Posted in Bible Study, Devotion

A metaphor too cool to keep in

This is too good of a metaphor not to share even though I should be going to bed.

“and he made from one man every nation of all mankind to live on all the the face of the Earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yes he is actually not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:24-27
I’ve heard the first part of this verse quoted by my Alma mater many times since it’s their motto, but maybe I’ve never read it in context. Some cool truths popped out at me tonight. God made the Earth with the intention of separating us into time periods and nations. The tower of Babel wasn’t God trying to discipline; it was part of the plan. That’s not even the metaphor I’m most excited to share. 

God separated the people so that we could seek him and feel our way to him. Feel for him? Seeking is usually done with the eyes. I seek for a friend in a crowd by looking, not feeling with my hands, but someone who can’t see with their eyes needs to feel. Therefore, God is saying here that we are blind. How are we blind? Both Paul and John refer to us being blinded by sin in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and John 12:39-40. Before knowing Christ, we can’t see. Only through Christ are the blinders removed.

It just gets cooler though. Here we are, before believing, grasping at anything around us hoping it’s what we desire, even if we don’t know what we desire. We’re blind and can’t see past our own sin, but God is still right there! Verse 27 says he’s not far. He’s there waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself and remove the blinders, but in the meantime he’s still close by. He was there letting us feel his presence and protecting us before we even knew who he was. 

That’s some pretty cool stuff. Do you interpret this passage the same way, or do you see something different?

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Posted in Book Review

The Hiding Place

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” 

Corrie ten Boom lived a life devoted to God in spite of her rough and often life-threatening situations. In her book, The Hiding Place, she tells the story of opening her home to Jews needing a place to hide. After being caught and arrested, she describes the horrors of jail then prison then prison camp. At times the prison camp closely resembled the concentration camps. Through all of the insecurity, pain, and misery, her faith in God rings loud and clear. Just as she said, she allowed God to work in her life, and he prepared her for every step, even at times protecting her supernaturally.

“There are no ifs in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety.”

Her story left me speechless in ways. She continually trusted that God would provide despite all around her signs of failure. She did his work until she died. I’m not currently in a place where I am in pain or in need of anything, but I still want to be in God’s will. It’s only there that I can work and rest in peace.

“But even kalte kost (bread ration alone) would be a small price to pay… for the precious books I clutched between my hands.”

Finally, Ms. ten Boom’s devotion to God is the most admirable thing about her. In this instance, she’s risking losing food in order to keep her copy of the Bible. Later she risks losing her life to smuggle a Bible into the prison camp. It makes me ponder how I would react if I was told I couldn’t own a Bible anymore. 

I’d highly recommend everyone to read this story.

story.

Posted in Bible Study, Blogging for Books, Book Review

God Loves

I don’t have much, if any, experience in the romantic love department, so I’ve often just skimmed over Song of Songs as I’ve read the Bible. Dee Brestin’s He Calls You  Beautiful helped bring out the metaphor of the book. It’s not just a physical romance between a man and a woman; it’s the image of us as the dark-skinned scorned woman being wooed and falling in love with our King, God. Here are some truths I derived from reading this book.

  • God desires to have a relationship with each of us in spite of our sin.
  • Our eyes are to be like dove’s eyes: focused forward, avoiding distraction.
  • Just like in a marriage, God asks us to love him in sickness and in health. God never gets sick, but it may feel at times as if he’s not present or a little crazy. We still love him.
  • Just like the groom leaves the bride after she refuses to leave her mother and marry him, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our sins. Just like the groom though, God comes back to call us to him again.
  • In the bigger context, the bride in Solomon’s story represents the day when Jesus’ followers will be reunited. In her name you can literally find peace and in many instances she represents the new Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to get a better understanding of this metaphor.
  • At times my faith may become lukewarm, but just like the lover in the poem, God will stand at the door of my heart and knock until I open back up to him. Similarly he also leaves us with his word just as the groom left myrrh in the door to remind us of his love and push us to run back to him.

Though my earthly heart longs for marriage so much that it hurts at times, I am thankful that this book reminded me of my position as a bride of Christ. He has wooed me, chosen me, and continues to express his love for me. Someday we’ll be joined together for eternity in heaven, and it will be more sweet than any earthly marriage. For now I’ll keep preparing myself to meet my King, and maybe an earthly husband will be in God’s will as well.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor floods drown it. (Song 8:7)

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

Posted in Education, Life

Kicking the Crazy

School has started, and the crazy has kicked in. Last week felt easy, but this week, between prep-work, actual teaching, sponsor duties, club duties, bookkeeping, and grad school classes, I feel like school is officially back in session. Oh wait, it’s only Monday.

Now more than ever I want to remember to do two things: breathe and trust God. If I can continue to do those two things, maybe I can keep my sanity among all of the items on my to-do list. Speaking of to-do lists, those two items are actually at the top.

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In an effort to actually breathe and trust God, I have tried to implement a few new/re-visited routines that will hopefully keep me focused and sane.

  1. Evening walks. Back in college, my roommate and I took walks together almost every night because it helped both of us de-stress from the day. While taking walks together isn’t feasible anymore and I can’t go right before bed like we used to (crazy skunks and other critters), I am trying to get some sort of walk in during the cooler evenings. As a bonus, I have gotten to see God’s masterpieces a few times this week.

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2. Morning Bible time. This summer my Bible reading slacked to an embarrassing place. With the start of school came a chance for a new routine. I usually read in the morning, but I have shifted a few of my other usual morning tasks around in order to make Bible reading a priority instead of a “if I have time” task.

3. Time with friends. I am trying to be intentional about contacting and seeing friends in a non-school kind of way. That’s a difficult one because I can very easily get caught up in work every evening. Also it’s difficult because of the much needed item number four.

4. Me time. Sometimes I need to say no to others in order to spend some time for just me. This may mean missing out on fun events or not going to every sports event at school, but as an introvert I am realizing more each year that I need time alone to relax and do whatever strikes my fancy.

Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to these plans as well as adjust to other new ideas in order to keep my sanity and joy this school year.

Posted in Bible Study

mountains

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I lift my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

Your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Posted in Bible Study

Blame, Pain, and Redemption

Matthew 27:15-20 NLT

15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.[a] 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.

In the story of Barrabas and Jesus on trial, fingers could be pointed several directions as to why Jesus, an innocent man, was sent to the cross while a murderer is set free.

1. Pilate: He could have ignored the custom of releasing a criminal according to crowd choice and made his own choice. He knew the leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy (v. 18). To top it off, his wife told Pilate of a dream she ad and pleaded to release Jesus. Still Pilate washed his hands clean and released Barrabas. No matter how many times Pilate washed his hands, the spots of guilt would remain (until he took his sins to God, which I hope he did).

2. The elders: They convinced the crowd to ask for Jesus (v. 20). These men should have noble and pursuing God’s justice and mercy instead of convincing the crowd to follow their corrupted lead.

3. The crowd: Yes, the elders put bugs in their ears, but the crowds were still sentient beings. It isn’t fair to say the crowd had to follow the elder’s advice. The members of this crowd still share some of the blame for the course of events on this day.

Blame could be placed on any of these people, but placing blame does not change the fact that an innocent man was placed on the cross. All of these people will answer for their faults when they reach heaven. Thankfully for us, God takes the sins of humans and makes a beautiful story. Through the faults of all of these people, God’s plan of salvation moved one step farther. An innocent man was killed and a sinful man was set free. Read that last sentence again and think about your own salvation. From a young age we were all guilty of sin, yet we are still offered the choice to be set free. An innocent man, Jesus, was killed so that you, a sin-filled human, could be set free.

If you’ve already accepted this gift from God, take a few moments now to thank God. Thank him for orchestrating these events. Thank him for giving up his son so that we could all have a relationship with him. Thank God for his gift too wonderful for words. (2 Corinthians 9:15). And then try to put it into words.

If you’re just now seeing yourself as filled with sin, take a moment to think how you will never be able to stand before God as you are. Know right now that Jesus also died for you so that you could be set free from sin. You will be able to stand before God when you die and he’ll welcome you in with a hug. Currently without the grace of God through Jesus’ sacrifice, you will spend life on Earth searching and life after death in Hell. If, though, you choose to accept Christ’s actions and his place as God’s son; and you choose to follow his will, you will have a relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven.

Let me tell you, this choice is the right one. It gives you hope and purpose, and it’s entirely free! Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about this choice. I’d love to talk to you.

Posted in Bible Study

A Time Of Waiting

I know I’ve made several posts about waiting but I think that’s the lesson God keeps trying to teach me. Waiting is difficult that’s for sure.
There was a man in the Bible that sure knew what it meant to wait. Well there are several now that I think on it, but the one that I’m thinking of right now is Noah. I know I’ve read the flood story numerous times and heard it told many more but God always finds something new to reveal.
Noah waited.
A long time.
Noah waited on God while he built the ark. Waiting doesn’t always mean twiddling your thumbs. Noah had a task but he didn’t know how long God would take to send the rain. By the way, Noah probably looked pretty silly to his friends who had forgotten God-waiting for something that had never happened before.
Next, Noah waited on the boat. He was on the boat for over a year, waiting. To top it off, Noah was 600 years old. Jeez! Think about the aches and pains he must have had at that age. Still he waited.
If Noah could wait on that boat for over a year with stinky animals and whiny children just so God could accomplish his plan, I think waiting on God for the short amount of time he makes me wait shouldn’t be so hard. Noah gives waiting a bit more perspective and the hope that God will fulfill his promises.