Brides and Grooms

I had the privilege to attend the wedding of one of my very good friends recently. This wedding is her second and she has finally, I believe, found her other half. He is a really great guy, from everything I have seen; and, they certainly deserve every happiness God can afford them.

So I’m at the wedding, sitting close to the front. The wedding starts and the groomsmen come in to wait on my friend, the bride. Then I remember my pastor saying that in every wedding he does, he looks at the groom while everyone else is looking at the bride as she enters the room. I figure why not try it myself. I’ve seen what my friend looks like. I watched some of her pictures be taken after I helped set up the reception hall.

When everyone stands to see my friend enter, I turn and look at her husband to be. I can tell the exact moment he gets his first look at her. His face turns bright pink; he bites his lip and closes his eyes. For a moment, he looks like he is either going to throw up or pass out. But when he recovers! He recovers and his face is filled with a love and pride I haven’t seen on any face other than my husband’s in a very long time.

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Then, it hits me. All through the Bible, God and Jesus are referred to as the Bridegroom of the nation of Israel and later all believers. Notable examples are Isaiah 62:5 and John 3:29. And all the times I have studied those verses I have concentrated on myself being the bride of Christ and preparing myself for Him. I mean I’m a woman; and, I was a bride about … years ago. (wink.) What is it like to be on the other side of that? What was it like for my now husband to wait for me? Does Jesus wait with bated breath, so to speak, for the time to come where he gathers those that believe in him to Heaven? Is he going to have a similar look on his face when that time comes and the living and the dead in him are caught up in the air?

I think so. I believe he is longing for us just as much, if not more so, than we are longing for him. He knows what is prepared for us in Heaven. He knows what it is going to be like when those who believe in him are all together in praise and worship. We don’t have that knowledge. We can only guess. And we’ve already been told that God does more ‘than we can ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20).

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So, as I watch my friend approach her groom, relief builds on his face that they are actually together and will be until death. I take a moment to be thankful for my earthly groom of 18 years and for my heavenly groom still waiting for his ‘bride’ to be complete and ready for a time that is beyond death.

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Defiance and defiance …

PLEASE REMEMBER: My opinions are my own. Agree, or disagree. But be nice regardless.

So I’ve started watching the new SyFy series Defiance. They give us this synopsis: In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

In a recent episode, one of the Castithans (an alien race) is being tortured, presumably to death, because he fled a fire fight. This was part of a ritual that the Castithans hold in high regard as part of their religion. A ritual that hurt no one outside their religion. Then that ritual was disrupted by Irisa, someone outside that religion. The person being tortured was cut down from his torture despite his protestations and despite the government condoning the action.

That got me thinking.

I am a Christian. It is my religion. It is my way of life. In my worldview, I see the world being tortured to death by their own choices, even if those choices are hurting no one else but them. My task as a Christian is to cut as many people down as I can (Matt. 28:19). In my worldview it is the moral thing to do, just like Irisa thought it was the right thing to do for the Casthian. When I go to do it. When I speak about Jesus and what salvation offers, I am met with resistance just like Irisa. I just can’t sit by and let people live through eternity without knowing Jesus.

Thing is, when Irisa imposed her will on another way of life, she was lauded by others. Even in real life, her actions will be seen as right and honorable. I, however, am called closed-minded, a bigot and intolerant. And I have done nothing different. All I have done is try to rescue someone who was being tortured, and am met with apathy or anger by those I am trying to rescue or even the government.

Yes, Defiance is a fictional show. Yes, the characters are not real. But actions like this happen every day. So why is it when morals I feel are not right are pressed on me it’s called tolerant and progressive; yet, when I choose to express my morals and beliefs, they are shut down and seen as archaic and intolerant? My best answer comes from 1 Corinthians ” What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor 2:12-14)

Just something to think about a bit. Again, agree or disagree. It’s OK by me, but if you comment let’s talk about what I said and not get into name calling.

A Dead Person Breathing

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing one of the best Christian singer-songwriters I have ever had the pleasure of hearing live – Andrew Peterson. His music rivals my other favorite, Rich Mullins, for its depth of meaning and beauty of language. Even the circumstances of this most recent concert were fun and cool at the same time. The concert was originally scheduled to be at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. Then, because of weather, the venue changed to the sponsoring church. At Levitt Shell, there is plenty of space for people to bring their picnics and lawn chairs to listen to whomever is playing on stage. So, even though the concert moved into a ballroom looking fellowship hall, everyone still brought their blankets and picnics to watch Andrew Peterson. Danger Boy and I were front and center for the concert and laughed when Andrew Peterson said the this the strangest concert he had ever performed in his career.

This concert was also held on Easter Saturday. So he played all the songs he knew from his catalog that were Easter related. After a few, he said something that I’m still thinking on and marveling at the imagery. He said that on Friday they laid a dead body in the tomb and on Sunday morning ‘that dead body took a breath.’

That image had stuck with me ever since. I went to bed that night tossing around questions, like:

What did it feel like those two nights between Friday and Sunday? I know what happens when we, as humans, die. But how long was Jesus forsaken by God? Was he without his presence the whole weekend? Or was he in the presence of God immediately after death? I know creeds that say he was in hell. But was he really?

What did it feel like when it was time for him to go back into his earthly body, even if it was for only 40 days. Excitement? Dread? Relief?

When he did open his eyes, how long did he have to wait before the women showed up? Was he thinking of ways to reveal himself? Not in a practical joke or silly way, but in a way that would send them running back to the Apostles.

I know the details of his resurrection aren’t important, just something to stretch my mind, because they aren’t enumerated in the Bible. What matters is that he did come back to be the first-born of the dead and be the resurrection and the life for all who choose to believe.

My stalker

Haunting, poignant and true. I love this post from Mustard Seed Budget and hope you do too.

Mustard Seed Budget

stalker_by_orendorffknightI have a stalker who regularly comes to harass me, and the Santa Monica Police Department can’t do anything about him.

He is discouragement. I can’t seem to get rid of him. I constantly need to get rid of him.

Just because I constantly am trying to encourage others, doesn’t mean I’m free of discouragement myself. It is the contrary that is true: Because I struggle with discouragement that I try to help others. This helps me.

StalkerIf you have this stalker too, then get rid of him:

  • Exercise and eat right.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid destructive behaviors.
  • Flee drugs and alcohol only mask, don’t heal, the inner pain and fears. They make things worse.
  • Prefer uplifting music. The lyrics affect your soul, whether or not you’re “listening.”
  • Eschew movies and shows with morbid themes
  • Feed on the Word of God.
  • Surround yourself with people who can lift you up…

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What Kind of Time Makes a Relationship

At my church I have the privilege of being a part of the worship team. So I get to help lead the church family in worshiping God almost every Sunday.  It’s an amazing opportunity every time I’m up there; and, it’s a topic I’ll be exploring as this blog goes along.

As part of the worship team I get to work with a remarkable worship leader, Dave. Dave came to Memphis in hopes of becoming a country music song writer. When I was first learning about him and his move to Tennessee from Indiana I he told me “I was going to move to Nashville but missed.” I am so glad he did. Dave is nothing short of amazing – not just in his ability to compose and lead a worship service – he is truly is a man after God’s own heart.

Dave and I have sung together for 15 years. In that time we have built a professional relationship to where I have learned to follow his lead on songs – where to stop, when to get soft, when to build – both old and new. I do my best to pay precise attention even now to know where he wants to music to go. And it’s become almost second nature to ‘feel’ where he wants things to sounds prayerful or joyful or majestic. I don’t just go off on my own and sing whatever feels right, because it won’t sound right and I am in a team of 3-4 others. We get to be a window and not a painting and encourage others to worship God. I owe all that to not just spending weeks and months with Dave singing, but studying how he treats this type of song or that type of worship situation.

So it is with our relationship with God. If you just spend time in the seats, then bolt out the door and do whatever you want your life just isn’t going to work. (Rom 12:2) You have to take the time to learn about what you have signed up for as a Christian (Luke 14:25-30), take the time to earn about God and the reason he came (John 15:14-16, John 3:16-17, 1 John 3:7-9)

And relationships like this take time. You can’t just read a passage or two of your Bible a couple of time and have that work. I don’t have a reference for this one, just personal experience. It takes quality time just like any other relationship worth having. And God is a jealous God (1 Cor 11:2). So imagine being infatuated with someone, claiming you want to get to know them and just talking to them when it’s convenient for you, or when you’re in trouble, or when someone shames you into it. How would that make them feel? Especially when that person loves you intensely and gets jealous when they know you are throwing your attention to things that they know aren’t good for you. God knows that the things of the world aren’t good for us, they are even set up to kill us. (Gal 5:16-18, Rom 8:12-14) It would insane.

All I ask is that those who believe, and if you’ve gotten this far you probably do, take a minute to see what God needs you to move so your time with him can improve in quantity and quality. If, by some chance, you don’t believer and you’ve made it this far do me a favor and look up the passages I’ve given and see if they make sense to you.