Tag Archives: church

Jeremiah 29:11. Insert projectile vomit here.

On Saturday I began the “Scripture challenge” that’s going around Facebook right now. You post one passage a day for five days, and you tag two new people each day to do the same. Truthfully, I find things like that to be hokey, but there was some conviction for me: What could I possibly post that’s more important than the Word of God? I’m not trying to pull a Jesus juke here, but seriously. Sometimes passages are what others need to hear because they’ve lost a lot of hope. Sometimes they cut us where we need to be cut, but there is always the promise of being renewed, rebuilt, and restored. In an effort to not “Jesus juke” the challenge and make it sound like life is peachy and perfect, or that God is a wealth, health & prosperity God, and being a Christian means happy trails all day long, I’m instead posting a passage each day that I hear quoted rather often and with good intentions, but generally the understanding is lacking or the verse is taken out of context. So if you missed them, check out Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.

Day 4 – Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11. The verse seems to bring warm, fuzzy feelings all around. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Aaaaw. Isn’t that nice? Allow me to explain my extreme want and need to hurl whenever I hear this verse quoted grossly out of context.

For those of you who read this verse trying to find comfort because you can’t decide what major to study, what job to take, what person to date, etc (insert hokey life decision here) you MIGHT want to read this verse in context. The Israelites were in captivity. Not just any ol’ captivity that they’d wandered into, but captivity that God had specifically put them in because of rebellion. Furthermore, what does God tell them in the verses prior to? (starting in verse 5)

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, see the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Emphasis mine)

These people are in the middle of exile.. banishment from their homeland because God had carried them there. Can you imagine the spiritual battles occurring?! Going on…

Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.

God tells them that there are going to be people trying to convince them that they come in the name of the Lord, when really they’re doing nothing but tearing down their spiritual understanding in an already-distressed state. I understand that many people read this as “don’t worry, God has it under control.” Yes, that’s true. However, we’re failing to miss the real point in this story…

God may carry us into, or may allow us to be carried into spiritual exile – James 1:2-4 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Trials are going to happen. The trials Paul refers to are different from the exile that God has carried the Israelites into. Our faith may land us in trials, as does our lack of faith. Lucky us, we all get to face trials, difficulties, and probably even a little bit of exile-type feelings! :) What did God tell the Israelites to do while they were there? Settle down. Make it feel like home, because you’re gonna be here for a while. Get comfortable and go about your daily life. Don’t change anything. Keep on keepin’ on. Too bad we leave that out whenever we read Jeremiah 29. Get comfortable with your distress, because God may need you there to teach you something. Too often I think we look for a way out of our messes. Should we? I’m tempted to think that even when we bring this upon ourselves that we aren’t necessarily going to find a way out. Jeremiah 30: 12-15 –

Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.

Let’s face it: If we need disciplined, it’s because we’ve lacked judgment skills somehow, somewhere. Discipline is necessary. And so when we’re in the middle of that discipline, we can’t act like the two-year-old trying to worm his way out of time-out. We have to see that discipline through to the end. Sometimes discipline might feel a little bit like spiritual exile. And then we try to get out as if we don’t deserve to be there. That’s cute. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t think God wants us to be miserable. However, for those of us who have this outlandish appetite for sin, sometimes we need to be carried into exile and left there for a while. I’m not talking a forever, done deal, you’re in hell sort of exile. That’s not biblical. I’m not meaning for exile to sound like we’re separated entirely from God. God was still speaking through prophets while Israel was in exile. He hadn’t left them. He was ticked, but he hadn’t left them.

There are going to be moments when we aren’t going to know why things are occurring the way they are. That may be a good time for us to step out of the situation and ask ourselves if we’ve done something to get ourselves there. If so, we can probably assume God’s trying to get our attention.

For those who are truly walking with God, I don’t think he’ll hesitate to allow unfortunate circumstances to happen if that’s what it takes to get our attention when we’re spiritual space cases. I’m a little put off with people that say God won’t allow something unfortunate to happen to get our attention because he “loves us too much” to do something like that. Oh please. That’s the thing – he loves us too much to want to lose us. If it takes a little bit of pain to wake us up and turn us back to him, then I’m pretty sure that’s worth it.

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Proof. Hebrews 12:5-11. When God’s trying to get your attention, don’t make light of it. Don’t tell yourself you can put off responding until tomorrow. He’ll do what it takes to get you to wake up.

Does anyone ever read past verse 11 (in Jeremiah 29), or anything besides verse 11? Look at what comes after (starting in verse 12)…

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

So when will we truly find God and truly understand his plans? When we seek him with our whole heart. Can we have a come to Jesus moment real quick? If you honestly expect for God to reveal some magical, perfect plan (or really, any realistic, God-honoring plan for that matter) for your life without ACTUALLY doing a little bit of work, you crazy. No, our relationship with him isn’t based on works, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I see people quoting the bible on Twitter profiles, in tweets, in Facebook statuses, etc. and yet everything else is total trash. Cussing, hardcore partying, disgusting tweets from some sex-laden account on Twitter, getting high, making excuses for addictions. Do you HONESTLY believe that Jesus is your homeboy and has no issue with you not living right? Get serious. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. Oh. Well snap. Guess that says something. Either you’re pursuing God or you’re not. Get off the fence and pick a side. Lukewarm isn’t the game Jesus plays (Revelation 3:16-18. Look it up.) Yes, he has plans for you, but if you’re sitting in the middle of exile, ask yourself why you’re there. Stop trying to fix the problem yourself. Look to Christ. Let him guide you. Let the Lord take you back to Jerusalem. You have to decide that you want to go back, but you have to allow him to take you back. You fell off the horse? Get back up and get back on the darn thing. Repent and do the things you did at first (Revelation 2:5). Keep going. There are few things as worthless as a Christian sitting and bathing themselves in self-pity. Jesus has this thing under control. Trust him and keep going. Guys, culture has lied to you. A lot of churches have lied to you. Some of you have seen the video of Debriah going on one heck of a rant about the church lying to people – it’s solid. A lot of people have silver tongues that promise a life of abundance if you’ll only believe in God. Please find that for me in the Bible. I must have missed that one. This girl right here has lived one serious lukewarm life. I was the ultimate fence rider for years. So many people did a wonderful job of loving on me during those years and for that I’m forever indebted to them. However, it wasn’t until a few friends basically looked at me, and with a whole lotta love said, “Pick a side. You aren’t a teenager anymore. This game is old. Grow up,” that I finally started doing it. And sometimes we need that. So if you’re pulling the crap I did: partying every now and then (“Hey, what’s a little too much to drink going to hurt?”), playing cat & mouse with the opposite sex (“I’ll only go this far…”), dancing with an addiction to, well, basically sex (“What’s it matter? I’ve screwed this up before. One more time isn’t going to do anything..”) – whatever it is you do – stop. Stop it. Just stop. This isn’t going to get you anywhere. There will always be another time. Knock it off and pursue Jesus. Your emotions may not be involved in your choices for a really long time – that doesn’t give you any excuse or reason to not choose the right thing. You want to know God’s plans for your life? Then pursue him instead of the rest of the world. You can’t do all of those things I was doing (or pick your sin – whatever) and still pursue God. It does not work that way. There’s a difference between falling short while pursuing God and pursuing the world while pursuing God. I was not just falling short – I was in an all-out pursuit for both lives and figuring out quickly that one had to win and the other had to die.

Scripture is a continual love story of God redeeming his people time and time and time and time and time again. But the thing about relationships is both sides have to work at it. Yes, God does have plans to prosper his people and not bring spiritual harm to them, however, if we think we can sit back and enjoy the ride without ever getting to know him, without ever listening for his voice and obeying that voice, without spending time in the Word then we’re lying to ourselves.

We should take heart in the fact that God is so relentless in pursuing us and knowing us that he’s willing to carry us into exile when we need it yet still speak hope into our lives. That’s an incredible God – a god that other religions have yet to ever know. Don’t make him into a shallow God that will be at your ever beckon call. His existence is not to cater to you when you need it and step aside once you have it figured out. We’re to be in communion with him. Walk with him. Spend time with him. Serve with him. He has plans for you, but it’ll be hard to listen for them if you don’t know the sound of his voice.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

P.S.

I didn’t include this in the post because it would have made it even longer, however, please keep in mind that this letter is written to a group, not an individual. Often we make it sound like God has one path and only one path for us *as individuals*, and we make ourselves miserable trying to figure that out. Well, take heart, friends. That’s not what this verse is about either. God was speaking to a community, not you as an individual. That’s a different post for a different day, but it’s some food for thought – you can do the dishes. ;)

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Going to church vs. Being the church

For starters, you have to read this for the rest of this to make total sense. I love what I’ve read from this guy. Those who read my blog (you’re apparently bored, for starters) will probably agree with me when I say that we may have been cut from the same stone.

So now that you’ve read it (are you getting that it’s important?), what do you think? Should you go to church? Given that a (likely) vast majority of churches in America have this sort of ‘feeling’ to them, should you still go? Is it a waste of time? Is it too organized? Is it too predictable? Does the Holy Spirit show up in routine and planning? Are we wasting our time for an hour or so on Sunday mornings only to turn away and not be changed?

Man, this is tricky. Every point he made is an excellent point. I want to provide some respectful push back, and I’ll try to keep it succinct, because I want to hit the point in my title of going vs. being. (But let’s be real. I don’t do succinct, so gut it out with me)

While I am not for putting time restraints on the Holy Spirit, let’s back up and take a look at time. This has always been a personal belief of mine, so this is in no way sound theology. I consider myself to know little to nothing of whatever “theology” means today, and more importantly, I certainly didn’t live in the culture of the day, nor have I studied Greek and the Jewish/Gentile culture that Jesus was living in (all of that is far more important than anything that CS Lewis or Charles Wesley has to say with their Western perspectives and interpretations). God created day & night. He created time. When he did this, was he already pointing to the cross, just in creating day from night? We read in Revelation that there is no night. There’s really no concept of time. Time, while beautifully redeemed, is still necessary because of sin. Because of the fall. Because of the weeds that man must now pull and break his back for. We would need no time if we lived in perfect harmony. We would pay it no heed. Could night and day still exist and us live outside constraints of time? I don’t think so. The turning of the day, the changing of the hours, position of the sun and moon, etc. – all of it places us under a schedule and our bodies were designed to react – all because God saw the mess coming…and chose to make it anyway because of his immense love. And further, he chose to design us in a way that would react healthfully to these changes, and even need these changes to live. Yes, Adam and Eve lived without sin – for a time. I think the cross began to redeem what we’d made of time. It tore the curtain in the temple and gave us 24/7 access to Yahweh without the need to go through the High Priest. It gave our souls an ability to no longer rely on days of sacrifice, because the ultimate sacrifice had just uttered with dying breath, “It is finished.” So here we are. Living crazy schedules, wishing we had more time. Here we are scheduling our church services, needing to be mindful of time. I don’t agree with rushing through services with the same ho-hummed schedule week after week after week, but I do believe that since we serve a God of order and not of chaos that, to a degree, we have to recognize some sort of schedule because we’re human – and in our imperfection, we’re constrained by it, so our worship services are at the mercy of our own flaws in a way.

But what about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? He came and the people responded appropriately, did they not? They didn’t shush the Spirit and say, “Not now! We’re getting ready to move from our three songs and into the sermon! Come back later!” This is where I agree wholeheartedly with Chris. He makes a good point: sometimes we just get too expectant of the same thing over, and over, and over. But what’s interesting is the Day of Pentecost didn’t happen at the temple. It happened at someone’s house. The believers had gathered, perhaps for what we consider a small group time, and that’s when the Spirit moved. Honest question: Do we expect the wrong thing from our church services? I’m honestly wondering if maybe God saves the ‘big stuff’ for the ‘small groups’ first of all, because it produces less chaos, which is just like his nature. Do something big in a small group of people. Have you ever tried to accomplish something huge with a huge number of people? It’s a hard thing to do. It works so much better when you can work in a small group and get one-on-one, or three-on-one, or whatever. And second of all, when we enter church with an attitude that’s anything other than bringing thanks and offering before Jesus Christ in a communal aspect, we’ve missed the mark. Church ain’t about what we’re wanting Jesus to do to us, or what feeling we want him to bring to us. It’s about praising him for what he’s done in the past, what he’s doing now, and what he will do in the future. Can he move within that and do something huge if he wants to? Absolutely. He’s God. He can do whatever the heck he wants. My point is, it doesn’t seem like that’s when he chooses to wreck us to the greatest degree. And I think it’s like that for good reasons. Anything can become routine, but I think he knows that church, more than many communal gatherings, is prone to getting stuck in that rut. It’s hard to move among a large group when they all have no expectation that he’ll move in different ways, or they have different expectations about how he should be moving, or how he will move or can move (differing theologies are so much fun, aren’t they?!). I think he still loves the church, though. And I think that may be a backstage reason as to why he encouraged consistency in meeting in small groups: he had the Twelve, and from those he had the Inner Three. It’s easier for us as humans to be reached, to be vulnerable, to be real, and to be ferocious with our faith when we have two or three beside us doing the same thing. It’s difficult to move a couple million through the desert, as Moses found out. It took 40 years to get to their destination while it took the Twelve’s ministry considerably less time to fan into flame the Holy Spirit inside them to reach the far ends of their world – literally.

The following conclusion can be drawn from everything I just explained: We go to church to worship and praise corporately, not necessarily to be fed in huge ways, as that is our own spiritual responsibility. Church is a time to plug in with those around us, but our personal/small communal times outside church are perhaps best for our growth and understanding. That’s not to say those who preach are off the hook – don’t misunderstand me. Should we continue in our same church ruts? No. And frankly, I believe it’s the church’s head leadership that should be taking responsibility for the ruts. It won’t be the congregation that decides to make the change – it will come from the leadership. That being said, I don’t think we should leave our Sunday morning services because we’re frustrated or we can’t concentrate. Following Jesus and loving his church requires sacrifice. If he loved the church as a whole enough to redeem her, perhaps we should return that love by humbling ourselves, accepting the brokenness of the system while still voicing our concerns, disciplining our minds to stay focused, and continuing to praise and worship corporately.

With all that being said, keep reading in Acts and church doesn’t look anything like what we’ve made church into today. Church actually looked a whole lot like the small groups I talked about. And maybe that’s why we feel this groaning in our souls that something needs to change. House churches seem to be a lot more on-target with what was happening in Acts. Somehow, some way, along the way we got caught up in larger crowds, reaching more and more and more, etc. and those are great things – don’t get me wrong. But we lost sight of the importance of the small things and how to carry on the Great Commission in ways other than just bringing people to church. After all, Jesus came as a baby born to two individuals. He didn’t show up on the scene as a ruler of an entire country and govern 20,000 people at one time. He knew what we needed. He knew our hearts needed the small to understand the large.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and overhauling the entire system in one day seems a bit conquest-driven, so we go to church. And we be the church. We live out what we read the New Testament church to be in Acts, as well as the ministry that Jesus lived out. All too often we get confused and forget that church is a lifestyle. It’s hard to think like that, isn’t it? “Church is a lifestyle.” Nuh uh, it’s a place! That’s what our mind automatically computes, because we’ve grown so used to going to church instead of being the church. It doesn’t help that our minds are pairing a word with a visual representation (the actual building) that solidifies it even more so in our brains that church isn’t in me, but in front of me. It seems that our minds need further discipline than just paying attention.

With all of that said, that’s Hannahology. I’m probably totally wrong, but there it is nonetheless. Kudos to Chris Martin for bringing something this important up and being willing to be honest about where he’s at (follow his blog, by the way. You won’t be disappointed). I’m right there with you, brother. It gives us opportunities to speak up and not turn away from the Bride of Christ, but help her become more of what he seems to have meant her to be. Now, if we could just figure out how to go about getting it done… :)

Pray. Seek. Do.

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Daniel

Descriptive title, hm? :)

I read through the opening chapters of Daniel last night, and it made me change my view on worship a little bit. Typically I’m someone who isn’t much of a supporter of music in worship sounding like that of society today. In fact, when I hear worship that more or less resembles a parody of a popular song, I want to ralph. I’m not necessarily talking about parodies in worship, but this whole crappy singer-songwriter style. Let’s be real here folks. I’m talking about the people who dress like hobos, don’t comb their hair when they wake up, wear glasses that have no prescription, etc., and walk on stage with just an acoustic guitar. THAT style of music. Have you ever listened to the lyrics of those songs? Half of them are so dumb lyrically-speaking. Honestly. It proves how little our generation thinks. Just because words rhyme, doesn’t mean they should be used. I’m not being prejudiced against their music. I call it they way I see it. I described their appearance in honest detail and gave a pretty accurate assessment of the music. Now, back to worship…

This is showing up more and more in worship music. Artists are sounding exactly like the world. Quite frankly, some of the lyrics are just as ridiculous as a secular song. Not all, but some. Let’s leave the “some” out of this for the sake of the point I’m trying to make.

Let’s talk about Daniel. In chapter one, Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon) besieges Judah and orders Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility (young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace) and teach them the Babylonian language and literature. The king, in turn, gave them a daily amount of food and wine from his own table. They were to train for three years, and after that enter the king’s service. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the men chosen. Ashpenaz gave them new names – Belteshazzar (Daniel), Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah).

Daniel had resolved not to eat the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to eat this food. The word specifically used in the NIV is ‘defiled.’ This could have meant that the food was forbidden by Jewish law (such as pork) or because accepting the king’s food and drink was, really, the first step in following the king and relying on him. Daniel was in the middle of a culture that didn’t obey God’s laws at all, but he was still determined to follow them himself. After asking if he could skip out on eating the food, the official said he was afraid that Daniel would begin to look sickly in comparison to the other men. If this were to happen, the official would have been put to death. Daniel said to the chief official, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us (Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego)) nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” (Daniel 1:11-14)

As many of us know, at the end of the ten days they looked way better than the other guys who were piggin’ out on the king’s buffet. The Babylonians were trying to change the thinking of these men by giving them a Babylonian education, their loyalty by changing their names, and the lifestyle by changing their diet. Without compromising, Daniel found a way to live by God’s standards in a culture that had chosen to not honor God. He chose to negotiate instead of rebel. Daniel suggested an experiment. What we see is we may adjust to our culture as long as we do not compromise the commands of God.

For those of you who are like myself and don’t enjoy worship or even contemporary Christian music that heavily resembles music of our culture, perhaps we should all think again. If it isn’t blatantly going against God, then maybe we need to lighten up.

 

Now look at life. The Babylonians were doing everything possible to try to break down the Jews line of thinking. They were completely immersing them in Babylonian culture, yet four men were standing up to it and refusing to be swayed by their attempts. For me, this is also a story that enforces my desire to, IF and I mean IIIIIF I ever have children, put them in public schooling. Right now the only factor that would seriously sway my opinion is if the education at the closest public school wasn’t up to par. THEN I would homeschool. I refuse to keep my children (um..my ‘pretend’ children) from culture just because it doesn’t follow Christ. If my husband and I are doing our jobs as parents, then I shouldn’t have much fear for whether or not my children are going to stand up for Truth. Quite honestly, from what I see on this campus, MOST (not all) of the time I cannot believe the naivete of kids who were homeschooled for the entirety of their high school careers. Many of these kids don’t have a clue what problems the real world has. Many haven’t experienced spiritual warfare, family members who are addicts to something, homosexual friends, etc. They’ve been kept in a bubble. I will not do that to my kids. I’m so against parents who remove their children from a public school just because of the risk of sin. Eventually we have to cut the umbilical cord, folks. Why do parents fear the path their child will take? If they DISCIPLINED their children (as in, spanking. Yes, that’s completely acceptable, liberals. Get over it.), showed them adequate amounts of love, grace, and mercy, and also spoke the Truth and nothing BUT the Truth, then why worry? I have to wonder if homeschooling covers up the mistakes the parents made and not ones the child made.

Okay, I’ll get off the soapbox.

Back to my point. Get involved in culture and stand up for godly lifestyles and principles. Don’t compromise, but be sneaky. It’s possible to be a Christian in today’s world and not worry about whether or not King Nebuchadnezzar will kill you for it. ;) Unless you’re like me and have a tendency to speak your mind the minute something enters it. Plan on getting killed socially-speaking for that one. =P Or, hey, physically, depending on where you are! You never know!

 

Pray on, friends. :)
…especially for Japan.

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My 5-Year Wedding Anniversary

For the past two days, I’ve been pretty bogged down. Not in a depressed sort of mood, but times like right now, when the rest of the house is silent and all I’m doing is thinking about a lot, I’ve come to realize that I truly have not let go of some of the stupid decisions I’ve made in my life. I still beat myself up over them constantly. The past two days have been no exception. At one point last night when I was working, I literally became sick to my stomach. Guilt had never quite hit me like that before. I kept thinking about how I’ve ruined future experiences for myself.. How I’ve resisted God.. How I’ve run away as fast as I could.. How I’ve wasted SO much time.. It’s a lot for a person to carry around, y’know?

We’re all aware that God’s grace is enough to cover all of that, so please, no Sunday school answers needed. But after we’ve swiped the credit card of grace, we go on with our lives like nothing happened, but are we truly changed? I know a relationship with Christ isn’t about a feeling at all, but do we really have a heart-felt feeling of being forgiven? This has been my struggle ever since I started my walk with Christ; I never “feel” forgiven. I think I’ve finally figured out why..

The feeling of forgiveness isn’t meant to just come on its own. Hold on, stay with me. I know we don’t have to work for the grace of God, I know he gives it freely. However, I also believe that if you want that “feeling” of forgiveness, then you have to truly know the definition of repentance. Part of the definition of repent is “to turn,” as in, to turn in another direction. We can’t know forgiveness unless we turn from what we’re seeking forgiveness for. You can’t understand forgiveness until you learn to live in God’s grace. Forgiveness is far more than a feeling; it’s a release from being held captive by something that will consume and ruin your life. I’m starting to see that you can’t know forgiveness until you see the importance of living in God’s light and following his will. The importance can’t be seen unless you recognize that your life would literally be hell without his forgiveness and mercy. You’ve been trapped in Hell long enough; isn’t it time to walk away.. “to turn” away and walk the other direction and learn the depth of forgiveness?

I’ve started slipping back into some old habits again. I know the root of the issue, but my problem lies in the fact that I’m not sure how to fix it. Right now, I can do nothing about the true issue, but I CAN change how I deal with it.. It’s just very difficult right now, unfortunately. =/

A few mights ago, on July 23, it was an anniversary. The anniversary of my first re-baptism. (There’s actually been a third baptism in my life, but it’s more of a personal thing) My first year of CIY, I was re-baptized. I was baptized on Easter Sunday 2001, long before I understood the depth and importance of following Christ. I assumed that this just enabled me to take communion. Thus, I was re-baptized by a good friend at the time, Matt Shamp. I walked away with the assumption I knew what I was doing. I did, yes, but the understanding still wasn’t there, hence the third time. I can assure you the third time truly was the charm. Anyway. Back to the story. On July 23, you could say that was my re-committment to Christ. I’ve considered this the first of, hopefully, two weddings of my life. My 5 year anniversary with Christ. We’ve been “married” for 5 years. From the ups & downs, to me running away, to me ignoring him, to me coming full-circle and weeping at his feet for forgiveness. That’s what I did. What did he do? He waited patiently while I lived a sin-soaked life. He cried while I was crying because I was so numb to his love. He watched intently while I teetered on the edge of choosing our relationship against the world.. and furrowed his brow when I chose the world. He wept when I became so hardened to how to feel. He reached out to me when I was at the end of my robes begging for help, for something to change this. And finally, after May term, after nearly five long years of running and running fast, I was pushed over the edge and realized I’d missed out on five years of true love, true companionship, true relationship. It’s funny that some people consider the day they’re baptized their “spiritual birthday.” Indeed, it’s true.. birth into a new life.. but I like to think of it as something much more significant, something much deeper that truly displays Christ’s love for us.

The other night I did something a little out of character, but it was actually really good for me. I wrote a love note to my Savior. As I read back over it, I couldn’t help but notice how PERFECT of an example Christ is for today’s marriage. Obviously I already knew this, but it was one of those moments that it truly hits you as to how much men should be modeling themselves after Christ in order to be a godly husband. Granted, women, we need to model ourselves after Christ as well, but I was viewing this in the light of who I marry. I know I’ve been talking about marriage/relationships a lot lately and I feel as if it’s completely uncalled for almost, but I suppose it’s just been on my mind a lot lately, especially July 23. I was amazed at the close relation between what I’ve been looking for and what I’ve had the whole time! It also put sin in a whole new perspective. Every time I sin, I cheat against my Husband. Every time I choose the world over him, I choose promiscuity. Ouch. Dwell on that one for a while…

But there’s grace.. and repentance..

Lesson I’ve learned for the past week: Never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop searching the depths of Christ’ love for his bride, the church, and for his children.

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Victoria Donner

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