Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The God of My Dreams - An Essay in Three Parts

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  ~~2 Corinthians 4:6


 "The Good Lord's got a soft spot in His heart for this family."  

I heard those words more than once growing up.  My Dad was fond of saying it.  What's interesting to me is that when he said it, we were struggling financially after his painful divorce.  He never told me how bad off we were, but his words always seemed prophetic when, more than a once, the random two bucks he placed on a KENO game returned a $150 gain.  Despite our lack, the Lord did provide.  Even though my mother left and didn't provide any monetary support, Dad always had a way of looking on the bright side of things.  Thinking back now, he likely did so for my sake. 

Now that I'm grown, I often wonder about our family line.  I wonder, because it really does seem like God has a soft spot for us.  My sister and I came to Christ on very different roads.  Our children all love the Lord.  My life in particular seems almost "sculpted" from the start, and I can see God's hand in a great many things of my youth.  My maiden name is "Goodwin", which I found was the surname of two very prominent Puritans, John & Thomas Goodwin, in 1600's England.  Our family tree can be traced back to Daniel Goodwin, who was born in England in 1620, and later emigrated to America.  He was born in Suffolk, England, and the Puritan Goodwins were born in Norfolk, England, not too far from Suffolk - about 40 miles.  I can only assume the name "Goodwin" wasn't exactly common in those days (it's not common in these days either).  But unless I can find birth records that far back in England, it's only speculation to say Daniel, John, and Thomas Goodwin were related in any way, even though they were contemporaries with the same surname in the same rough area of England.  Perhaps they were distant cousins or maybe the Puritan Goodwins were uncles.

Exciting, all the same, to think that my family might have a Puritan in our line.  I even own one of Thomas' most famous works, "The Heart of Christ".  I often daydream about the Puritan Goodwins, and wonder if they prayed for future generations.  I wonder about my great-grandfather, George K. Goodwin, who was a pastor in Vermont in the late 1800's.  Did he read his own contemporaries, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, and D.L. Moody?  Did he pray for future generations?

I do know God blesses those who seek Him individually.  Even if I am vaguely related to the Puritan Goodwins, that doesn't help me in my own salvation or knowledge of God.  I need to accept God for myself.  I need to seek Him for myself.  No one's testimony can lend any weight to my own, even if I was related to the Apostle Paul himself.  

My father's branch of Goodwins ends with him.  He has no sons and my sister and I both married.  After pondering all of this, I have come to the conclusion that for reasons of His own, God is dealing abundantly with me.  Perhaps it's because as the youngest of the two Goodwin sisters, I am the last "fruit" of this branch of the Goodwin line.  Or perhaps it's because He blesses me for seeking Him.  Or's due to His good pleasure.

With that said, now the point of it all: I have amazingly lucid dreams.  Dreams so real that like the Apostle Paul, I sometimes have no idea whether I'm in the body or in the spirit.  This is not to say they are prophetic - I do not believe I am a prophet by any definition of the word.  I do not believe God reveals any more revelation to any one person as He did through Isaiah or Daniel.  The final prophet was Jesus Christ (Hebrews1:1-2).  The dreams I have seem more... for me.  For my own peace of mind and my own edification.  These dreams cannot be asked for, they seem to fall whenever the Lord wills.  I have already told you about my demonic dreams and spiritual warfare.  But I have never told you about my godly dreams.

The one I'm about to share is the most thrilling dream of my life.  I don't know how any other dream can top it.  I don't even know why the Lord allowed me to have it, other than the goodness and mercy of His everlasting grace.  I've kept this dream close to my heart for so long, that it seems as if I'm sharing a glimpse into the most intimate part of me.  All I ask is that you please do not scoff, and know this was a dream, nothing more.  Any speculation is my own.

In this dream, I saw the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.


November, 2013

I have no idea what specific day it was, only that it was late November when I had my dream.  We were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, and had company visiting for the holiday.  It seems odd to me that the Lord gave me this dream during these days, considering how the busyness of the holidays keeps me from prayer and study much of the time.  Planning, preparation, and visitation with friends and family make it nearly impossible to slip away on my own, and I often feel parched and lean in my soul.

In other words, I had the most amazing dream of Jesus on a day when I barely thought of Christ at all.  Perhaps that was by design.  Like any other night before, I laid down and went to sleep.

The dream began in a dry, dusty atmosphere, hot and sticky.  It was about midday and the heat was palpable.  There was commotion all around me, and I didn't know what it was at first.  But like the lens of a camera, everything came into focus.  And like you do in dreams, I simply knew where I was.  Judea.  The time of Christ.  The commotion was a huge crowd, and they were pressing in to see Jesus.

Then I realized I wasn't walking.  I was being carried, and lovingly so, like a groom carries His bride.  There were no biting fingers digging into my side, and no struggle to hold my weight.  The One holding me was expending no effort.  I knew in a heartbeat Jesus carried me.

His right hand was under my shoulders and his left cradled my knees.  He didn't look at me, but He gazed straight ahead, as if He had a destination set in His mind.  He was in no rush, but strode down the dusty street with purpose.  The crowds parted for Him, like I imagine the Red Sea had parted for Moses.  They surrounded us and closed in behind Jesus as He passed.  But while they jostled each other, no one in the crowd jostled Christ, and therefore I was not jostled.

As I lay prone in Jesus' arms, I took a good, long look at His profile.  His face was tanned.  Dirty.  Sweaty.  I couldn't get a good look at His eyes because He wasn't looking at me, but they were squinting in the bright sun.  I saw His beard; it was dark, but unremarkable.  Not short-cropped, but not long either.  I don't remember much about His hair.  It might have been under a shawl.  I remember thinking He wasn't strikingly handsome, nor was He ugly.  He was...normal.  Like any other face in the crowd.  

What I found myself staring at, rather, transfixed by, was a small, but prominent, dark freckle on His right cheek.  It was high up on His cheek bone, about halfway between His cheek and His hairline.  I marveled at it.  "The Lord has a freckle!" I shouted in my thoughts.  I couldn't believe it.  For whatever reason, like a dream sometimes does, my entire field of vision and concentration centered around that freckle.  Even in my dream, I knew the Lord was sharing a part of Himself with me that isn't common knowledge and it blew me away.

Without another thought, I hooked my hands behind Jesus' neck and leaned up in His arms.  I don't know why, it was spontaneous and shocked even me.  Perhaps I wished to show Him my appreciation for what He'd shared with me.  Ever-so-gently, I gave Him a soft, lingering kiss on His freckle.  


The dream changed.  No longer was it hot, oppressive day, now it was cool, dark night.  While the scene was drastically different, I knew it was the same dream.  Only this time, I wasn't in Judea, I space...on a ladder looking down upon the earth.  The sun was to my back, and what I could see of the planet was in the shadow of night.  The ladder itself was somehow grounded on the land far, far below, yet it was leaning against white, puffy clouds that couldn't possibly be part of earth's atmosphere.  It was the kind of ladder you lean against a house rather than an A frame.  I was standing on the second to last rung at the very top.

The ladder was wobbly.  I don't know if it was due to the rotation of the earth or my own minute movements, but I was scared of falling.  My awareness kicked in, and I realized I was hugging Jesus this time rather than being carried by Him.  My arms were around His waist and my head was on His chest.  I was scared that if I let go of Him, I would surely fall.

Then, for the first time, I heard His voice.  


It was kind.  It was soft.  It was loving.  It was a command.

I didn't want to look at Him - not because I didn't WANT to see Him, but because the ladder wobbled too much.  I was too afraid of falling.  But I couldn't disobey.  I didn't want to disobey.  So overcoming my fear, I looked up.  And the moment I did, I forgot about the ladder.  I looked full into the face of Jesus Christ Himself.

Many things went through my mind in that moment.  I stared at first, as if trying to get my eyes to focus.  My thoughts were cloudy and confusion set in.  My spirit told me this was Christ!  But my eyes couldn't believe it.  I had seen Him on that dusty road.  He was dirty.  Sweaty.  And yet the Christ before me was porcelain.  Perfect.  His clothing was not coarse and threadbare, but gleaming white - so white I could see no shadows in the way the fabric draped and folded around itself.  The clouds surrounding Him emanated light, as if specks of silver floated within.  How could this be the same man I had seen on the dusty road?

And then, just as before, the dream honed in on one physical feature - the freckle high up on His right cheek.  I knew in a heartbeat this was the Lord.  "It is You!" I mentally cried.  My thoughts raced as I took it all in.  It was overwhelming to see Him like this, but I never thought to look away.  He smiled at me, as if pleased I knew Him and recognized Him.  His smile hit my heart like a freight train, and if I had been awake, I would have surely swooned.  After my revelation, I marveled at many things about Him.

He was so young!  Impossibly young, younger than any of the movies portrayed Him to be.  He seemed to be full of youth - not a child, obviously a man, but I couldn't reconcile the Ancient of Days with such a youthful gleam - it seemed a contradiction, and therefore I continued to stare.  His hair and beard were black and wavy, yet again, much shorter than movies portray.  His hair was no longer than His ears or the nape of His neck, not down over His shoulders.  Again, my perception of what I imagined He looked like was caught up in what I was seeing.  He looked nothing like I'd always thought!

Despite being unremarkable on earth while carrying me, here in this second half of my dream, He was absolutely glorious - the Chiefest among ten thousand - the most handsome and desirable man I'd ever laid my eyes on.  And yet, He had the same face.  But His face was different.  Yet it was the same.  It's hard to describe and maybe that's why the disciples had a hard time recognizing Him after His resurrection.  He was breathtaking.  The more I stared, however, the farther He seemed to become.  Even though I still held Him by His waist, it seemed as if He was getting farther away.

I knew His magnified beauty only shed the light on my repugnant sin.  The longer I stared, the more I became aware of the weight of His holiness.  I could feel the gulf between us, yet I still held fast to Him.

The one thing I'll never forget about Christ are His eyes.  I have no idea what their color was on earth, probably brown being that He was a Jew, but in Glory, it was as if His eyes could not decide whether they wanted to be blue or green.  The colors swirled together like sunlight on water.  Green-blue-greenblue-green-bluegreen-blue.  Perhaps that's why I stared - just to watch the wonder of His eyes, so young yet so old, gazing back at me with love and tenderness.  

I have no idea how long I stared at Yeshua.  He was obviously in His glorified state, but likely holding back most of His glory so I could look at Him.  He appeared as He might have to the eleven after His resurrection rather than to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos.  He didn't say another word, He simply smiled and allowed me to hold Him.  The moment I gazed upon Him, the scene of the ladder and of the earth seemed to slip away into nothingness.  It no longer existed.  It was as if He and I were all that existed in the universe.  There was no more threat of falling.  I felt rock-solid.

I have thought of this dream often in the year since I had it.  There seems to be many symbolic things happening at once.  The day, the night, Him carrying me, me holding Him, in the world, out of the world, in the flesh, and glorified.  I have wondered why the Lord gave me this dream unless He merely wanted to show me His face.  Obviously there is no way of knowing if Jesus actually has a freckle on His right cheek.  Maybe He does; maybe He doesn't.  But the dream used the familiarity of the freckle for me to recognize Him the second time I saw Him in the clouds.  Without that grounding, I might have continued to be confused about who He truly was.

His youth and His hair and His eyes have captivated me ever since.  I know He was only 33 in life when He was crucified.  But His perfection erased any wrinkles or pores or crow's feet He may have gained in the flesh, adding to the look of His youth.  It was as if He had perfect baby skin.  I have never thought of Jesus with black hair, usually because most movies and paintings have chosen European-looking brown-haired men.  And the length of it surprised me - I had always assumed it was longer.  It would seem the Gospel According to Matthew got it right:

I know in life, Christ's eyes were probably not blue or green.  But what fascinates me are accounts of others who've claimed to have seen Jesus, who testify of the same - such as child painter prodigy Akiane Kramarik and Colton Burpo's account in "Heaven is for Real".  I hadn't been influenced by these children before my dream, however, as I didn't have much interest into the color of the Lord's eyes until AFTER my dream.  I remember watching Burpo's movie randomly and getting chills when Colton described Christ's eyes.  Some people find these testimonies to be controversial.  I can't say whether or not either of these children have truly seen Jesus.  Like myself, I can only acknowledge that whatever they saw, it's between them and God.

I suppose I'll never truly know until I pass into Glory myself.  But until then, I can cherish this dream in my heart, even if my subconscious made it all up.  Whether it was only a dream or the reality of Christ, I have been blessed by what I saw, and the memory of it only serves to make me long for Heaven all the more.

In the words of Job, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You." Job 42:5 

Praise the Lord.  Thank You, Jesus.  Whether real or a dream, I know You are Sovereign, and therefore it was Your will for me to experience it.  I pray this blesses others and inspires them to live for You.  

In Jesus' name,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If She be a Wall... If She be a Door - What Does it Mean?

In recent months, I have been entirely too busy to update my blog considering three consecutive holidays in as many months.  It's been crazy!  But I'm taking a break from Christmas planning to offer a new study on the doors and walls of Scripture.

What verses am I referring to?  The passage in Song of Solomon 8:8-9 which says:

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

Now, believe it or not, this study began in the book of Ezekiel.  I was reading the final chapters, and realized the temple described is very similar to the one described in Revelation.  The passage from Ezekiel 48:31-34 reads:

And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi.
And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan.
And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun.
At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali.

I wanted to cross-reference it with the verses in Revelation that describe the Heavenly temple.  My first thought was that this is a wonderful way to show the continuity between what's written in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It's a second witness, if you will, in the Scriptures.  The cross-reference is in Revelation 21:12-14:

And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And just like that, folks, I'm not even kidding, I heard a whisper in my spirit, "If she be a wall... if she be a door..."  I wasn't even thinking of Song of Solomon at ALL - I'm convinced it was the Spirit of God breathing on His Word to help me understand the mystery.  I've wondered about the wall/door reference in Songs for a LONG time.

Notice - it is the Jewish tribes who are written on the doors.  Notice it is the names of the Apostles on the foundations of the wall.  Could the interpretation of this little passage in Songs be so easy to understand?

Let's look at Songs 8:8-9 again:

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

The "little sister" with no breasts assumes immaturity, or a young maiden who hasn't yet been spoken for by the Beloved.   We know she will be of the family of God, however, due to the familiarity of being the Spouse's little sister.  She might not be the Beloved's now, but she will be one day.  The rest of the verse assumes this - "What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?"

Then it goes on - "If she be a wall..."  Could this mean one who sits under the teachings of the Apostles?  "If she be a door..." Could she be a Messianic Jew?

Notice the wall gets a palace of silver.  The door gets boards of cedar.  I do not believe this is necessarily an imbalance for the wall verses the door.  Remember, the cedars of Lebanon were choice wood.  Very expensive, very fragrant.  Likely these trees were part of the "fragrance of Lebanon" found in Songs 4:11.  Could the silver allude to the Bride's heavenly inheritance?  Could the cedar allude to the Jews' earthly inheritance?

The Kingdom of God for Christians is a spiritual kingdom.  It's a way of life, a way of bringing God to the people, and often, it's referred to as Heaven itself.  The Kingdom for Jews, however, is the Messianic Kingdom, the thousand years of peace after the Tribulation, when the root of David (Yeshua) shall sit upon the Throne of Jerusalem for a millenia after His Second Coming.

This study, while not overly long, came out of nowhere and prompted me to write a blog about it.  I thought it was rather "deep", and I'm not even sure this is the true interpretation.  So pray about it and be a Berean - research it for yourself.  One of the rules of hermeneutics is that Scripture interprets Scripture.  Perhaps this little nugget tucked into the Song of Solomon is indeed meant by the Holy Spirit to be interpreted by the passage in Revelation.

I just love Bible study.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The King is Enthralled by Your Beauty, Part II

When I wrote my last blog, I didn't foresee there would be a second.  I was content in my "revelation" of God's love.  I didn't think there was much more I could add.  And like I do when I finish one blog, I often wonder what my next one will be.  Usually, I wait to blog until I feel compelled to do so by the Spirit.

You can understand my surprise when, during last night's Bible reading, I had another insight into why God loves us so vehemently.  I am currently studying the book of Ezekiel.  I'm a little over halfway through it.  Ezekiel and Jeremiah were contemporaries.  God gave them both to Israel to be His prophets, warning them that they were about to be conquered by the Babylonians as God's judgment against their wicked ways.

Israel's heart had grown "adulterous" as they leaned toward other gods, and they now trusted their idols more than they trusted Yahweh.  In one rather disturbing passage, the Lord God declares in Ezekiel 23:36-39:

The Lord said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house.

God tells Ezekiel who "Oholah" and "Oholibah" are in verse 4: "Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem."

I believe God relates Samaria and Jerusalem to women because the sins they commit are more heinous that way.  The charge of adultery goes much deeper into their hearts in light of God's analogy of unfaithful women.  When seen in this light, they can no longer claim they are blind to their own sin.  But that's beside the point.  Look at what they're doing in the passage above.

They're literally worshipping idols and sacrificing their children to them.  And on the same day they come into the Lord's sanctuary profaning His holy Sabbaths.  This is a seriously shocking sin!  God Himself tells us why He sends the Jews into exile into Babylon in Ezekiel 23:46-49:

For thus says the Lord God: “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them an object of terror and a plunder. And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord God.”

In order for God to turn Israel back to Himself, He had to break their hearts.  He had to smash their idols into bits, proving they had no power to protect, preserve, or provide.  He had to make known to their hardened hearts there is no God but Yahweh, that He alone holds the power.  To get through their blindness, God had to rip them from their land - the very land He promised to Abraham - to finally open their eyes to their profanity.  God delivered them from Egypt.  God brought them into the Promised Land.  How can it be they are being evicted by the Babylonians?  How can it be anything other than God's punishment for their deeds?

Often, God must break our hearts to get through our pride.  He must bring us low before we'll look up.  There are more people seeking Him at a funeral than a party.  It's just they way the sinful heart works.  When things are going well, we don't need God.  That is, until things aren't going well.  We are such a fickle people.

(Bear with me through this study, I will get to the point eventually.)

Thankfully, the exile of the Jews only lasted 70 years, and their hearts were indeed restored to Yahweh in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  God even allowed them to build a second temple, which is the one Zerubbabel built, an ancestor of Yeshua of Nazareth. 

After studying all that shocking sin by God's chosen people, I had a deep depression come over me.  I almost wanted to weep with the prophet regarding those child sacrifices.  Was the blood even dry on their garments before they had the audacity to come into the house of God on the very same day they killed their babies?  And people nowadays actually question the character of God for chastening His people in the Old Testament, painting Him to be bloodthirsty and cruel...?  No, His people had hard hearts and a thirst for idolatry.  In order to keep His worship pure and His name holy, He had to time and again smash the idols of the land to prove that only Yahweh reigns On High.

The Hebrews of old were a stubborn people of stony hearts.

It has always interested me that God relates idolatry to adultery and harlotry throughout Scripture.  He uses such harsh language to show us how detestable it is to Him when we worship anything other than the true Creator of all things.  This is such a deep subject that I could go on and on, but I won't.

When I had finished these passages in Ezekiel, I randomly flipped through my Bible just reading here and there, and ended up on the woman in Proverbs 31.  I've studied her before, but with the backdrop of Ezekiel in my head, I read these verses with a new outlook.  One shining jewel caught my eye:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. ~Proverbs 31:10

And that's when it hit me.  Those who love God are not harlots--they are virtuous.  Those who love God do not commit adultery--they are faithful.  Those who love God are very rare, and He views their worth far above rubies.  I literally teared up.  This is one of those moments when the Spirit opened the Scriptures for me in such a way that I understood what it means to be cherished by God.

Why is He so enthralled by your beauty?  Because He is your One True Love.  Why does one glance from your eye take His breath away?  Because He is the Lover of your soul.  God cherishes those who cherish Him.  It's so simple, a child could understand it.  After millennia of pleading with His people to worship and adore Him, when God finds that one heart after His own heart, He will protect it vehemently, love it unconditionally, and restore it magnificently.

Psalm 145:20 says, "The Lord preserveth all them that love him".

Wow, what a promise.  Our hearts and our love for Him shall be preserved.  He will not let our love die.  Even if we stray, like the Jews of old, He cares too much to leave us in our idolatry.  He will draw us back to Him, no matter what it takes.  

As I close this second study, I want you to really think about the question posed in Proverbs 31:10.  In this world of selfish gain, of abounding idols, and rebellion against God, indeed, who can find a virtuous woman?  Who can find the one who loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength?  This goes far beyond "women" only, as this metaphor isn't limited to gender.  We, as the Body of Christ, are the Bride of Christ, and no one got that analogy better than the Apostles (who were themselves all men).

In Psalm 45:10, it states:
Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father's house,
Notice she hears of Him, she considers Him, she inclines her ear and learns of Him.  Notice she leaves her people and her own father's house for Him (which is reminiscent of Luke 14:26).  In God, she has found all she needs.  In Him, she is complete.  She runs away with Him, without looking back.  Her eyes are upon Him, her heart is turned Godward.  He is her family now.

Finally, we close with the very next verse, Psalm 45:11:
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
Her beauty reflects Him as stated in the previous study, but it also lies in her singular eye toward the King of Glory.  God Almighty desires a virtuous woman.  One who doesn't stray.  One who will honor Him as her LORD.  One who is willing to leave everything behind to adore Him.  He's been crying out for her through the ages, even before time began in the cool of a Garden.  And when He finds her, He esteems her far above rubies.  Why?  Because she is even more rare than they.  A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

She is more valuable to Him than all the stars in the sky.  For while they shine His glory throughout the heavens, they shall each eventually die.  Only the heart of God's virtuous woman can shine with the flame of an eternal love (Songs 8:6).  When put in that light, our bright, vibrant love for the Lord Jesus Christ is the rarest, and most valuable of all His possessions. 

He cherishes us, brethren, likely more than we'll ever know this side of Heaven.  What an amazing eternity we have waiting for us - where locust does not eat and rust does not fade.  Where the arms of Yeshua are open wide, and we will lose ourselves gazing into His tender, loving eyes...forever.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The King is Enthralled by Your Beauty

How is it that God Almighty is enthralled by my beauty?  Don't we all ask that question?  I'm not beautiful.  If He really knew all about me...  Wait, He does know all about me... He saw that thing I did.  He knows my thoughts.  ACK! 

Intellectually, we all know Christ has given us His righteousness.  We now stand justified before God (Romans 8:33, 2 Corinthians 5:21).  However, until we're glorified, we remain sinners.  The Apostle Paul likened our sin nature to a "body of death" (Romans 7:24), and that while our outward man is wasting away, our inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).  The great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, has this to say on the subject:
Every man of God is two men in one.  That new part of him, which is born of God, that new nature which was implanted in regeneration, cannot sin because it is born of God.  It is the incorruptible seed, which lives and abides forever; but, as far as the man is still in the flesh, it is true that "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be."  The old nature sins through the force of nature; but the new nature sins not, because it is born of God."
It is interesting this life that we live is two natures in one - a life of flesh and a life of Spirit.  Even though we are still in this flesh, we walk by the Spirit.  It is a daily battle of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus.  The Spirit of God certainly helps us by bestowing mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16) so that we can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). 

While our righteousness in Christ makes us justified before God, I have always struggled with why God sees me as altogether lovely if I am still sinful.  True, He sees Jesus when He looks at me.  The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).  I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

What didn't make sense to me is that Christ wouldn't be looking at me, He would be looking at Himself.  So how can I be found beautiful by the Lord if He's just looking at His own accomplishments and righteousness?

But then God clarified His own position on His love for me one day during my prayer time.  I got a sudden understanding of what it means to be loved by God Himself in such a mighty and awesome way.  Yes, God sees Himself in me; our bodies are the temple of God after all (1 Corinthians 3:16), but it's like sunshine through stained glass windows.  Each window is different, from glory to glory, yet it is the same sunshine pouring forth, making each window a breath-taking work of art.  I'm sure you may have heard this analogy before.

Yet the love of God goes even deeper than comparing us to colored panes of glass.  It is not a bad thing that God sees Himself when He is enthralled by our beauty.  Scripture says we are adopted into God's family, that we are now called sons of God (Romans 8:15, 1 John 3:1-2).  Have you ever heard sermons where the pastor talks about the Godhead, and how each member (Father/Son/Spirit) were perfectly loving each other in relationship?  That God didn't need to make us, because He was complete in Himself.  He wanted to create us.

If God loves perfectly within the Godhead, therefore, He loves us by the very same standard, as we have the Spirit of God living within us and we were bought by the cross of Christ.  He cannot deny Himself.  We recognize that God sees Christ when He sees us, but we don't often internalize that God also loves us AS HE LOVES CHRIST. 

Think about this for a moment.  When God made a covenant with Abraham, He swore by Himself, as there is no greater name to swear by (Genesis 22:16-17).  There is no greater Love.  There is no greater Joy.  There is no greater Peace than God Himself.  Therefore, even God enjoys Himself.  The Father delights in the Son.  The Son delights in the Spirit, and the Spirit precedes from both, therefore delighting in both.  And in the same way, the entire Godhead delights in His children through the sacrifice of Christ.

There truly is no greater love than the love God has for Himself.  While this sounds egocentric and vain to the world, if one truly knows that God is meek and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29), then they will know the truth of it. 

While we each live the life of Jesus through our faith in the Son of God, we are each unique, different members of the Body of Christ.  We will never be elevated to God's level of Glory, but we shall one day be glorified, higher than the angels.  Only God Himself will be higher than us in the universe and beyond.  We are now a part of God's family, as high as any created being can possibly go (Ephesians 2:6, Revelation 3:21).  Quite literally, we are united with Christ in God as our Bridegroom. 

The two shall become one flesh.  The Two shall become one Spirit.

This is the measure by which God loves us - He loves us as if we were members of His Godhead.  He is enthralled by our beauty because our Beauty comes from God.  There is no higher beauty.  He loves us because He shines through us, but also, because He painstakingly created the stained glass window that we are.  And while we're sanctified by His Truth here on earth (John 17:17), He is continuing to create us to reflect His image.

Everything in this universe begins and ends with the most glorious Being in existence -- the King of Glory.  And if our glory reflects His Glory, indeed we reflect His Beauty, and in that, we take His breath away.

Praise the Lord!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

You're A Reformer

Does this describe you? Because it sure describes me. No longer satisfied with "playing church", I want to BE the Church! I want to set people on fire, I want to wake people up and compel them to love the Lord. I want to soar on wings like eagles, I want the Word of Christ to dwell in me richly.

Not to us, but to Your name, be the Glory. \O/

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why am I Me?

When I was a little girl, I used to stare at my hand and ask myself, "Why am I me?"  A little profound for a little girl, but I wanted to know.  Why wasn't I someone else?  Why these parents; why this life?

The answer?

Because God willed it so (1 Corinthians 12:18).

God wanted me for His purpose, for such a time as this.  It pleased Him to give me certain gifts, to look a certain way, to have my personality. 

It was all for Him.

It humbles me that He willed me to exist.  It never ceases to amaze me that I breathe His air, eat His harvest, and live His life (Galatians 2:20) - simply because His will is for my heart to continue beating that I may advance the Kingdom of God.

Who am I that God thinks such thoughts of me?  That He planned all this for me?  That He wants me to be a part of His Grand Design?  Doesn't He know I'm forgetful?  Unfaithful?  Isn't He aware that I have a mean temper?  Cant He see my selfish streak or that I let people down -- all the time?

Doesn't He know I'm broken with sin? (Romans 3:10)

Of course He knows.

He came into the world to take my sin, to clothe me with Himself and give me His eternal Life (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Again, who am I?  Not even a mote of dust before His eyes and yet He condescends to love me with a fervent, passionate, everlasting love. (Songs 8:6)

"Why am I me?"

To be the object of His Love so that He will ever be the Object of mine.
(1 John 4:19)

Forever and always, Yeshua, You have my heart.  I love You. 

Praise the Lord.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are You a Disciple of Jesus Christ?

I've had something on my mind for quite awhile.  What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?  Most folks believe a disciple is anyone who has faith in the Lord Jesus.  I think in a broad sense, they're right.  However not every "disciple" is being "discipled".

I think there's a huge gap between calling yourself a disciple and actually being discipled.  A "disciple" is what you are - a noun that implies you're sitting under the lordship of a Master.  "Being discipled", on the other hand, is a verb, an action, a daily pursuit to learn from that Master.

To give an example, it's safe to say every child in a classroom is a student.  But not every child studies.  You might have the slacker, the class clown, or the one who's always asleep in the same class as the child who actively seeks to excel.

There are so many people in this world who profess Christ and claim to be disciples.  Perhaps they are true believers, only God can read their hearts.  However, it's not too hard to discern they aren't making an effort to disciple themselves by the Word of God.  Famous singers and actors profess Christ, yet their music is laced with profanity and their movies are morally ambiguous.

I realize there's a disconnect between real life and fiction.  I used to write fiction, after all.  But I cannot for the life of me picture the Apostle Paul writing erotica, singing songs with foul or suggestive language, or acting in questionable movies.  If the Lord Jesus Christ Himself wouldn't do these things, then why do His followers?  It might boost one's career, but it does nothing for one's relationship with Christ, and in fact, these types of behaviors actually harm that relationship.

I'm not just talking about famous people, but everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus.  As disciples of Christ, we represent Him here on earth.  Scripture calls us ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  That means our citizenship is in another world and we're representing our homeland here on earth -- the Kingdom of God.

If you were an ambassador for the United States, how would you act to represent this country?  It is no different as an ambassador for Christ.  We are His Body here on earth.  If someone knows you're a believer, yet witnesses your half-hearted commitment to our Lord, what does that say about you, about your salvation, and about your love for Jesus?

God made it clear through Christ's Two Great Commandments what true discipleship looks like.  We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  This isn't some passing fancy.  This isn't lip-service.  We don't love God in the same way we might "love" our roommate.  Think about the measure of devotion one must have to love another with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Think about how difficult it is to be selfless rather than selfish.  But that's what God calls us to do.  He wants us to love Him with every last atom of our existence and pour ourselves out for others.

That means all affection, adoration, and devotion belong to God.  Heart.
All your prayers, worship, and eternity belong to God.  Soul.
All your thoughts, studies, and entertainment belong to God.  Mind.
All your willpower, all your perseverance, and all your ability to follow belong to God.  Strength.

All of these are accomplished when we earnestly seek God.  He promises over and over that if we seek Him, He will be found (Deuteronomy 4:29, Matthew 7:7).  No one can do this on their own.  We need to pray for God's help to love Him in this way, as we cannot make ourselves do something that is foreign to us.  Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we're bound to fail.

For myself, I asked God to help me love Him like the Apostles.  It was a genuine prayer, from my heart, and God granted it because it is His will for every child of God to know Him as the Twelve knew Him.  In fact, you can be sure any genuine prayer you pray to better yourself for the Kingdom of God will be heard and answered.  The Apostle John told us if we pray according to the will of God, we have what we've asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).

We might not know God's will for our lives in the day-to-day, but I'm confident in this, that God's will for each of His children is to know Him.  If we point our prayers in that direction, for God to reveal Himself to us, to give us a love for His Word, to fan the flames of our hearts, to learn more about Jesus, to do good works for His Kingdom, to love others, to be a light for Him, to equip us with knowledge and wisdom in Him, then He will honor these prayers and by His will, the Holy Spirit shall begin discipling you.

Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is not easy.  Likely that's why many don't disciple themselves.  I used to write erotic romance.  When I decided to disciple myself, I retired.  And it was a joy to do so.  Remember, I had prayed for God to help me in this.  When I laid down my writing for Jesus, I knew I was doing so for His glory, and not my own.  I no longer wanted my mind to be filled with such thoughts.  I no longer wanted to be an accomplice of filling the minds of my readers with such thoughts.

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about food that's been offered to idols and whether or not it should be eaten.  My issue wasn't with food, but the concept was sound -- don't live so as to make your weaker brother or sister stumble.  I saw the vanity in what I was doing, that the Kingdom wasn't advancing through me, that Christ wasn't glorified through me, that others couldn't see Him in me.

As a Christian, I quite literally disgusted myself.

But the Lord takes what the enemy means for evil and works it for good.  I'm still a writer, but now I write for God.  And pretty much everyone who knew me before knows what I do now.  If I had retired quietly, God wouldn't have been given the glory.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Christians need to be discipled.  We have it in our heads that we need to do it in groups, have a mentor, or have an older Christian to guide us.  While those are wonderful resources to have, I have learned the Holy Spirit is quite capable of discipling a child of God all on His own (1 John 2:27).  Everything you read on my blog I've learned under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.  I retired from writing romance in 2011 and these past few years have rushed by like a hurricane - God has restored the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25) and used me to reach you.

Everything I do on my blog, I do out of love for my brethren in Christ.  I truly feel as if the Lord is moving through the candlesticks of His Church and fanning the flames in the hearts of every true believer.  I have an intense desire to urge His Bride to wake up, stand up, and look up for their Bridegroom and know Him as I do.  I meet a lot of disciples of Christ.  But it is rare to find those who are actively being discipled.

If you are a Christian, you must grow in the Lord.  Don't be content to be a withered little sproutling in a dark corner of the Lord's garden.  Endeavor to become a mighty oak, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither (Psalm 1:3).  Ask God to make you a Christian who abides in Vine, one who has the Word of Christ dwelling in them richly.  Ask the Lord to make rivers of Living Water flow from your heart.  Ask God to mold you and shape you into a mature Christian who actively seeks Him in both prayer and study.  

If you do this, then Christ can and will use you mightily for the Kingdom of God.  And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.