want to have treasure in heaven… treasure that lasts. I used to wonder if it was wrong to want that treasure, wrong to seek after it… until our pastor preached on it and said that the whole reason we are told there is treasure to be gained in heaven is so that we will strive for it. It’s a reward— we’re supposed to want it.

32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

33Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12:32-34

Sell that you have… I think it means we need to be ready to give up anything here when God asks… we need to remember that earthly treasure isn’t the real thing–and use it to gain heavenly treasure.

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 1 Colossians 3:1-4

Nevermind, we’re not going to die… we’re already dead. 😀 And since we are “dead” and our lives are hidden with Christ… our focus is now on things above.

Just a ramble about some of the verses and thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind…

P.S. Don’t worry, I’m not in a hurry to die… 😀 Since I’m still here, I know God still has more for me to do… and I wouldn’t want to miss it!!

P.P.S. This post was written from a Christian perspective, with sweet assurance that death is not something to be feared–for the simple reason that our God has conquered death and taken away the sting. I know I am going to heaven–not because I have done anything worthy of going, but because Jesus Christ has paid my penalty and covered me with His righteousness. And with this knowledge and trust, I can eagerly look forward to going home to finally meet my Savior face to face. If, however, you do not have this confidence, and you have not come to know His love and His forgiveness and salvation, please pray that God will show you Himself– and ask me or someone you know to help you.

Concerning Hearts (Not Hobbits.)

(Caution: this post isn’t “nice.” [And, moreover, I was tired and thoughtful and in an odd mood when I first wrote it.] If you are faint of heart and/or do not like the Truth, do not read it. Thank you. Consider yourself warned. :D)

I started young, unfortunately.

I had my first so-called “crush” (I hate that word) at age ten. Yes… ten. Eventually that faded… and was replaced by another. And… another. And yet another. That’s only if I count the ones that lasted at least a year.

And this without any encouragement from friends talking about guys incessantly or parents making dumb jokes or the guys out and out making it plain they returned “the crush”.

There isn’t any need to go into all the details of those: the point is that this is an area in which I have had many a desperate struggle. There are many reasons for my troubles, I suppose… the primary one being this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

I have read a great many books about purity…. Before you Meet Prince Charming… Authentic Beauty… And the Bride Wore White… Passion and Purity… Emotional Purity… Of Knights and Fair Maidens… When God Writes Your Love Story… I Kissed Dating Goodbye

I never dated anyone. Never even got into a situation where hand holding would be an issue, much less anything more serious. I’m not super flirty. I dress modestly. I have good parents. I have good friends.

Yes sir, I can check off all the right boxes. I’d score pretty high on your average “purity level” test.

And with all that, my heart has not been kept pure. Still, even now, I have to fight wrong thoughts of all kinds: not just “crush” type thoughts; but selfish thoughts, prideful thoughts, evil thoughts, lustful thoughts, despairing thoughts, and the list goes on and on.

I’d like to blame someone or something else. But when it all comes down to it, what I allow to take root in my heart is my own fault.

But no problem, right? I mean seriously… look at the mess everyone else is in! Look at all the people I know who have babies before they have wedding rings!! And then look at all my check marks! Who could ask for more than what I’ve done (and not done)??

God, that’s who.

3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5

Pure in heart, folks. That is the standard.

Do you know what? I just realized something very obvious and super brilliant.

Why is a “crush” such a big deal?! Seriously, doesn’t God have bigger things to worry about??

Good question! The reason, my dear readers, is because often times said “crush” is translated to “idolatry” under God’s HOLY eyes. If you know anything about God and have read anything in the Bible, you’ve probably discovered by now that God… well… HATES idols.

6Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:

8And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 14:6-8

He is number one. He doesn’t want to be number one: He is. This is part of why He calls Himself “I AM”.

And, from His divine perspective, He sees how incredibly dumb it is for us to exalt anything at all (heh, here is where anyone who has miraculously managed to read through the “crush” part without feeling guilty will get caught. 😛 Sorry, I didn’t make up the rules.) above Him, or to rely on anything or anyone else to supply and do what only He can.

Are there any among the idols of the nations
that can cause rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are You not He, O LORD our God?
Therefore we will wait for You,
Since You have made all these.

Jeremiah 14:21-22

He is…. so unfathomably bigger and awesomer and holier and more powerful and more beautiful and… yeah.

Sorry, me and everything and everyone else, we are now extremely teeny, gray, sinful, ugly, and pathetic. (See, I told you this post wasn’t nice.)

Hence, readers, hence “The Key” is not to simply read books about purity. It is not to just dress modestly. It is not to have the right checks on the purity test.

Oh, no. It’s much, much harder than that. And much, much more awesome.

Are you ready?

No, really. Are you?

I don’t think you are. I’m not. Too bad, I have to write it anyways.

You don’t have to read it though. I’m giving you a chance. Be grateful.

Okay. This is IT. I have figured it out. *deep breath*

You seek God. With your WHOLE heart. You love God. With your WHOLE heart.

Well obviously, right? That’s like… the answer to everything.

Yep. ’tis.

See… when our heart learns to be enamored with the beauty of the Lord… when our spirit grows into closer communion with His… when His thoughts gradually become our thoughts… when our mind is filled with His Truth… when our ways are shaped into His ways…

We will be too busy loving and serving the One True God to have any idols. Or crushes.

So, my fellow sojourners on this wild journey called life: don’t focus on purity. Strive for it, yes. But not purity alone. That is rather a small goal, in a way. Hear me out! Don’t leave!!!

Yes, purity is a high (and, humanly speaking, impossible… :P) goal. Yet, there is a higher goal. And in reaching for that higher goal, then and only then can we hope to be truly pure.

And that goal is to know God more. Always more, never enough.

Point One: In the strictest sense of the word purity, we are all impure. (Yes, yes, I know. In the sense of sexual purity, you can be physically pure. I’m talking about the broad, “heart” sense.) And we can never hope to be pure without the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It all starts with this. You can’t know God without it, and you can’t be pure without it, and you can’t see God if you aren’t pure (Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8), and yeah. You had better start here.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews 9:22

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26

(And yes, remission means forgiveness… which basically means to “wipe out” all past offenses. We no longer owe our blood to pay the fine for our sins: Jesus’ blood has paid that fine for us. Hence our account is clear. It is reconciled.)

Point Two: we can never be pure if we continue to allow impure thoughts and things (Of any kind!! I am not simply talking about sexual/romantic things: I mean everything that is displeasing to the Lord.) in our hearts and lives. We must repent of them and do our best to remove them from us utterly.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 20:22

Point Three: Seek God!! Saturate yourself with songs, books, movies, people, thoughts, blogs, etc. etc. that will help you to fall more in love with Christ: things that will jerk your focus off of you, off of others (or rather “The One”) and onto Christ.

Read books like: The Bible, Crazy Love, Dug Down Deep, Humility: True Greatness, Mere Christianity, Forgotten God, Rees Howells: Intercessor, Don’t Waste Your Life, Living the Cross Centered Life, E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Wrestling Prayer and so on and so forth.

Pray, hard and often. Ask God to help you to want Him more. Ask God to help you pray. Ask God to show you more of Himself. He will. He loves those prayers.

So turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Be warned, however. You will find that as you draw closer to God, He will require more and more from you. He will raise the standard. Things that are okay for others will not be okay for you. Things that were not wrong for you a few months ago may be wrong now.

Do not be disheartened or deterred from this path: with the higher requirements comes deeper communion with God. And it is glorious.

Each new level of purity that God brings you to comes with a new level of knowing God. It is a process. A long, hard, lonely one. I have only just begun it– and already I feel the pain.

Being refined and purified is not pleasant. Have you ever watched a blacksmith work? have you seen the way the heat the iron? The way they pound it? And that’s just iron.

“To remove the dross from silver ore, the ore must be crushed, roasted and then fired at temperatures of 550 C [1022 F]”

Ow.

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Proverbs 25:4

What is dross? “A mass of solid impurities”.

It must go. It’s of no use to anyone. And the process of getting rid of it is painful. Just ask silver. 😉

Remember: God brings us all along at different rates. There is no cause for either looking down on people who are “behind” you in one area or feeling hopelessly lacking as you look at someone who is much farther down the road. Just keep your eyes on Him. And if you want the process to go a little faster, do your part: draw nearer to Him. Ask Him to refine you and make you pure. Submit to His firing and pounding.

But He will be with us each step: holding our hands, strengthening our hearts. And He will show us the blessings of the narrow path. He will become more valuable to us than any earthly treasure. And we will come out refined: pure at long, long last. A fit vessel for The King.

 8O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

9Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

10For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

11Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

12Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. Psalm 66:8-12

I Own Three Bibles

Three!!

And that’s just me. We have (at my most conservative estimate) ten other Bibles in our house. Probably closer to fifteen–perhaps even twenty.

I thought I didn’t take this blessing for granted. I thought I was grateful for having so many Bibles so readily available– in my language.

And then I started talking to Michiko [Mechi-co]. Her sister Yuko is a good friend of ours, and Michiko was visiting her from Japan for the second time. Or at least the second time we know of… On that visit, she became interested somewhat in Christianity: she saw the difference it had made in her sister’s life, and she wondered what had happened. Yuko did her best to explain things to her, and purchased a Japanese/English Bible for Michiko to read.

We went over Yuko’s house to visit (and eat–Yuko is an awesome cook. Chicken curry, anyone? :D), and we “ended up” talking about the Bible.

Michiko didn’t know anything about the Bible. Anything at all! Imagine that. Seriously, I mean it– Think about what that would be like!!

She was intensely interested in learning more: more about the Bible, more about Christ… and, in broken English, she attempted to ask us questions–and, in simple English, we attempted to explain things.

Now, I learned a wee bit of Japanese, but none of it really comes in handy for this sort of thing… “Good morning” “Please pass the salt” “Where is the computer?” um… I mean… uh… 😛 Thankfully, Michiko knows a great deal more English than I know of Japanese, so we were able to understand each other fairly well. (Though we did keep the dictionaries handy. :D)

Wow, what an experience. I can’t even explain the blessing it was… I’m sure it’s always exciting when someone is interested in learning more about Christ–but someone from a whole ‘nother country! And someone who is the sister of someone you had prayed for years to become a Christian!!

It made me really value something I had only occasionally thought about: the fact that I’ve grown up learning about the Bible. I have a great deal of the history in my mind: when I read about Elijah in the book of John, I know who that is–and I can find the place where it talks about him in the Old Testament.

Seems obvious to those of us who have heard Bible stories about Elijah since we were three, I know: but that was one of the questions Michiko asked me after reading in John a little. When I want a verse about a particular topic, one comes to mind. (Even if I do have to do a little hunting to find it… :P) When I’m struggling with something, a verse comes to mind. When I want to help someone, a verse comes to mind. Thanks to my parent’s diligence and church and God’s work in me, my mind is quite full of scripture.

As I attempted to answer Michiko’s questions, I felt so… inadequate. There is SO much to tell! And I only had a small amount of words to use! Somehow, though (Which translates to: with the help of the Holy Spirit), I/we were able to explain many of the major things to her… like the fact that Jesus is a mediator between us and God. I used the example of a translator, since that was a word and concept she knew very well (haha). It is so cool when God uses you in cases like that… and when motions and/or easily understood examples come to mind just as you need them. 🙂

As she told us some sad things from her family life, I pointed her to different passages in scripture, and watched as she understood what to do and what God did for her… it was amazing to see the power of the Bible in that way.

One thing that particularly struck me was when she read 1 Corinthians 13… half surprised, half glad, she said, “love is not proud?” and I said,” no, it isn’t.” And explained a little. She said, “I’m so happy!” And told me that a friend of hers had told her (after a breakup) “please, have pride.” It was so… interesting to see the difference between man’s ways and the Bible’s ways… and what a relief it was to her that she didn’t need to be proud.

All of that has left me with a greater appreciation for the Bible… and for all of the years of hearing it and reading it. If you, too, have your own copy of the Bible, and were raised hearing and reading it– please, don’t take the wonderful gift you have been given for granted. Be grateful. And share what you have learned.

The Bible is… like no other book. Read it, treasure it, follow it.

Just Enough Light…

Recently, as I was talking to a mom from church about prayer and such things, she recommended a book called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”.

The title alone was a great help for me… it caused me to realize that even though it often feels like there is great deal of darkness surrounding me, I do have light–for this point in my life’s journey. And it is sufficient.

In fact– if the whole staircase of my life was lit up right now, it would be overwhelming. I wouldn’t be able to focus on this step. And, furthermore, I would likely see things that would pain me and cause me to be afraid.

One or two steps is plenty, thank you.

Sometimes, though, the darkness seems so thick that it is hard to believe that there is a next step–that you will actually move forward.

And that is when you reach up, and ask God to hold your hand–to lead you on and comfort you. Just like a little child in a dark room would reach up to his Papa’s hand.

“I walk forward,

one step at a time,

fully trusting that

the light God sheds

is absolutely sufficient.”

-Stormie Omartian, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.

What is This Wet Stuff On My Face?

I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. Too “girly”. Or something to that effect. I’m not exactly sure what my problem was. But I made it a point to do my best to avoid it, and was quite proud of myself when I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. I was tough. I didn’t need to cry. Everything was fine. I could handle it.

Or could I?

Something happened to me several months ago, something very good: I got in way over my head. And I couldn’t handle it. From my perspective, there was no way out of the mess I seemed to be in–at least not any way that did not involve tremendous pain. And, finally, I broke down and I cried. Hard. It hurt. But it was a different sort of crying from what I had known: It helped. It was the kind of crying that comes when you reach the end of you, and you need God. The kind where God meets you– and you find strength to continue: His strength.

So, I started learning. Or rather, God started teaching me. Crying, especially the sort of crying I’m talking about, is actually a sign of strength… in an odd sort of way. It declares that you have reached the end of yourself, and it forces you to run to God for help. It is a prayer–a desperate crying out to God: straight from the heart. It is humbling, especially for someone who used to avoid crying. It takes strength of character (and awe of God) to admit that you are weak.

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have learned that many of my best prayers have come through tears–Tears for other people’s pain, tears for my own pain, tears for my sins.

It is freeing and refreshing, somehow. (Even if you do get awful headaches and even if your nose will drip.) It brings healing and peace–and even joy.

3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 123:3-6

Now, I still don’t advocate crying excessively. For one, your head will always hurt, and for another, you’ll use up all the tissues. Okay okay. Seriously, it isn’t a good habit to cry over everything and anything. But if you have a good reason to cry– for instance, you’re praying about abortion, or you see the horror of your sin and are repenting, or you know a friend is going through hard times, or you yourself are pained–don’t hold it back. Let the tears come. But don’t just cry–cry out. To God.

5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:5-6

He’s used to it–just look at Hannah, or David, or any number of others in the Bible:

Hannah:

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1 Samuel 1:10

David:

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Psalm 120:1

Hezekiah:

1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

2Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

3I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

4And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

5Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

6And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 2 Kings 20:1-6

Ezra:

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra 10:1-2

Job:

My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tearsunto God. Job16:20

Paul:

Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:19

3And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4

Jesus:

41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. Luke 19:41-42

Jesus wept. John 11:35

(Allow me to point out that there is only one female in that group: crying is for men, too. Hello! Jesus wept, people!!!)

God knows we are dust:

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

He knows we are miniscule (way better than we do, heh.): He knows we can’t do it. And He loves nothing more than when we come to Him broken and humble, pleading with Him for help and forgiveness.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

(Remember Romans 4 –we who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are counted righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross. )

So go ahead–cry every once in a while. You have my permission. 😉

Just make sure you’re crying to the Right Person, for the right reasons.

Oh, and please: don’t forget to put your smile back on when you’re done. Okay? Okay. Thank you.

Why? Because this world is not our home, and we are looking forward to that day when He will wipe away our tears.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4