Tuesday, August 4, 2015

El Roi - The God Who Sees Me

If there's one name of God that I love more than all others, it would be this one - El Roi, the God who sees me. Spoken of by Hagar in Genesis 16:13, I believe her words go deeper than a mere passing observance. Hagar was the slave of Sarai (later to be known as Sarah), whom Sarai had given to her husband Abraham in order to conceive a son. She did conceive, which made her hate her mistress (Genesis 16:4). Sarai took her to task (Genesis 16:6), and Hagar ran away.

Let's stop and think about Hagar's position for a moment. She's a slave. She must do what her mistress tells her. Perhaps Hagar didn't want to lie with Abraham. But she must. And she conceived. That son would not be hers, but Sarai's - the very son Sarai couldn't have. It doesn't take long before there's enmity between the women. Hagar is bitter at Sarai for making her conceive, and Sarai is bitter at Hagar for being able to conceive when she couldn't.

When Hagar runs from her mistress, she literally has nothing. She has no freedom. She has no husband of her own (she was given to Sarai's husband, which makes Sarai the dominant wife and her mistress). She has no friends. Sarai is not kind to her. And she doesn't even have the child growing inside of her, because it will be given to Sarai.

That's when God steps in. This is where the story takes a drastic turn for Hagar. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and says, "God has heard your affliction" (Genesis 16:11). He tells her about the son she will bear, how He will multiply her seed, and He gives her hope for her baby's future. Then she gives the Lord a name - The God Who Sees Me.

Through it all, Hagar had nothing of her own. She had no status in life. Her way was miserable. No one saw her. No one cared for her - except the only One who matters. GOD saw her. GOD cared. And God gave her hope and counsel. This must have blown her away. This must have humbled her greatly. The Almighty God of the universe sees and cares for her, a slave! How can it be?

This is why I love the name "El Roi" so very much. Time and time again, God has shown me that He sees me too. When no one cares or can even understand, God does. When my heart aches, God sees me. When I cry upon my pillow, God sees me. When I sing in my kitchen...God sees me.

Who am I? No one! That's what amazes me. God doesn't have to love me - He chooses to. And like Hagar, when I cry out to Him, He gives me hope and counsel. Often I talk about my love for God and how it consumes me. But if God hadn't loved me first, I wouldn't love Him (1 John 4:19). He cares about what happens in my life. He sees everything.

That's what gives me comfort. I don't hope He sees, I KNOW He does. He shows me all the time. He listens to my afflictions and dries all my tears. He reaches down from Heaven to bring me peace and calm my fears. I don't have to explain myself or give long backstories because He knows already. If He hadn't come into my life much like He came into Hagar's, I would likely drown in my despair.

Everything in my life, God knows about. Every joy and every heartache. I am not lost in a sea of believers, I am singled out. I am not merely one of many in a grand collective, but a very specific jewel the Lord both cuts and appraises.

His goal for my life is to conform me into the image of His Son. In that way, God is very invested in my life. This is how everything works together for the good to those who love Him. Even suffering now serves to mold me into Christ's image, which is the greater good. Pride and self-righteousness are burned away in the Refiner's fire, leaving humility and grace behind.

El Roi reminds me that He is with me always. He knows everything I'm going through. He is not at arms' length, but my very breath. He isn't far away, but in the minutia of my day-to-day. He sees me, not only when I'm at my best, but also when I'm at my worst, grumbling and complaining - even though I'm infinitely rich in Him.

He knows my frame, that I am but dust, and yet He sees - He cares - because I am His child. I belong to Him. Because He sees, I don't have to worry. Because He sees, I know He shall care for me. Any injustice against me is seen by the Singular Eye of Heaven upon me. All my praise is known by Him, every word I speak is heard. Every prayer is listened to.

Within the name of El Roi, God's omniscience is glorified. He is all-knowing. And because He is all-knowing, He sees me. But it is not impersonal, this seeing. He cares about everything that happens to me, as what happens to me, through Christ, also happens to Him (Matthew 25:40Acts 9:3-5). Because He sees, I can rest in knowing that God will take care of whatever comes my way. He doesn't just see, He cares, He loves, and He is fierce in protecting His own.

This name also comforts me to the uttermost when I am brought low in my loneliness. When I lament that no one seems to understand, there is One who does. If I feel as if my deepest heart of hearts will never be explored, there is One who continually explores it. When I'm unsure if I'll stumble on my way, the Lord sees my steps and guides my path. If the whole world forsakes me and cannot comprehend who I am, it is EL ROI who takes my hand and leads me home.

For He is the only One who truly, lovingly, assuredly, and completely sees me.

Thank You, Yeshua, for knowing - and loving - even me.
"You see the depths of my heart - and you love me the same. You are amazing, God." ~~Chris Tomlin

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Truth about Godly Womanhood

What does it mean to be a godly woman? I've found many resources that talk about integrity, grace, peace, gentleness, and exuding true femininity. Christian women, both speakers and bloggers, have addressed this topic many times over, from texts such as Titus 2 and Ephesians 5, giving pointers and advice on how to be more godly, from one woman to another. This advice comes in many forms, but the bottom line is usually study more, pray more, and teach younger women and children about God.

Examples are given of the woman in Proverbs 31, who, let's face it, humbles the lot of us. Sometimes we find a study on Ruth or Esther or Sarah, which showcases how to wait on the Lord, how to trust in Him, and yes, even how to submit to one's husband.

There is no doubt these examples and advice are sound, being rooted and grounded in Scripture. And yet, from all these studies, there seems to be something...missing.

What's missing?

The awe-inspiring, high-and-lifted-up, never-ending, lifelong pursuit of our Beloved Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before we teach the children, we must teach ourselves. Before the elder married women teach the younger newlyweds, they must first know what it means to pant after the Lord God like a deer panteth for the waterbrooks. And not only that, they must experience it for themselves.

Head-knowledge begets head-knowledge, but experience is a testimony.

Women are taught how to be good wives and mothers, but they must first be taught how to be true Christian disciples. High above all else is our love for our Savior. Above our husband, our children, our possessions, our pets, our family, and our friends. This involves knowing sound doctrine and also having an awakening to the Beauty of the Lord of Hosts.

Christians love Jesus. That's a given. I have no doubt my sisters in Christ love their Lord. But...how deep is that love? Is He the pursuit of your LIFE? Is He the One for whom your heart beats? Is He the Alpha and Omega of every day of your life? Do you wake up thinking of Him and go to sleep praying to Him? Do you live, breathe, and adore the King of kings? Would you lay down your life for Him? Do you strive to know more of Him? Is your entire being consumed with knowing Him and making Him known?

Ladies, I daresay our Biblical examples of this kind of love should be Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene.

How can a woman be the best wife/mother/daughter/friend she can be? By putting Jesus first in her life. The woman who knows who she is in Christ, who gives Him her whole heart, is then free from making her husband, her children, or her family idols before Him. Her identity isn't in striving to be the Proverbs 31 woman, her identity is in CHRIST alone.

Now, once a woman realizes that great truth, there's something else we should consider about being a godly woman, and this is something I've never seen in all those commentaries, blogs, and series I spoke of above. It is not easy. In fact, it is likely the most formidable endeavor a woman will ever face.

Unless your entire life revolves around the church, being a godly woman means you'll be distancing yourself from friends. They'll stop calling. They'll be too busy. They don't mind YOU as long as you don't bring HIM along (if you know what I mean). What they find fulfilling will become hollow and vain to you. What they laugh about, you find vulgar. What they find entertaining is distasteful to you. And even if you have Christian friends, when you make a solid commitment to follow Jesus and pursue that young stag that skips across the mountains of Bether, they'll soon be left behind. Unless they're willing to pursue Him with you as the passion of their lives, they'll only be able to give you blank stares when you ask them, "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"

And they'll reply by saying, "What is your Beloved more than another beloved that you thus adjure us?"

The same is true for your family. If sisters and brothers and other relations don't share your convictions, being a godly woman can be trying and draining. You'll feel as if you have to "put away Jesus" whenever they come over. Conversations are about the weather, sports, or current events. They'll feel like it's somehow "okay" to tell you blasphemous jokes because you'll get it as a Christian. Hey, even God has a sense of humor, right? If conversation does happen to venture into Christianity, it's awkward and uncomfortable.

Being a godly mother means praying for your children. Every single day. It's being terrified the world will lead them astray. It's knowing you have no control over the Spirit of God. It's knowing God reveals Himself to whom He wills and you find yourself weeping at the foot of the cross for the Lord to bring your babies into His fold. And sometimes, it's having to let them go their way and leave it in God's hands when they reject your beliefs.

Being a godly wife means loving your husband, even when he's not particularly lovable at times. It's striving to cling to Jesus with all you've got if your spouse doesn't believe. And if he doesn't believe, it's going it alone with no spiritual head to guide you. It's sacrificing yourself for another, and being an example of Christ to build up your spouse and not tear him down. It's not yelling and screaming though you really want to. It's turning the other cheek in arguments, and helping to make family decisions in a wise way. It's reaching for and grasping onto that gentle and quiet spirit which God finds so lovely.

This is hard work. I daresay this is impossible work without the Spirit of God. Being a godly woman isn't about flowers and puppies and sunshine and rainbows (see apropos picture above). It is sweat; it is tears. It is heartbreak and agony. It's depression and loneliness, the sting of which is unlike any you've ever felt before. It is feeling foreign and odd, weird and uncomely. Some people will hate you, others will laugh. Perhaps they'll even scoff.

The more you love and serve Christ, the more you'll realize your need for Him. His glorious fragrance to you is a stench in others' nostrils. You'll have no one with which to talk to about the deeper points of theology. Even if your husband is a believer, he is still a sinful creature and cannot completely fulfill you. Time and time again, you are learning to (as Spurgeon well put it) "kiss the wave that throws you back against the Rock of Ages." It would seem that while we find fellowship within the Body, we are each individual members who go through the gate to Heaven one at a time.

Our Lord told us to expect this. Our lives should be marked by hardship and persecution if we're truly walking as Yeshua walked. In this life you will have trouble. But we take heart - He has overcome the world!

However, the story doesn't end there. Christianity is full of paradoxes. The weak are made strong. The dead become alive. In humility there is glory. The life of a godly woman is also a paradox. While living a life dedicated to Christ is a narrow way that's uphill and full of brambles, it is also the most fulfilling life you'll ever lead.

In sorrow, there is joy. By peeling away the layers of this world, Yeshua reveals Himself as our steadfast Companion - the One who never leaves us nor forsakes us. When the world condemns us, in Him there is no condemnation. When the world judges us, we remember it is God who justifies. When our family walks away, He sticks closer than a brother. When our spouses are indifferent, He is our Bridegroom. When our parents are absent, He is our Father. He becomes for us exactly what we need.

So yes, while I agree we as godly women should study more and pray more and teach younger women and children, we must first know who we are in Christ and experience His love shed abroad in our own hearts, which is as strong as death, its jealousy as fierce as the grave. It's flashes are flashes of fire -  the very FLAME of the Lord.

And here I ponder, at the end of my essay, if we should not consider another title for godly women? I shall therefore close with a suggestion. Rather than be known as godly women who bake casseroles for potlucks, let us be known as WOMEN OF GOD, warriors of faith who stand fast on the battlefield of the Lord God Almighty. Hallelujah, my sisters in Christ. Amen.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Fervent Prayer of a Righteous Child

Give me strength, Lord. Give me words to say. Fill my mouth with grace and my heart with truth. Give me Your love for everyone and keep my fire lit. May my robes be perfumed with You, that others may perceive I have been with Christ - give me courage to be an ambassador of Heaven.

Keep my feet on the straight and narrow and may lives be changed because through me, others encounter You. Help me to be discerning, that I may know right from wrong, good doctrine from bad doctrine, and proper hermeneutics.

Bring peace to my life - and if that is not Your will, give me the grace to endure.

Let nothing unsavory pass my lips, but only words that build up and edify.

Jonathan Edwards once prayed to be the one Christian in his generation who would be the most holy and Christlike:

On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. ~~Resolution 63

As the chiefest among sinners, I don't think I have the right to pray that prayer -- is it humble to ask for such? But in the spirit of that prayer, may I be a Christian others see Christ abiding in, and see His life flowing more abundantly through me. May I inspire others with a hunger for the same, as one match lights another.

I do not ask to be like Westley, who prayed for people to come and watch him burn - no, I want to light others on fire as well so they too may kindle hearts and minds to Your truth. But I can do none of this on my own strength - be with me, Lord Jesus, as a lily among thorns. Keep my eyes ever on You, keep my heart beating in time with Yours.

Pour out Your Spirit on this generation through the fountain of Living Water flowing from my heart and from the hearts of others like me. Teach us to worship in Spirit and Truth - teach us the path of righteousness for Your name's sake.

Illuminate Your Word to be the light unto our paths and a lamp unto our feet. Compel Your Church to return to her first love and treasure You as the pearl in the field they'd gladly sell everything for.

May Your Gospel come alive and burn in our hearts with a zeal for our God that cannot be fathomed. Keep our thoughts on what is good, and pure, and holy, and direct our focus on being Your hands and Your feet in this broken, dying world.

Raise us up to show the world true Christianity as it is meant to be: Glorifying Christ, exalting Your Word, and having beautiful feet, which brings the good news upon the mountains, publishes peace and happiness, and publishes salvation, saying unto Zion,

"Your God reigns!"

Praise the Lord! May it be, my precious Yeshua. The fervent prayer of a righteous child can accomplish much. May this little prayer of mine find others to pray the same; may You fan these flames, and exceedingly abundantly enable this prayer to accomplish above all I can ask or think among the hearts of Your people -- a wildfire of the Spirit of God!

Until we fly away to Glory, this is my prayer, in Jesus' name.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

May the Engine of My Life be the Glory of God

No one understands me.
No one is as dedicated to God as I am.
No one seems to care about Him like I do.

Have you ever had similar thoughts about yourself? I've had a few ponderings on this blog about loneliness and solitude before. I've often had long thoughts about my entire life and how things have coalesced throughout my days. I don't know about you, but I see a pattern about myself. It intrigued me enough to blog about it and find out how many others, if any, might agree with me.

At one time or another, we have all felt like loners. We might have a certain hobby or interest that others don't share. Maybe depression isolates us. Perhaps we live alone. Maybe we lost someone close to us. Our parents don't understand us. Our spouses are clueless. Our friends are selfish. There are many ways to feel like a loner or an outcast. However, for a certain kind of people, this seems to be the brew that raises up many an introvert - those who thrive on their own company and feel drained by the company of others.

The Good Lord has a place for all kinds of personality types at His table, but it would seem the introverts are His closest friends. The Puritans spent many long hours pouring over the Word of God in their studies. Men like Jonathan Edwards did the same. Spurgeon spent countless hours writing, editing, studying, and reading for the Lord. Tozer and Lewis also prefered the four walls of their libraries to worldly interaction. Down through the ages, you can spot them if you know what to look for. Men and women who lock themselves away, who feel uncomfortable in social circles, and yet, despite their solitude, they end up doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God.

These are the thinkers, the ones who spend time with Jesus. And not just "some" time, but a lot of time. Most of their time. They get what Paul meant when he said "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Jesus is not an untouchable deity but a magnificent reality in their lives. He walks with them in the cool of the day. He is the driving force of their existence. There's something different about these people. Just being around them makes one want to be a better person. Others start guarding their mouths. In fact, some might actually become happier in their presence, and find the fog of their own reality lifts just a bit. Why is that?

All my life, I've been odd. Odd for God. Whenever I got my allowance, I went to the Christian bookstore and bought some new cassette or poster. The walls of my room were covered with Jesus. My favorite movies were The Ten Commandments and Jesus of Nazareth. I only listened to Christian music. I wore Christian t-shirts, and once drew an epic, awesome Lion of Judah on the back of my jean jacket (I still daydream about that thing). I drew crosses on my book covers and assignments. I got baptized, went to Christian concerts, and Harvest Crusades. Named most of my children with names from the Bible, and even throughout my time in the wilderness away from God, I never stopped listening to my music or praying (somewhat tepidly). Now, I have this blog, I minister on Facebook, and I've written a couple of books for Jesus. The walls of my house are still decorated with Him, and loud Christian music flows from my car windows.

But more than all of this outward Christian fluff, my heart has always been set on a singular course. The only star in my sky is the Bright and Morning Star. I have had many loves, but the Love of my life is Jesus Christ. There has been none more faithful, more peaceful, or more awe-inspiring than the One who sits upon the Throne of Grace. Without our hearts in tune with His, everything we do is vanity. It wouldn't matter how many concerts I attended or how many books I've written. If my heart isn't right with God, it isn't right.

And therein lies the conundrum for the Christian introvert. While many Christians have a right heart toward God, there are only a scant few who actively pursue Him. We beat our drums, we send up our prayers, we praise the Living God, but for whatever reason, likely His reason alone, our faith goes deeper than the superficial. We want more than praise songs, more than sermons. We want more than missions, more than Bible studies. At the heart of it all, we want to know CHRIST and Him crucified.

I have a saying that just came to me one day during my private prayer time and it was so deep, I shared it with my Facebook and Twitter followers. It reads, "May the engine of my life be the glory of God." How many Christians can actually claim that over their own lives? Is the driving force behind all you do done for GOD'S glory? Is it really? This is the essence of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

I may not have always been a shining example of Christ to the world, and those closest to me know how often I've let them down in one way or another. But it's this "otherness" toward God that I've always had, a desire to push, to know, to glorify. A need to pursue, to understand, to exemplify. I suppose the Scriptures would call this "hungering and thirsting for righteousness". This is more than claiming to be Christian and surfing the waves of salvation - this is deep-sea diving and bringing up pearls and sunken treasure. This is a willingness to plunder the depths, breadths, and heights of God in a way no one else seems to dare. Far beyond what He can give us is the drive to obtain HIM and no other.

And that brings us to the main thrust of this post, what I have been mulling over for a few days now.

We are all made righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we are all holy in the sense that we're set apart in God, by God, and for God. But there's a handful of Christians who truly do consecrate themselves actively, not passively. God seems to grant them the grace to long for and pant after holiness, which sets themselves further apart, even from other Christians.

THIS is the golden thread woven down throughout all the days of my life. In my salvation, I was made holy, set apart in God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Throughout my sanctification, I am made holy by God and through the power of His grace. Why? For what purpose? So that I may be made holy FOR God, to be holy as He is holy.

This world is a vastly UNholy place. When true holiness takes root, people notice. It's strange, this holiness. It's laughable, terrible, and beautiful all rolled up into one. The world doesn't know what to do with holiness. So they either revere it, are speechless by it, or shun it altogether. This is why people's attitudes change when they're in the presence of holiness.

God has me on a very specific path to know Him, one that others have trod. But since we're so few and far between, we can sometimes feel alone. Brethren, you are NOT alone. You are not awkward, strange, or foolish to want more of God - you are HOLY, set apart for the Master's use. Everyone who has ever pursued God in Scripture has been on their own holy path. The prophets were alone. John the Baptist was alone. The Apostle Paul knew he was different than everyone else. I'm sure he felt alone. John the Apostle was definitely alone. And then there's Jesus - who's the holiest of any of us, and He made it a point to be alone, and not just "alone", but alone with God.

Holiness is more than doing good deeds. Often we think of it as such. But it's much more living and active than that. It's deliberately grabbing a hold of God and not letting go until He reveals Himself to you, like Jacob who wrestled with Him. You will not leave the fight unscathed. Neither did Jacob; he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. But as the Michael Card lyrics go, "Pain's the path to blessing - Love will fight us to be found". 

God calls every believer to be holy at this level. And while we are all made righteous in Christ, only a few step out of the boat. Only a few are called up to the Mount of Transfiguration. Those of us who desire to lean our heads upon Yeshua's chest are the Peters, James', and Johns of the faith. We are His inner circle. And while we may spend many hours cloistered away with Jesus and away from the world, it is arguable, brethren, that this is what is needed to change the world.

How do you be like Jesus? You spend time with Jesus. And spending time with Jesus makes you holy and set apart from all others. Embrace your holiness, therefore, and ask God for a life more abundant, and for rivers of Living Water to flow from your heart.

May others think of JESUS whenever they think of you. Be ye holy as He is holy.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Life More Abundantly - Short Study on John 10:10

Whenever John 10:10 is quoted, it's usually just the first half about Satan, or the last half about Christ. It's not often you hear the entire verse quoted together. But the Lord showed me recently in my personal study time that this Scripture is meant to reflect what Satan does compared to what the Lord does. It is meant to be read as a whole, to compare and contrast the enemy verses the Lord.

Let's break it down -

The thief does not come except to STEAL, KILL, and DESTROY.
The Lord comes that they MAY HAVE, LIFE, MORE ABUNDANTLY

The opposite of steal would be to give. When our Lord says they "may have", He's referring to the gift of His salvation. Not necessarily "will have", because some people don't become Christians. Therefore He comes that they "may have" this gift.

The opposite of kill is to give life. Christ does give life, as He IS the Life. So while the thief wants to steal and kill, the Lord has come to give the gift of Life.

The opposite of destroy is more abundantly. To destroy something is to pull it down, wreck it, demolish, obliterate, or ruin it. To have something in abundance is to have plenty of it, it is lavished upon you, bountiful, copious, and plentiful.

Notice how the words are all present tense. Kill, steal, destroy - these are ongoing, they are in the here and now. He has not "stolen, killed, and destroyed", it is what the thief continues to do. When the Lord gives His rebuttal, His words are present tense as well. May have instead of "have had". Life that's ongoing and eternal, rather than one that can be killed. And more abundantly instead of "in abundance". It assumes a continuance of the abundance - "more abundantly" - as if the abundance is an ever-flowing fountain.

The Lord gives us life, and not just life, but life more abundantly. A better life than these 70-80 years on earth. A life that continues on into eternity. A life with blessings that never end (Ephesians 1:3).

The Lord also does not say "can have life", but rather, "may have life". If you're like me, you probably had those parents or teachers in school who made you say "may I" instead of "can I" when asking a question. We CAN do a lot of things. But the real issue is MAY we do them? We do not mean to ask if we have the ability to do something, rather, we're asking if we have permission.

Here, Christ is saying we MAY have life - if we ask Him, He is willing. He allows anyone who comes to Him to have Life in His name (John 20:31).

The Lord says that He comes that "they" might have life. Who are "they"? In context of John 10, the Lord says He is the Good Shepherd. "They", therefore, are His sheep. Only His sheep may have life more abundantly. Only those who know His voice. Only those whom Christ knows and who knows Christ in return.

Also notice the wording regarding the thief - he does NOT come, except to steal, kill, destroy - while Christ says, "I HAVE COME that they may have life more abundantly". This properly outlines the agendas of each - the thief's only goal is for mayhem and destruction. He does not come for any other purpose than to tear down. The Lord's goal, however, is to give life more abundantly, to build up, and pour out blessings. Not only that, He HAS come for that exact reason, meaning, He has come for a specific purpose - to give His sheep abundant life.

These two opposing agendas also outline the motives behind each - those who hate, will kill and destroy. Those who love, shall give life and build up. Christ is showing us that He came for a purpose, to give us life - which saves us from the thief and proves His love for us. He has also given us the proper perspective to view both Him and the thief. Destruction, death, and theft are all of the Devil while blessings and the abundant life are from Christ.

One more thing about this passage - while the enemy certainly does carry out these atrocities in the world today, I believe Yeshua was being a little more abstract with His words. We gain life everlasting from our understanding of the Gospel and our eyes opening to the truth of Scripture. Once we know how to be born again, we can therefore approach the Throne of Grace. When the enemy comes to "steal, kill, and destroy", I believe the Lord subtly meant that Satan will steal our joy, kill our love, and destroy our passion for Christ if we do not guard our hearts.

Be careful, brethren. The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 2:8). Guard your heart with your shield of faith and your breastplate of righteousness! If you are a sheep of the Good Shepherd, do not hang around with the wolves. Seek the abundant life that comes from above; seek what Christ Himself has come to give you!

Do you know Yeshua?
Does He know you?

Monday, June 1, 2015

One Day

One day I'll go to Heaven;
my perfect life begun.
One day I'll look upon the face
of God's eternal Son.

One day I'll stand in awe when
His hands shall frame my face.
One day I'll rule and reign with Him
in that wondrous place.

One day His smile will melt my heart;
my gaze for only Him.
One day His glory shall amaze;
His Light shall never dim.

One day His eyes will sparkle
like the diamonds in the sky.
One day my own reflect Him,
destined no more to cry.

One day I'll be with Jesus;
always by His side.
One day His voice will ring out, 
"My well-beloved Bride!"

© Becka Goings

Friday, May 22, 2015

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

Recently, I've been pondering my impact upon the world and wondering how fruitful it has been. Not for pride or vanity's sake, but for the simple fact that I seem to live two lives. Online, I'm an outspoken Christian, full of vim and vigor, blogging and Facebooking about our glorious King. And yet at home in my personal life, I am more reserved and less in-your-face. Of course, I do sing fairly loud to my Christian music in the kitchen, but that's beside the point.

I took the issue to God and asked Him if I was doing it wrong. Are people confused when they read my fiery posts and then encounter shy little me in real life? Am I genuine in my beliefs?

Many in my life have denounced Christ, so for the most part, I stay quiet in my faith so as to respect their beliefs. I figure if they're interested, they'll ask or read my posts online. I have shared Christ and discussed doctrine with a few of them, but life goes on as it always has - the sun rises, the sun sets, and another day has passed.

I don't often make it to church every Sunday and I don't always give to the needy, but I try my hardest to live with my heart wide open. I teach my children about Christ and they witness first-hand my prayer life and how often I study. I buy many books on theology and sermons, as there's a drive in me to learn and know and share with others. This is likely why I have the outlet of posting online, because I don't have that outlet in my day-to-day.

The Lord has been showing me it is the state of the heart that truly matters to Him. A Christian life is marked with good works, however, to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). How interesting to think we get so sidetracked into believing we must make sacrifices for God to be true Christians, yet our Lord says He cherishes obedience to His commands above our sacrifices. Why is that? Well, anyone can make a sacrifice. Consider the offerings of Cain and Abel. God accepted Abel's offering, but not Cain's. They both made a sacrifice, but it was only Abel who pleased God (Genesis 4:3-8). It is the one who has a heart of love for their God who will obey His commands (John 14:15). And what are Christ's Two Great Commands? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31).

I strive to obey Yeshua's Commands to my greatest ability. I know I often fail. But God sees every little detail of what I do for Him. I am reminded that the beauty the Lord God esteems is a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). These are quite precious to Him, far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10).

It is my hope those around me would say a "quiet and gentle spirit" is who I am. Catch me around dinnertime, however, and it might be a different story! I am well-known for my evening grumblies. When the blood sugar is low, I stomp around the house like Godzilla. In fact, my kids and hubby affectionately call me Momzilla when hunger strikes. But as a rule, I don't like to be contrary. I hate conflicts. If you happen to be over when dinner is ready, grab a plate. If you need a place to sleep, here's a blanket. If you have a boo boo, bring it in for hugs and kisses. Heh, I'm a mom, what can I say? And I believe in the catch-and-release method whenever I find a bug in my kitchen. Why should I kill it when it's just looking for food?

I realized during prayer that what haunted me was the Great Commission. Christ told us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). While I've been busy online, have I neglected my own personal mission field? That's when the Lord opened my eyes. We are to be lights for Christ in the world. As women, we are to teach our children and younger women in the Lord (Titus 2:3-4). If our spouses don't believe, we are to be of good conduct so as to win them without a word (1 Peter 3:1). Is this what I do?

All my children are believers and have a tender love for Jesus. Some may show it more than others, but being children, I wouldn't expect them to be as sold out as I am. It takes time to mature in the faith. Anyone who walks into my house cannot deny that a Christian lives here. My walls are adorned with Christ, Scripture verses are quoted in the planter, and random books on theology are scattered about. I blast my Christian music, either in my kitchen or in my car, and my afore-mentioned singing cannot be missed by anyone within a half mile radius. I never take off my cross necklace, and I even have Christian tattoos.

My real life is anything but hidden under a basket. God has shown me that having a quiet and gentle spirit does not mean one is neglecting the Great Commission, and the point of this post is to bring peace to those who might be in the same boat as I am. Ultimately, my goal is to disciple my children as well as make disciples online. I regularly speak to my older girls about marriage, motherhood, and the Messiah. (Oo, alliteration!) I am annotating my entire Bible in order to leave some wisdom for my son when I pass on. My 6 y/o knows more theology than your average baby Christian, as her penmanship lessons are Bible verses. I do honor the Great Commission in my home. This is where my efforts should be focused.

While my mind might be grieved that I don't do more, give more, or say more, the Lord has spoken to my heart and told me I'm exactly where He wants me to be. I don't live two lives, because my online presence is an overflow of what's already in my heart (John 7:38). My real life is likewise an overflow of my heart, as I train up my children in the way they should go. I do what I do online in order to share what I learn and study with others who are willing to listen. There is no double standard or hypocrisy in my beliefs. I am honoring Titus 2:3-4. Like Mary of Bethany, I am sitting at Yeshua's feet.

And in all honesty, the Lord works through me in the "works He's prepared in advance for me to do" (Ephesians 2:10). And this is what I believe it means to share the yoke of our lives with Yeshua. His yoke is easy and His burden is light because we simply shine -- we tell the world the Good News, and He takes care of the rest!

So be encouraged, my dear sisters in Christ. If you have a quiet and gentle spirit, do not be too hard on yourselves that you're not actively evangelizing or doing great and marvelous things for the Lord. If you have an obedient heart toward God's commands and a thirst for Yeshua Himself, He naturally works out of the overflow of your heart. We scatter the seed. The Holy Spirit waters and cultivates. If you train up your children to follow Christ, if you counsel your younger friends, family, or daughters in the issues of life and marriage from a Godly perspective, you are doing exactly what the Lord has called you to do. Cover everything you do with a blanket of prayer, and trust in the Lord with all your heart.