A royal wedding

I can’t believe I’m blogging at 3:30 AM. This is a first!

I didn’t plan on waking up to watch “The Royal Wedding,” but my heart has been pounding since 2:00 AM, and I haven’t been able to sleep, so I decided to go ahead and watch history in the making!

Last night, when I told Dan that I wanted to DVR the wedding, he replied with “Why? It’s just a stupid wedding!” I got defensive and told him that it’s “romantic” and “beautiful” and that all weddings “symbolize Christ and His Church!” At that point, he challenged me to write a gospel-centered blog post on the royal wedding. Love you, honey…and I accept your challenge.
As I was laying in bed at 2 AM, I started thinking about why I’m so excited about this wedding. And even more, why are an expected 2 BILLION viewers so excited about “just a stupid wedding?”
And as I thought about it, I realized that we’re wired for this. We are wired for fairytale romance.
Think about our favorite fairytales…
Snow White.

Snow White eats a piece of fruit given to her by her stepmother in disguise. The fruit causes her to “fall asleep” and only true love’s kiss from a prince will awake her from her slumber.

Sound familiar?

Romans 5:12-16

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Then there’s Sleeping Beauty. Pretty similar story line. Aurora, who has fallen asleep, receives a kiss from her prince, and comes awake to live happily ever after.





I think I’ve heard that one before too.

Ephesians 5:14- “…Awake, O Sleeper! And arise

from the dead! And Christ will shine on you.”

And now, at 4:00 AM, I await the royal wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton. Kate, who will drive up in a car as a commoner and will leave a princess, just by way of marrying her prince.

This is just too easy, babe.

Ephesians 2: 4-10

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Yes, we’re wired for fairytale romance, my dear sweet husband. We’re wired for fairytale romance because we were CREATED for fairytale romance. We came into this world commoners. We were born as “Kates,” but our bridegroom, Christ, has come to our rescue. He has awaken us from slumber with true love’s kiss (humbling himself to death on a cross), he has designed our gown of righteousness, and has changed our position, so that we are now “Princess Catherines.” We eat this “stupid wedding” stuff up because we were made for it.

How romantic is that!?

As I watch Prince William walk into the ceremony, I am entirely too excited about his royal wedding story, but I am much more excited about mine. Our royal wedding story, as the bride of Christ…

Revelations 19: 6-8

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

‘Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

Oh, what a glorious royal wedding that will be!

And the best part?

We are promised a “happily ever after.”

Now that’s a royal wedding.

The Man at the Foot of the Bridge

I skipped along the wayward path,
curls bouncing in the breeze.
I smiled, not knowing where I went
amidst the forest trees.

I came upon a wooden bridge,
swaying to and fro.
Skipping, skipping, all the way,
whilst the winds did blow.

But as I skipped, I heard a voice
calling out my name.
I quickly turned and saw the man
from which the calling came.

With open arms, he called again,
“Come back, my child!” he said.
“This pathway is not safe for you.
Follow me, instead.”

There was something about him I couldn’t resist.
Strange, yet familiar was he.
Barefoot, I pattered across that old bridge,
For with him, I wanted to be.

I tugged on his robe, and he lifted me up,
Swinging me, ’round and around.
Laughing, rejoicing with tears in his eyes,
His lost little girl was now found.

And just as we turned away from the bridge,
Lo! The ground started to shake.
Holding me tight, we looked back at that bridge
as it crumbled and started to break.

My head on his chest, I started to weep,
as the rotten bridge gave way.
I knew not where I went, nor the path I was on,
without knowing, I’d fallen astray.

But the man who was holding me tight to his chest,
wiped my tears from my cheek as he said,
“You’re safe, little one. You have no more to fear.
Come awake, child! You’re no longer dead.”

“For I knew you before you took your first steps,
and I knew on which path you were bound.
But in love, I came down and saved you from grief
so my mercy and grace would abound.”

We turned and he showed me a narrower path
and told me to “Run well the race.”
At nightfall, he told me he had to go home,
but he was leaving a friend in his place.

Now all grown up, I remember that man,
and I thank him again and again
For saving that blonde little curly head girl,
from eternal torment and pain.

Today, as I walk down the narrow path,
with the friend that he left at my side,
I thank him for saving that little blonde girl,
so that one day, with Him, I’ll abide.

My fleece of unfaithfulness

I know I ended my last post asking you to stay tuned for Installment #2 of the Beloved Story (if you found yourself asking what Beloved is, you can read Installment #1 here). But before I get to that, I need to take a slight detour…

The past two weeks or so have been spiritually rough to say the least. I’ve felt alone and out of touch with God. I’ve been in the Word, I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted, I’ve worshipped, I’ve wept, but I’ve felt like God has been silent. I have tried to sit down and hammer out the details for Beloved, but haven’t felt any direction or inspiration. I have begged Him for guidance in choosing the board of directors for the ministry, but I’m no further today than I was a month ago. I’ve been feeling like everything’s been at a standstill.

So last night, when a friend asked me how she could pray for me, what followed was a whiny, self-loathing mess of a response… “…While I’m enjoying reading through the bible in a year, I am yearning for in depth reading that is more “applicable” to my life right now. I know that all of God’s word is living and breathing in my head and heart, but I’m having a really hard time taking away anything from my daily reading. The old testament is full of good stuff, but I’m just frustrated. How do Joshua’s battles have anything to do with me trying to discern who I should ask to be involved with Beloved or where we should go to church? I feel like I need more direct guidance and as though God is just being silent. My husband has encouraged me to do some in depth reading right now, but I’m already behind in my chronological plan, so I feel like any time I have needs to be spent catching up.”

It didn’t seem that bad when I wrote it. After all, it’s how I felt, not what I believed. But then this morning, the Holy Spirit hit me with the story of Gideon.

Now, to be honest, if I wasn’t reading through the Bible in a year, I probably would have never turned to Judges for counsel or guidance. But, that’s where God had me today, and for that, I’m grateful. I had heard the story of Gideon a few times. When I was trying to decide where to go to college, I remember my elderly neighbor encouraging me to “put out a fleece.” Since then, I’ve heard other Christians use the phrase on a handful of occasions, but I had never sat down and actually read the story of Gideon. It goes a little something like this…

The people of Israel did what was evil in God’s sight (again!), and God allowed Midian to oppress them. When they cried out to God for deliverance, the angel of the LORD came to Gideon and told him that he, Gideon, would single-handedly strike down the Midianites. Gideon responded, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me.” God, being the patient and merciful God that he is, gave Gideon his sign (a consuming fire springing up from a rock). After seeing the fire, Gideon was pretty much freaked out since he thought he had seen the angel of the LORD face to face. But the LORD said to him “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.”

Later on (I’m skipping part of the story here for time’s sake), Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”

Okay, Gideon, I thought. You just spoke directly with God. Why do you need another sign?

But God, being the patient and merciful God that He is, gave him his wet fleece.

Surely you’ll believe God now, Gideon. Right?

Wrong.

Right after he was wringing out the fleece, he turned around and asked God to do it again.

“Just once more, God. Pretty please?”

And once again, our gracious, merciful God gave him his wet fleece.

At this point in the story, I became angry. Hold up. I thought. I always though putting out a fleece was a sign of faith. Gideon saw God and spoke to him directly. God assured him that he would deliver Israel from the Midianites through Gideon. Why couldn’t he just take Him at his word? This isn’t a fleece of faith! It’s really a fleece of unfaithfulness.”

And then I realized…I am Gideon. And the Holy Spirit convicted me of my fleece of unfaithfulness. I have been sitting here, waiting for some sort of “sign” from God. An email. A phone call. A bolt of lightning. Some thing that will give me direction in this ministry.

But what I’ve failed to embrace is that God has already equipped me through his word…

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 1 Timothy 3:16-17

God speaks directly to me through His word. And what’s more, his Spirit is alive in me. I don’t need a fleece. I need to have faith in the Word of God. And as I came to realize that truth, God, being the patient and merciful God that He is, spoke to me through his Word. And not just through a verse or a short passage, but through five books of the Old Testament and hundreds of years of history.

More on that next time, but for now, I leave you with this…

They just don’t get it!

Today I’m linking up with Women Living Well Wednesdays and Good Morning, Girls! Women in the Word Wednesdays.

In recent months, I’ve spoken to quite a few discouraged ministry leaders and workers who feel like ripping their hair out and yelling, “God, they just don’t get it!”

I’ve been there, and I know it can be disheartening when we pour our lives into people and those people fail us. Maybe they’re ungrateful. Maybe they’re apathetic. Maybe they’re outright rebelling. And we look up at God and say, “See! They just don’t get it!” Expecting him to pat us on the head, tell us how wonderful we are, and let us off the hook from this whole “ministry thing.”

Sounds a little silly in writing, doesn’t it?

Can you imagine if Jesus had just given up every time someone “didn’t get it”?

Think about it. He was born in a manger…a feeding trough for wild animals. He grew up to be rejected by his own people. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied him. The Jews crucified him.

And as he was hanging on a cross…thorns crushing his brow, nails piercing his hands…as he was gasping for his next breath, he spoke those beautiful words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And moments later, three words that would save the world…

I am glad that when I didn’t get it, Christ didn’t give up on me. And I am thankful that although I despised and rejected him, he has saved me.

Now, that, I don’t get.

So, beloved fellow servants, let us imitate Christ. When people fail us, when they “don’t get it,” let us look to his example, humble ourselves, and be obedient to our calling.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:1-10 (ESV)

Waiting…

Today I’m linking up with Women Living Well Wednesdays.

I have always been moved by song.

This week, I heard “While I’m Waiting” on positive, encouraging K-Love, and I was (surprise, surprise) brought to tears…

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait


I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord


It’s a time of waiting right now in my household.

Waiting to start a family.

Waiting on God to lead us to a new church.

Waiting for graduate school to be over and done with.

Waiting…waiting…patiently waiting.

It’s painful. But I wait.

And while I’m waiting…

I will serve Him.

I will invest in the people he has placed in my life.

I will work heartily as unto the Lord.

I will allow the Holy Spirit to prepare me for motherhood (Lord willing).

I will worship.

I will use this time to grow deeper in my relationship with Christ.

I will devote myself to the reading of His word and to prayer.

I will give thanks for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me.

I will not faint.

I will lean wholly on His strength.

I will live and move and breathe in Him.

I will keep moving…taking each day one step at a time. Obediently. Purposefully.

Though it’s not easy, He will be my comfort, my peace.

Faithfully, I wait.

Isaiah 40: 28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”

I will worship while I’m waiting on you, Lord.

For Good

Today, I’m linking up with Good Morning, Girls! Women in the Word Wednesday. Quick note: I am not doing the James study. I’ve been doing a chronological Bible reading plan, so I was in Genesis/Exodus this past week.
__

For the past week or so, I’ve been reading the story of Joseph. Every time I read this story, I marvel at these words…

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Isn’t that just like our God?

We all have had “Joseph” moments. Moments when we feel abandoned by our loved ones. Moments when we feel like a prisoner with no hope. Moments of helplessness. Moments of sorrow. Moments of despair.

But what man intends for evil, God means for good.

Lately, I have been haunted by a sin from my past. A boy from my past.

During my sophomore year in college, I felt like Joseph. My long-term boyfriend (now husband) and I had broken up, I had dropped my music major, and I felt like I had no idea where I was headed in life.

About a week before Valentines’ Day, a good friend of mine suggested that I go out to dinner with a guy from our dorm. He, too, had broken up with his high school sweetheat. And misery loves company, right?

I didn’t see the harm in one date, so I agreed.

One date turned into two, two turned into three. He fascinated me. His heart for the sick and poor was beautiful. His respect for his family was evident. He was planning on becoming a doctor and he loved music. What wasn’t there to love? Our pity date quickly snowballed into something more than either of us had intended.

But it was an ungodly relationship, and I knew it. He wasn’t a Christian. He wasn’t even an “Easter/Christmas” Christian. He was a devout Muslim. He worshipped Allah. I worshiped the one true God. He saw Jesus as a “good prophet“. I saw him as my Savior and King. He believed good works would make him right with his God. I could only boast in the grace of my own.

Yet…we were both lonely.

Things went too fast…progressing much quicker than any normal relationship. We both had huge cups that needed to be filled. We were running full speed ahead, until, not more than one month later, I hit my breaking point.

I couldn’t talk to my Christian friends at school. Most had already condemned me. I couldn’t talk to my parents. I was ashamed. I called the only person I knew would help me through this.

My dear sweet Daniel.

We hadn’t talked for months. Dan didn’t want us to act like we were dating if we weren’t. I totally get that now. But by the grace of God, he answered his phone that night.

He listened. He prayed. God used him to grant me peace.

He determined that night that he had to be in my life as my brother in Christ. And that night, one destructive relationship ended as another beautiful friendship began.

We had dated for almost four years prior to that night, but for some reason, that phone call marked a new beginning for us. We grew in our friendship, and six months later, we would start dating again…and just about six months after that, he would propose…and twelve months (on the dot!) after that…he would be my lawfully wedded husband.

God meant it for good.

Fast forward to a few months ago when we were up at Northwestern College visiting my sister and attending the Desiring God Conference, and we ended up going to a Christian concert.

Between sets, the front man for one of the bands talked about Compassion International. Ever since I had dated that “boy from my past,” my heart was set on adopting a little boy from India. God had used him to give me a heart for the children of India, especially young men. He had given me a deep burden for the lost in India–and a desire to help meet both their physical and spiritual needs. That night, my prayers were answered. Dan had known my desire for quite some time, and when we saw that there were children from India that needed sponsors, we decided to sponsor our first child…a now twelve-year-old boy named Sujin.

God meant it for good.

Yesterday, I was brought to tears reading this post from A Holy Experience and was reminded of the precious little boy who God has placed in our life. I went to a pile of old mail and found our first letter from Sujin and poured over it again and again…

I am very happy that you are going to be sponsors. You are [sic] support is making it possible for me to attend the child development centre where I am receiving tutoring and learning about Jesus. Thanks for your support. May God bless you.

Thanking you, with love,

Sujin


God meant it for good.

I sat down and wrote him a “Happy Birthday!” letter, picturing his face when he receives our note. And when I laid my head on the pillow, I prayed. I prayed…

…That he would grow deeper in the knowledge of our savior.

…That he would fall more in love with Him each day.

…That he would become a man after God’s own heart.

…That we will meet in heaven one day.

And I thanked God. With my whole being, I thanked him.

For God meant it for good.

Isn’t that just like our God?

How to fix a short fuse

I have been hearing the term “short fuse” a lot lately.

In reference to me.

It’s true. The past week or so I have been kind of on edge and ready to blow.

This morning, I visited the Good Morning, Girls! website and saw this verse and weekly challenge:

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20



Week 3 Challenge: This week we are going to focus on putting verse into action in our lives. As you interact with your families and friends, focus on being quicker to listen, slower to speak and slower to become angry.



Ugh. Don’t you just love when you’re slapped across the face with one of those?

Obviously, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my “short fuse,” and I started thinking about the underlying cause. In doing so, I googled the term “short fuse,” hoping to figure out what causes a real-life short fuse. After reading quite a few explanations with a wrinkled brow, I found this one easy enough for me to understand:

A short is caused when the hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white). It can also be caused if there is a break in a wire in the circuit. Shorts are a bit more difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by the wiring in your home or in something you have plugged into an outlet.



You probably already know where I’m going with this…

A short is caused when the hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white).



Back in my VBS Days, I remember one of our leaders doing a cool experiment in which he poured black spots all over a piece of white cloth to represent the sin in our lives. Then he put it in some sort of “magic” solution which washed the cloth white. Black = sin. Jesus = magic solution. White = righteousness. Savvy? (One of the characters used that word in Pirates of the Caribbean, and I’ve wanted to use it for awhile now, savvy? Heehee.)

Needless to say, once we’re made white by Jesus, there aren’t supposed to be any more black spots. No more black wires. No more sin.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:12



When the black wire creeps back in (for me, in the form of impatience, pride, and lack of self-control) and hits the white wire…short fuse.

It can also be caused if there is a break in a wire in the circuit.



This week I fell off the bible reading wagon. I think I went three or four days without picking it up. And my prayer life has been less-than-mediocre. One of my sweet sisters-in-Christ was quick to remind me that our God is gracious and that the only person setting reading requirements for me is me! And thank goodness for that truth! But while I am humbled and grateful for Christ’s goodness and grace, I also understand that there are consequences for my lack of discipline. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” When there’s a disconnect between me and God, when there’s a “break” in my wire…short fuse.

Shorts are a bit more difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by the wiring in your home or in something you have plugged into an outlet.



What am I plugging into my outlet?

Colossians 3 (one of my absolute favorite passages) tells us to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Reading through the list, I can definitely see forms of covetousness, idolatry, and malice in my life. I need to “unplug.”

But you can’t just “unplug.” The outlet is there to be used. Instead, Paul tells us to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Can I get a collective amen?

If I “plug in” compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forebearance, forgiveness, love, the peace of Christ, thankfulness, a desire and passion for the word, and genuine praise, not only will I not have any electrical problems, but my light will shine for all to see and will glorify God in the process.

My article tells me that when you have a short fuse, you have a few repair options:



1) Reset the circuit breaker.



“Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10



2) Remove the old wire and replace it with a new one.



“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:4

3) If all else fails, call an expert.



“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:1-10



Oh, Lord, help me not to have a “short fuse.” Rid me of myself. Help me to put off the clothing of old, and Lord, clothe me in your righteousness. Help me to practice discipline and self-control in my life so that I might draw near to you. Thank you for rewiring me. Thank you for being such a good and gracious God, rich in mercy and full of love. I am your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Let your glory shine through me!

Eagerly anticipating arrival, enjoyment, engagement and worship

Last Sunday night, I posted the following on my Good morning, girls! (my Bible reading accountability group) wall:


I finished Job last night and it felt so good! This morning, I also noticed a huge difference in my worship at church. I felt more prepared, more natural. Because I have purposed to meet with God each and every day during the week, I was ready to come before his throne on Sunday and thank him for everything he had revealed to me during the week. It was one of the most precious times of corporate worship I have ever experienced.


At church yesterday, I felt the same way. And it felt good. Oh-so-good. I didn’t feel forced or distracted. I had already been walking with God throughout the week. I had been preparing for this moment “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday” and I was ready for Sunday. I don’t say this out of a “holier than thou” heart. In fact, I say it in complete humility and gratitude.



For years, I have gone to church and have had to “pump myself up” for worship. I would go from spending six days “in the world” to suddenly being transported before the throne of God… totally unprepared…often times tired, weary and forced. I always seemed to have jet lag and had to force feed myself a spiritual red bull on Sunday mornings.


Since I started my daily Bible reading plan, I feel like a whole new woman on Sundays. I am excited for church…longing to go and worship God! I feel like I have been soaking him in all week and am ready to explode into worship by the time Sunday rolls around! I can’t help but raise my hands in praise to Author of the Universe. Lyrics which were once words on the screen come alive as I relate them back to my readings for the week. I am brought to tears as we sing and pray about his grace because I have seen it time and time again in my reading this week, and even more, my reading has made me more aware of his grace and mercy in my own life. I am more than ready. I am bursting to worship Him. And it’s all because of Him and the work that he is doing in me through the reading of his Word.


As is usually the case with God, He hammered this point home during the sermon on Sunday.


This Sunday, Pastor Bullmore preached the third part in his series on Living for God in Our Ordinary Lives. Two weeks ago, we learned how to live for God in our ordinary family life. Last week, we learned how to live for God in our daily labor. This week, we learned how to live for God in our ordinary lives by gathering together as God’s people.



We looked at three Psalms…


Psalm 122 – A psalm of eager anticipation


I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”




Psalm 133 – A song of arrival and enjoyment


Behold, how good and pleasant it is

when brothers dwell in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,

running down on the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

running down on the collar of his robes!

It is like the dew of Hermon,

which falls on the mountains of Zion!

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,

life forevermore.


Psalm 134 – A psalm of engagement and worship


Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!


Beautiful, right?


Oh, that I might continue to eagerly anticipate gathering together with my brothers and sisters for corporate worship. Oh, that I might rejoice in arriving at church on Sunday mornings and enjoy the sweet fellowship with other believers. Oh, that I might be fully engaged in worshiping you, Lord! That I might lift up my hands and bless you who made heaven and earth!





Come, people of the risen king who delight to bring him praise…
Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice!

One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice!

He came like a winter snow…

The Christian blogosphere is filled with Sanctity of Life posts this week (read Kevin De Young’s “Jesus Loves the Little Children” post here for a fresh perspective).

I wanted to write something, but just felt like so many people have already done it so eloquently that there was no need.

For some reason, though, the Holy Spirit has laid the following passage on my heart this week…

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

I get choked up just copy and pasting those words on the page.

The baby leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary…the mother of the Savior of the world, a tiny baby…greeted her. The baby leaped for joy in the presence of the Almighty God who had become flesh in the form of a tiny little baby.

When this passage first came to mind, I was just in awe of the fact that a baby could worship God inside the womb. Before he took his first breath, little baby John was already praising his Messiah!

But then it hit me. As wonderful as it is to think that an unborn child could praise his Messiah, it is simply overwhelming to think that the Messiah that he praised was also an unborn child. The God of the universe chose to enter into the world as a tiny little baby… a tiny little unborn baby.

The sanctity of life.

For more on this passage, I recommend listening to Pastor John Piper’s sermon entitled “The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy.”

Hedges 2: Playing Together in the Sandbox

Last week, I started a series on building hedges to protect your marriage. Installment #1 dealt with building hedges at work (if you missed it, you can read it here). For installment #2, I thought I’d talk about building hedges with friends of the opposite sex. But before I go there, let’s revisit my disclaimer for this series…

While I think that all Christian married couples should work to protect their marriages based on these passages and others, not every couple will go about it in the same way. The “hedges” that Dan and I have set up are good for us. They may not be good for you, and that’s okay. The hedges you and your spouse put up are between you and God. Period. No judgment here.

Now back to our scheduled programming… 🙂

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a lot of “boy friends.”

As a toddler, I had tea parties with Lance and indoor picnics with Charles.

In kindergarten, we played a recess game called Cats and Dogs. The boys were the dogs and the girls were the cats…with one exception. The boys got to choose one girl to be the Queen Dog and the girls got to choose one boy to be the King Cat. Poor little Bruce was chosen to be the King Cat. Me, on the other hand…I had the honor of being the Queen Dog.

If you look at pictures of my Sweet 16 Birthday Party, you’ll find my best friend Bethany…and about a dozen guys surrounding us.

And when I got to college, I made a few close girlfriends, but spent a lot of time being “one of the guys.”

Needless to say, building hedges with my male friends is still an adjustment for me.

When I married Dan, I had to change my friend habits. I’m no longer “one of the guys” but a wife to one man and one man only. I didn’t have to change because Dan is some sort of crazy controlling husband. I wanted to change because I love him dearly and want to protect what we have together.

So what has this looked like for me? Before you continue, remember my disclaimer;)

1) I don’t do one-on-ones with my guy friends. Ever.

There are two kinds of guy friends: married and single. Most of my single guy friends have moved away, so I don’t have to worry too much about it. But when and if they come back in town and want to get together, they can either come over to my house and spend time with Dan and I, or we (Dan + me + guy friend) can meet somewhere. Honestly, if they care about me, and I love Dan and enjoy spending time with him, then I’m sure they’ll enjoy spending time with him too. Plus…and I’m being completely honest here…I don’t think I’ve ever been really good friends with a guy who at some point in time I didn’t find myself remotely interested in. Even if I was just interested for a moment during a long-term friendship, I wouldn’t want that moment to creep back up on me. So, I’m protecting Dan, yes, but I’m also protecting myself.

Married friends are a bit easier. Dan and I only hang out with friends of the same sex or our married COUPLE friends, and I don’t think either of us feels like we’re somehow “missing out.” It’s just double the fun!

2) When we do have “couple friends,” I remain guarded.

Sadly, I have known a few people whose marriages have fallen apart when a spouse from Couple A and a spouse from Couple B end up having an inappropriate relationship. To avoid that fate, all communications between me and another person’s spouse are done out in the open. Very, and I mean very, rarely do I text or email one of my friend’s spouses in the private sphere. They might get a text from me on their birthday or Christmas, but that’s about it. No long conversations back and forth, no private facebook messages, etc. If I do happen to send or receive a message to/from a male friend, I try to share with Dan so he’s in the loop and not taken off guard by anything, and if I’m the one sending, I might “cc” my guy friend’s wife on the text so that she’s not taken off guard.

I also try to be very sensitive to my surroundings when I’m with other couples. Either boy, girl, girl, boy or girl, boy, boy, girl at the movie theatre (I’d rather share my armrest with my hubby!), and I try not to sit right next to another married man on a couch or at a table if I can avoid it. Obviously you could take this to the extreme, but as a general rule of thumb, I try to sit next to my husband or another woman.

These are hedges of protection for me and Dan, but I also think that they’re hedges of protection for our friends. I would hate for one of my girlfriends to for some reason see my name in her husband’s inbox and have that rush of panic come over her. Even if my intentions were completely pure, I wouldn’t want her to feel any sort of fear or anxiety. Romans 14 says to never “put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother,” and I never want to be that stumbling block. Yes, hedges protect my own marriage, but they also protect the marriages of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

3) I don’t touch.

To be honest, I’m not a huge “toucher” in general. In normal conversation, I wouldn’t lean over and touch someone’s knee or shoulder to make a point, so for me, not touching isn’t that hard. But I do try to keep a decent circle of space. I do high fives and side hugs (if you want a good laugh, read Jon Acuff’s post on side hugs over at Stuff Christians Like) with my oldest and truest guy friends, but that’s about it. Ha…how corny do I sound right now–high fives and side hugs? Pffft.

4) I do touch.

I’m all about appropriate marital PDA. I hold my husband’s hand, rub his back, and kiss him on the head when I walk behind him. These are all little reminders to him that HE is my husband and that I chose HIM over everyone else. Plus, like I said in installment #1, when people see you interact with your husband, they are more likely to respect your marriage.

5) I play taboo.

As I discussed in installment #1, I try not to get all “emo” on my guy friends. No deep, emotional talks without my husband present and no discussing my husband’s flaws, our marital issues, or our sex life. I also don’t discuss things that I haven’t discussed with my husband yet. In other words, no secrets that my husband isn’t aware of.

If there’s ever a question in my mind as to whether or not I should be discussing something with another man, I try to think, Would Dan feel comfortable if he were sitting here with me right now? Or better yet, Would I feel comfortable if Dan was talking to another woman like I’m talking to this man right now? Do unto others…

5) Center my friendships around the gospel.

If my friendships with men are centered around the fellowship and furtherance of the gospel, then I have nothing to fear. (I totally stole that phrase from Warren Wiersbe, so no, I’m not that amazingly smart all by myself!)

Think about it…

I have non-Christian male friends. If I am constantly keeping the gospel at the center of my heart and mind, then I will not act inappropriately with them. God designed marriage to be a beautiful representation of Christ and his church. If am continually trying to further the gospel, then I will not want to distort this representation. I won’t act inappropriately because I will want to show proper respect for my husband to demonstrate the respect I have for Christ. If the furtherance of the gospel is at the forefront of my mind, then I will want to be the best testimony possible so that God might use me as the salt and light in my friend’s life.

But there are also my Christian friends who already believe in the gospel. Often times we describe the time that we spend with our Christian friends as fellowship. “Come on over for some fun and fellowship.” “Thank you, Lord, for food and fellowship.” “Would you like to come fellowship with us as we watch the Bears destroy the Packers?” Good ole’ fellowship. 🙂

But what exactly does fellowship mean? Literally, it means “in common.”

As Christians, we have one thing in common: the gospel.

Warren Wiersbe says that salvation is a threefold work: 1) the work God does for us–salvation, 2) the work God does in us–sanctification, 3) the work God does through us–service. We are a saved people who are being sanctified by God in order to best serve and glorify him. If we keep the gospel in mind, then we will never want to do anything to hinder the work that God is doing in and through our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Instead…

“…Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10: 19-25

As a “girl friend,” and more importantly as a sister in Christ, I must only act as to stir up my brothers to love and good works, encouraging them, as the Day of the Lord draws nearer.

In closing…

Be a dog on the playground. Have fun with the boys. Girls rule, boys drool, and hedges let us play together safely in the sandbox. All to the glory of God.