Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just For Now

Just for now, I will sit on the current thoughts that are keeping me up at night. Not out of fear or embarrassment. Not out of uncertainty. But out of the desire to not write anything that would be inaccurate. I can't even write, really, what I feel. Because I just don't know exactly what that is. Troubled. Concerned. Bothered. Shaken. Those would be a place to start. For now, I'll move on. I'll come back, I promise, but not right now.

For now, I'm moving on to chapter five. I'm taking the following text from pages 75 and 76.

"God didn't desire robots in the garden that oculdn't freely choose to love and obey Him, so out of a myriad of trees, one was placed in the midst of the garden with the following command, "You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day" (Gen. 2: 16-17, TEV). The death He spoke of wasn't physical death, for Adam didn't experience physical death until years afterward (also a result from his disobedience). Instead, the Lord showed man he would be cut off from the life of God and take on the nature of Lucifer, which is death."

Seperation from God. I can imagine nothing, nothing more painful. There is nothing I fear, nothing I dread, more than the notion of anybody I love being separated from God. In my life, I've despaired. I'm not talking about sorrow, nor am I referring to tears, pain, agony, or loneliness that results from life. I'm talking about true despair. The sort that isolates a person from everyone they know. The kind that consumes your conciousness. The weight, the darkness, that settles on one's shoulders whether they are asleep or awake. The inescapable unbearable pain. That which makes a person choose to end their own life. I was blessed. Fortunate. A servant of God was there for me. Someone cared. And someone, because of the grace of God on their life, was able to lift me up. But even then, even when I sat on the edge of my bed staring at a bottle of alcohol and a pile of pills, I was not truly separated from God. How do I know? Because something deep, deep inside prevented me from following through. I can guarantee it wasn't my own "will to live." It was God. I didn't have to not do it - I could have chosen to continue that path, but I didn't. (I'd like to say, right here and now, that this blog is not, has never been, and never will be about suicide or people who've attempted (or succeeded) it). Today, and every day, I am thankful for His intervention.

But part of what moves me, what pushes me to put one foot down in front of the other and keep running this race, is that He didn't save me just for me. To clarify: Yes. Salvation is His gift. It is for me. Only I can receive it for myself, and I can only receive it for myself. But I'm not saved just so me, myself and I can go to heaven and have pie in the sky, by and by. I'm saved to be with God. Forever. And I've got time on this earth in which to make my decision. I've got time to tell others. And I've got time to get to know God - just a little. Here, I can't truly know Him as He knows me. That's beyond my comprehension. But heaven is just a place. Granted, the most extraordinary, beautiful place ever created, but a place all the same. The part that makes heaven worth spending an eternity in is God. Himself. How does a person even begin to fathom that? How can a place hold God? How does He fit?

For tonight, that's all I'll write. That which is heavy in my heart is still heavy. But not ready to come out yet.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


What's your perspective? What's first and foremost within you? What has priority? What's the most important thing in your life?

It SHOULD be God. But the problem is, other things tend to catch and hold our attention. Things take priority, but they shouldn't. Things like... babies. Sex. Marriage. Houses. Jobs. Those things are all significant, and they are very important. But they aren't the most important thing in life. I struggle with perspective sometimes. Sometimes, I forget to pray, because I'm too busy wondering if the meds are doing their job. Sometimes, I don't read my Bible because I'm scrambling to submit yet another job application. But, even though I am prone to do that, God is bigger than my ability to mess up. He's bigger than anything I can do. He's bigger than anything I can not do. He's bigger than any mistake I've ever made.

Right now, I have to focus on God. There is something I can see, something that helps my focus stay where it should be. Something that brings a little bit of perspective. It's a special something - so special, that I can't cheapen it by publishing it here in a blog.

Anyway, that's all for today. I'm tossing around with some things I've been reading in my Driven By Eternity study. Things that are significant and important and I'm just not comfortable writing about them, yet.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are You Ready?

Today, the thing I'm wondering about is this... are you ready? He's coming. My Bible says He is. I'm not trying to "preach" or to sound condescending or anything of the sort. Just... He's coming. Please be ready.

My concern, the thing I can actually do something about, is whether I myself am ready. Am I? Yes. I love His appearing. I can't wait.

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This One Thing...

There is one thing I want. One thing that I will spend every day of my life doing everything in my power to obtain. One thing that I hold dear. One thing that I truly feel is worth fighting for, sacrificing for, and struggling for. What is it?

It's been said before. Said well. In Psalm 27, verse 4:

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

And truly, in spite of anything else I may desire and seek or long for, this is my deepest desire. My deepest longing. The one and only thing in this life that is worth longing for. The only thing that can universally keep me up is the thought that others may not long for this, and worse, they won't have it. It's not my judgement, it's not my choice. It's not something I would ever, for any price, choose for someone else. There are two options for eternity: Heaven and Hell.

Listen to what God said in Deuteronomy chapter 30: 11-20:

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years...

This is significant. The choice between death and life is ours. The decision is made by us. We choose life, or we choose death.

Today, I choose life. And the thing that really jumps out at me, that really registers within me, is this: "Choose life, so that you and your children may live." My children are all in heaven. Each spent a time in my womb, but the time was too short. I couldn't tell you the color of their eyes, or the way they would laugh. I don't know if they are boys or girls (with the exception of our daughter, whom God revealed to us). I don't know what they would have enjoyed here on earth.

But today, this day, I choose life. I choose His ways. I choose His will. So that I and my children may live.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Half full, or...

I took this picture during a particularly unpleasant season in life. At the time, I didn't know why I liked it - just that I did. I hadn't been looking for any particular result when I took it - mostly, just using my telephoto lens to capture exactly what I was seeing. After a few weeks, I came across it in the middle of a bunch of meaningless, useless photos. This one stuck out, but I couldn't identify what it was that was appealing.

That was about a year ago. I found myself drawn again to this picture tonight. Why? I just like it. And when I look at it, it fits my mood. No matter what that mood may be. On dark and dreary days, I identify with the darkness. And the light seems to be just barely there. On happy, hopeful days, I feel drawn to the light. It seems to dominate the photo, and makes it all seem happy. It reminds me of the picture I've seen - where if you look at it one way, you see a beautiful woman. But looking at it a little differently yields an old hag. This picture yields both light and dark. They are reperesented almost equally. And yet, the viewer's mood can make either the light or the dark become exclusively dominant.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Driven By Eternity - Day 8

Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, with teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

In other (my own) words, eternal judgment isn't just something some people have come up with based on some obscure passage or their own interpretation of the last little dash at the end of the line. It's not just real, not just relevant... it's elementary. In the book, in Chapter 4 (I'm skipping notes on the story of Affabel - I don't feel right about trying to condense it and I won't plagiarize. Go to the website, order the Affabel series. It will be worth your time, I promise). Anyway, back to chapter 4... following that scripture, Rev. Bevere writes,

"One dictionary defines elementary as "constituting the basic, essential, or fundamental part." It's the essential part we must have right from the start to build upon; it's a foundation."

To me, this means that we can't move on beyond those basics until we get it. We may get tidbits - just as a baby occasionally gets a little morsel of mommy's food. But we need these foundations before we can truly move forward in our walk with God.

Maybe I'm unique, but I'm hung up the eternal part of this judgment. Judgment isn't necessarily bad... it can be good, too. As in the judgment to award someone compensation for a wrong done to them. It's not the judgment part that concerns me. God is just, He is Holy and Righteous. Of course there will be judgment. Our works aren't in vain. Or, rather, they don't have to be in vain. Some things we do here will be gold, silver, or precious stones in heaven. Other things, things that may not be bad or sinful but are still not for the Kingdom, will be wood, hay, and stubble. They'll all be tried by fire, and what remains will be purified gold, silver, or stones. The rest will be waste. I get that. I understand that. We need to remember that while we're here, because once we're there, it will be judged. The part that throws me, that concerns me, that keeps me awake at night, is the eternal part. While we're here, we can always say "Well, I'll get to that later." There's the notion that we'll have a chance to make it right, to do better. But once we get there... that's it. There's no more chances to do works that will yield a lasting reward. If we come through that fire with nothing but our lives, it is infinitely better than spending eternity in Hell.

But... we'll all find ourselves before Christ, wanting with everything in us to lay our treasure at His feet. As a way of thanking Him. For those who are saved but have nothing to show for it, they'll have one thing - a palm branch. A pitiful offering. I don't want to be one of those. And it's eternal. I've not seen any scripture that indicates that once we get to Heaven, we can do anything to earn more rewards or to change our status. That's the scary part... knowing that here on earth, I am choosing my eternity. Not just where, but how. And that's why I've only read one page of chapter four tonight. Because this is one of those things that keeps me awake. That messes with my head. That messes with my own theology and desires and beliefs.

The other thing that gets me is this... He is coming quickly. Come Lord Jesus. I want Him to come. But really, I don't think I actually get it. If I got it, would I live differently? Maybe. If I knew for a fact that in exactly one week He was returning, what would I do? What if it was one day? What if I knew it was in an hour? Would my sense of urgency increase? Would I be so concerned about offending people? Or would every second be spent warning people that He's coming. And it's not like if you're on the fence about it, you'll be given a chance to say, "Oh, wow, I guess that I should change my mind and follow Him" and then still get to come with us. It will be in the twinkling of an eye. We, the believers who are going, will have a brief warning - the loudest, most majestic trumpet blast we'll have ever heard. But the rest of the world? It's clear in scripture:

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
Matthew 24:36-41

See? That's what it will be. Nobody is going to CHOOSE to stay - the choice is made before hand. When you choose whom you will follow. We've been learning in church about how in the last days, it will become possible to see the difference between wheat and tares. In other words, instead of having a bunch of people who appear saved, and not being able to tell who is and isn't, it will be clear who truly belongs to God. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that as each day ticks away, it becomes more obvious who in this world has a relationship with my King and who is truly and eternally lost. And that, too, keeps me up at night.

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Flop Flop Slap

That's the sound fish make when they're out of water, gasping for breath. It's the sound I would have made, had you been listening, yesterday. Why? Did something earth-shatteringly bad happen? Nope. What happened is I took my eyes off my God, off my Provider, off my Strong Tower. And put them on my circumstances. Which most of us know is just a bad idea all around. Of course - God took care of it. We've got the solution, which isn't ideal or perfect, but it will work for now.

Meanwhile, our house project is moving along at a staggering pace. Destruction city! We are removing ALL of the drywall from inside, as well as the insulation. Gutting the house down to the studs. I'll try to post some pictures later. This will be worth it in the end. I have to keep telling myself that. And I have to keep the vision before me - the vision of a comfortable, energy-efficient, beautiful home. Because THAT is what we're all about here... a place where ministry can happen. We want our home to be used for the glory of God, in whatever way He sees fit.

We also want to be able to get our loan approved and pay my dad, so he can stop paying interest on something he should already have. If that makes sense, I'm impressed.

Other news: today marks the first "icky" day of this cycle. Headache, tired, body aches, super heavy bleeding, cramps, pain, the whole deal. In spite of that, I am noticing a distinct lack of pain in my left ovary, meaning the gigantic cyst I grew earlier this month is probably all gone now. :)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Driven By Eternity - Day 1.

Today, I am re-starting a study I began about this time last year. It was written and prepared by John Bevere. I'm going through the workbook, reading the book, watching the teachings. It will take us through most or all of this summer. I may share some brief exerpts here, but I want to be careful not to infringe on any copywrites.

"No one can begin to understand eternity."

Job 3:26, TLB
"He has put eternity in their hearts."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I've thought a lot about eternity... and I don't get it. I know it's in me, somewhere. Otherwise, how would I know that I don't get it? Eternity is forever. It doesn't begin, and it doesn't end. Nothing that we can experience on this planet is like that, and our minds don't get it.

Below, I'm including a paragraph from this book, which sums up this concept so well. It is taken from the book "Driven By Eternity," written by John Bevere, and copywrited 2006 by John Bevere Ministries, Inc. All future quotes in this dark blue color are from this same book.

"What is in truth declared unreachable to our natural mind is placed in our heart by the Creator. Eternity is known in our heart. It is born in every human being. This is why "the fool has said in his heart 'there is no God'" (Ps. 14:1, emphasis mine). Notice Scripture does not say, "The fool has said in his mind." There are many athiests who emphatically deny the existance of God, but in their heart they know He exists, for it is planted their. They've not yet hardened their heart to a complete degenerated state."
(Pages 4, 5)
I know that right now, I don't have any real understanding in my mind of what eternity is. I know that it's forever - but what's that? What does it mean to have no end? No beginning? And how does what I do now, today, on earth, impact that? Over the next months, I'll be learning.

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Today, I'm thinking about life. Not so much about whether I'm satisfied with it or about how hard, or easy, it is. Today, I'm thinking about the end of life. Or rather, the end of what we here on earth refer to as life.
I know that we can't stay here, in this flawed and corrupted body, with our flawed minds and emotions. I know that to depart and be with Christ is by far the best. And I know that those who have gone and are with Him are better than they've ever been. They're perfect, surrounded by perfection, surrounded by the epitome of love and light. I don't mourn for their sake. I'm not sad for Gramma. I'm don't regret that Anna never knew more than that. I don't wish that Mary was somewhere else. I know that there, Natalie is whole. And I know that the time will come when I will finally know them all in the form God intended from the start. And that is comforting.
Meanwhile, what about us? We're left here to deal with those final moments. Some moments are more peaceful than others. We are trapped in this place, where memories are vivid and pain is sharp. Where we have to find some way to keep living - even if those memories paint pictures in our mind every time we close our eyes. It's up to us to choose whether we'll let it push us away from God. In time, we'll be stronger for it - most of us know that. Meanwhile, what do we do?
My answer isn't profound. It's not helpful. It isn't a salve to bleeding hearts, and it won't crack stoney anger. But it's something we can really do. A tangible, physical action. We keep on keeping on. We get up in the morning. We go to work, or to school. We clean our home. We read our Bible. We go to church. We love our family. We pray. We worship. And we trust... we trust God to get us through. We trust that He's not left us ill-equipped. We trust that we really do have what we need. We trust that His Words are true. And we do it all again tomorrow.
Eventually, we find that we're a little "better" than we were before. The death of our loved one has forced us to contemplate our own demise - and to get things "right" with God and those around us.
Over the next several months, I'm going to be using this blog to sort some things out for myself. I ask that you be kind with your comments, and realize that this isn't being done so much for you as it is for myself. I'd do it privately, but I hope that by allowing readers to come along, I can maybe help some of you.

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