It’s crazy how attitudes change! If you would have asked me a year ago if reading through the Old Testament was in my upcoming plans, I would have laughed. For some reason I’ve never had a huge interest in the OT because I had the wrong view of it. This summer I’ve been CRAVING it like crazy! I used to think that it seemed like there was a lot of complaining from guys who wouldn’t listen to God the first time, and a lot of God bringing down judgment on the Israelites, and not a whole lot of … love, I suppose. Well, there are PLENTY of instances where guys didn’t listen to God the first time, and yes, they wind up complaining. =P Yes, there is a lot of wrath in the OT. But there’s a crazy amount of love all the way through as well. In fact, I’m really starting to understand the love of God the more I read through. I’m WAY behind where I should be if I’m wanting to finish the OT by the end of the summer. Honestly, that won’t happen. My goal is to have it done by the end of SECOND semester. Yeah, things are a tad busier than I’d anticipated. I’m in Deuteronomy right now, but I skipped around a little and read through bits & pieces of Isaiah, Psalms, and Hosea. But back to my original point. =)
Today’s culture is defining God by love. Many churches claiming the name of Christ have fallen to this as well. The church can’t possibly follow God if we don’t allow gay ordination – they love each other too, right? No. This is wrong. You can argue this with me all day long, but just because people refuse to accept the truth does not change the truth. Homosexual love is a perverted form of Christ’s love. Not once does God ever say that homosexual behavior is acceptable. In both the New and Old Testament it is condemned. Now some churches are starting to accept it because they’re defining God by “love.” We have to define love by God. Sometimes that love doesn’t always sound or seem pleasant, but it’s still love. All-loving God does NOT mean all-allowing. Would you as a parent allow your child to do every last thing they wanted? No, of course not. You have to bring them up correctly. Guide and direct them. Disciplining them when they stray from the way you’re teaching them. What gives us the right to say that God can’t do the same? I’m absolutely blown away at the love displayed by God in what I’ve read so far. Here are a few of my favorite ways that God has explained his love thus far in my readings..
“I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” –Leviticus 26:9-13
“Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, ans he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” –Deuteronomy 1:29-31
“At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” –Deuteronomy 3:21-22
“After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time – if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” –Deuteronomy 4: 29-31
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is Go; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” –Deuteronomy 7: 9-10
The love of God is all over the OT. Whenever he brings judgment against Israel, it’s because they’ve chosen to follow pagan religions and worship manmade idols. Whenever he brings wrath against individuals, it’s because they desecrate what he has told them to do. This is no different than a parent choosing to punish their children for something done wrong. Why do we view discipline as such a terrible thing? Is it not correction that reminds us of right and wrong? The incredible part is, look at Deut 4 that I quoted. God tells the Israelites, “Yup. You’re gonna mess it up again. You’re going to botch it big time. But if you choose to seek me in the middle of all the mud & muck, I’ll be right there waiting with open arms. I don’t care how dirty you get me, let me wrap my arms around you and tell you that I love you.” Is this not also what a parent does? When they watch their children grow up and make terrible decisions, do the loving parents not welcome their children back home the second they want to come back and get things straightened out?
For us to think that God is too “nice” to judge sin is a complete underestimation of him. He tells us not to take revenge against our enemies because one day, HE’LL take some serious revenge – the final day. We cannot continue to define God by love. We have to define love by God.
I’m seeing God’s love in a completely new way and I’m blown away. If you haven’t read through the OT recently, do it. There’s some incredible stuff in there. Personally I can’t wait to get to Judges. ☺ But that’s just me…
I’m ever-so-slightly starting to get to the point of wanting the summer to wrap up and to go home. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE IT HERE!!!! In fact I’m trying to figure out how to come back next summer with ten thousand weddings happening. It’s the people I’m achin’ for. I miss my church family. I miss the lil’ short snorts. I miss my best friend. I miss Chris & Dawn & the PK gang. Obviously I’m missin’ the parentals. I’m not really homesick. I just miss my number ones. ☺
I had the awesome opportunity of hiking the Highline Trail completely solo on Monday. It was FABULOUS! Twelve miles of being by myself, with sheer beauty all around, a chit-chat with God every now and then, and soaking up the essence of Montana. The Garden Wall wasn’t in bloom, but that gives me an excuse to hike it all again. ☺ It’s the most beautiful hike in Glacier. Truly, truly amazing. I need to get trekking poles and a brace though. I’m waiting on Dad to send me a good one from home. I’m searching for poles tomorrow. My knees and right ankle are telling me that if I attempt another hike that lengthy any time soon, they’re refusing to go with me. =P And man, knees & ankles are REAL important when you hike. ☺ Anyway. I was so blown away by the views of the Highline. WOW!! Valleys, huge mountains, rivers, streams. Everywhere you look. Utterly amazing. No words are powerful enough. This is a perfect example of how I’ll never understand the love of God. As I looked around at the dozens of mountains surrounding me and just basked in the glory of it all, it blew me away to think that God loves me so much more than any of that. To think that the creator of all of that, created me and tells me that I hold far more beauty than any of that is just … incomprehensible. I’m small and powerless standing next to the grandeur of the mountains, yet God says, “They don’t hold a candle to you.” That is a powerful, powerful love. That’s a love I honestly cannot wrap my mind around. That should tell us as humans (women especially) that our views of ourselves are often very skewed from the view that God has of us. Self esteem has been an issue of mine for years now, and it’s something that I struggle against daily. I don’t see the same thing that God sees when I look in the mirror. If he’s created me, what gives me the right to belittle and berate myself the way I do, if he, the creator of all things, finds me beautiful? What gives me that right? Exactly.
Pray for endurance. We’re coming up on our final few Sundays. The team needs strength. We need the steam to finish these last few weeks. I’m going to miss these four like crazy. They’ve become like family. I never anticipated being this hooked on ‘em. They’ve grown on me. ☺
Pray on friends. Pray with ferocity. Prayer changes things. Promise. ☺