Sunday, 31 January 2010

Drawing Nearer

Life. It's one of those crazy adventures and it's real. Sometimes I don't understand it, actually, most of the time. The further I go along, the more I realize I don't know. It's like that for me now.

I find it interesting that the closer I draw to God, the more sinful I see that I am. I find myself wondering if I have made any progress over the last few years. But the thing is, becoming holy, purified, and godly is a nasty process at times. It means dragging everything out and exposing it for what it really is. It's about tearing off the outer, clean appearance and seeing all the filth underneath and cleaning it.

The closer to God I get, the more I see in my life that shouldn't be there, the more I see that needs to change, and rightly so. As we come into God's light and presence, it reveals any darkness lurking there. Not much is hid in a place of light, purity, and holiness. Sin and unrighteousness cannot hide; it can only be exposed for what it is. Then, as gold, we are put the fire and endure the painful purifying process.

This is what God does to us because we are precious to Him. He wants us pure, clean, clothed in white. We can look at Isaiah 42:3 and know that even though we are weak, God does not give up on us. He always remains faithful. Even though we don't always understand, He leads and guides us. He has promised never to forsake us.

As we go through life and feel the Lord's rod of chastisement, let us remember these things. He is purifying us because we are precious and He wants us as His spotless bride, clothed in purest white.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Kitchen Blues

Am I the only one who experiences kitchen blues every now and again, or are there others out there just like me? I will say that I really enjoy cooking and baking and over the years, my skills have put out some amazing food. But there are also those times when things comes out "not-so-great" to say the least, which sometimes happens when I try a new recipe I'm excited about. This happened to me earlier this week. I was taking the chance at trying a new recipe I'd been pondering a long time. (Later, I found out it wasn't actually the recipe I was after.) Well, I had barely gotten started when I came to realize that this cooking expedition wasn't going to go over so well. When that happens, I wish I could make everything disappear and start all over with something else. Seriously, when things go wrong in the kitchen, I get stressed out.

That made me think that somebody needs to write a book on how to deal with every possible kitchen dilemma. There probably is one, seeing there is a book on everything you could possibly imagine, or so it seems. And sometimes I think some recipes are just jokes to create horrific disasters, like the time I was baking a cake and suddenly realized as I was stirring in the flour that what I had on my hands was more of a cookie dough than a cake batter. Only then did I notice that the recipe didn't call for any milk or water and the only moisture was a small amount of oil, eggs and whatever juice escaped from the apples. I baked it anyway hoping it would magically turn out somehow, but in short, I'll just say, that we didn't end up finishing that cake. All in all, it can be pretty discouraging when you make things that don't turn out and it dampens your ambition to keep going.

So after my not-so-great dinner on Monday, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I came home from work Tuesday night to see my mom take a beautiful lasagna out of the oven. Now we're not talking any lasagna, because I think there's many not-so-impressive ones out there. This is the one with tender noodles, zesty pasta sauce, lean ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Then we also have the cottage cheese in between layers and topped generously with mozzarella cheese and baked perfectly. It is then served with a Caesar salad made in our household only with the best Renee's Caesar dressing. By now, my readers are probably starving and drooling without realizing it, so I'll stop. But just for the record, we enjoy some pretty awesome food.

I know Jesus handled some food dilemmas wonderfully. I certainly couldn't come up with a way to feed 5000+ people with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish. Yet somehow, I don't have the faith to pray and ask Him to fix my kitchen flops when they happen. I suppose it is all a part of learning and I must bear it patiently like everything else.

Until next time, God bless, and although many of us are fortunate to eat so well, do consider the millions of people and children who can't. They need our prayers and support!

Monday, 18 January 2010

I Will Find You

--> -->
It happened suddenly
But we all knew it
We fled
Racing towards closing doors
Trying to escape
I pushed through the crowds
I knew it was my time
But this was not where I wanted to die
A hand took hold of mine
A strong hand
Helping others reach freedom
I turned
Looked into his eyes
Beautiful eyes
Full of love
Full of pain
“Go. I will find you,” he promised
I was torn
I didn’t want to go
But I knew I had to
I fled out into the streets
People crying
Seeking refuge
I waited
I hoped
I prayed
But he never came.

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Garden: A Place of Love

The other night, I was thinking of the hymn “In the Garden” and I realized what a beautiful love story it really is. But before I go further, shall we look at the hymn itself?

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear,
Falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing;
And the melody
That He gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Tho’ the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go:
Thro’ the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
--Austin Miles

Yes, there’s a true romantic love story if you ask me. As I read the first few lines, I’m strangely reminded of those movies with teenage couples where the girl runs off late at night to be with her boyfriend. Yes, they always show the girl sneaking out of the house, the guy’s already waiting, and the run off together, dancing in the moonlight.

But now, let’s be serious. In that first verse, I see a girl go out early in the morning as the sun is rising, before anybody else is up to be with this man she loves. The chorus is one of real beauty. I see that young couple totally lost in their love, walking through that garden, arm in arm. They may stop to watch the sunrise together, and she lays her head against his chest as he holds her close. This is home. She knows his love is true, that she can trust him, that he will never leave her side, that he will always be there, always hold and protect her.

She loves the sound of his voice. When he speaks to her, the world around them becomes silent. She becomes completely unaware of what’s going on around her. She always remembers these precious words, words of love, promise and comfort. They would spend the whole day together and even at nightfall, she doesn’t want to leave.

Is it so with our relationship with Christ? We are His bride. Do we treat Him like our Lover? Do we treasure each moment, each word? Do we always run out to meet Him first thing in the morning? Do we spend our last waking moments with Him? I must admit that I don’t, but I know it would be pretty amazing if I did.

I’d like to think that God thinks gardens are romantic too. I mean, when He made Adam and Eve, He put them in a garden. It was in the garden that He came to spend time with them.

“And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”
--Genesis 3:8

This is how God initially designed it! He put the first lovers in a garden where He surrounded them with beauty. This is where He came to them. Isn’t that incredible?!! The Song of Solomon speaks frequently of gardens. They’re romantic! Where did Jesus spend His last night before He went to the cross? A garden. He spent His last night in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. He was even buried in a sepulchre in a garden. What a fitting place for the Son of God, the man who displayed the greatest love ever.

So take some time to meet with God in the garden. It’s a beautiful place of love.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Inner Warfare

As Christians, we fight many battles, and I think that the hardest ones by far are the ones that we fight inside of ourselves, within our hearts and minds. That’s a big problem with me sometimes, or rather, quite often. I don’t know why it’s that way, but I suppose even the first battles ever fought were inner ones. When Eve was debating whether or not to accept the fruit, I’m sure she experienced an inner battle first. Even when Satan rebelled against God, it first began inside of him, an inner desire and longing for more power, to be God himself. Thus, it seems understandable for me to experience these inner struggles.

Lately, I’ve really been dealing with the problem of guilt and regrets. I didn’t really realize how bad this issue was until last Sunday in our Sunday school lesson at church. The teacher did a brief survey on different things in our lives that were causing us problems, if you will. One of the questions was whether or not there was something in our life that repeatedly trips us up, holds us back, or sends us back to the beginning. As I thought about this question I realized that regrets over past mistakes was probably a big one at the top of my list. Throughout my week, this seemed to be a recurring problem and I just couldn’t get over it. It wasn’t even so much over past stuff, but lots of present things. I would do something or make a mistake somewhere, and I would feel so stupid and couldn’t seem to get over it. As I think of it now, it’s really kind of ridiculous because they’re such silly little things often that hardly anyone will notice, and yet, I made such a big deal about it.

Sometimes we really just have to get over it and move on. Yes, our inner struggles and battles can be difficult to deal with, but we can’t always be stuck in a rut. Sometimes we just have to pick ourselves up and move on. It’s good to stop and think over our mistakes and shortcomings and bring them before the Lord. Actually, I think this is necessary if we want to advance in the Christian life. Acknowledge, repent, but then leave it alone as much as you can. Yes, we do bear consequences for our actions, and later in life that experience will serve as a reminder to do something differently, but we don’t have to think about it constantly. I believe that constant reminder, that voice in the back of our minds, is a tactic Satan uses to pull us Christians down and discourage us, but we don’t have to let him.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11
“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves clear in this matter.”

Yes, godly sorrow is good for it leads to repentance, it makes us careful, and it clears us. But all too often I find myself sorrowing after repentance, still stuck in guilt and shame. That’s wrong. When Christ died and rose again, He not only took care of our sin, but He also took care of the guilt and shame. If I still feel guilty or ashamed after repentance, after knowing that God has forgiven and cleared me, that’s my choice. That’s me allowing Satan to have room in my life to work out those thoughts. When I do that, I’m actually in a way saying that what Jesus accomplished on the cross wasn’t good enough, it didn’t cut it, didn’t do the job. Oh, how terrible that is to live a defeated life when Christ rose again and defeated death itself. It does us no good, but as that verse above says, “the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

So let us not get dragged down into a pit. Don’t let anything steal your joy. The battle has been won. Let’s show the world who our God really is!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

A New Year

Well, 2009 has gone and 2010 has come. I somehow like the changing of years. It always feel fresh and, well, new. Aside from the celebrations, food, games, friends, and other such fun, I enjoy thinking back on my year, as well as hearing what God has done in the lives of others. I had that opportunity again this year and it was a blessing.

I was particularly challenged by what one friend shared. He explained that it had been a good year, but really, it was trash. It was trash compared to all that it could have been, all that we could have done. I had to agree. It was a good year, but I did so little for the Lord and for others. All that extra time I had here and there, or wasted time that I could have used more wisely, could have been used for so much more. But I chose not to and I don't doubt that I missed out on many blessings.

As I go into this next year, I know that I have to commit any resolve I make to God. I am only weak, but He is strong and is able to keep that which I commit to Him. There are many things that I want to see happen in my life this coming year, but it is only through Christ that anything can be accomplished. I don't know what this year will hold; I'm in a season of waiting and I don't know how long it will last, but I know that while I wait, I am called to serve. I don't know what that will all include and I know it won't always be easy, but it is Christ who gives me strength through it all.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed."
--Psalm 37:3