Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Passionate God - Notes from Crash I heart Jesus week 2

Personally.  Deeply.  Passionately.  Loved.


Most of us have heard the song, Jesus Loves Me.

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.

But there is a huge disconnect from thought or the concept of God loving me, to the deeply held belief--knowing in your soul, in your gut, that God loves me.

I really believe that thousands of people who would say that they follow Jesus, don't understand how much they are loved by God.  It's just a truth like the sky is blue.  It's there, and I accept it, but it doesn't really affect my life or my heart deeply.

God loves you so much that he knows how many hairs are on your head.  He knows what you are going to say before you say it.  He loves you with the passion of a lover, the compassion of a father, the interest of an artist in his masterpiece.  He loves you enough to pursue you in the middle of your brokenness and sin.  He loves you when you forget him.  He loves you when it hurts him to love you.

God has a vital and unending interest in you.

Exodus 34:14
You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.

Jealous:  qanna' hebrew not bearing any rival.   or ardent zeal

Last week my husband was in South Africa on a writing trip for his work.  He told me in passing that he went up a mountain to watch a sunset with an Italian girl.  And immediately I was like, wait...what?  You went where?  With who? And for how long?  And why?  

I love my husband.  My love for him demands exclusive rights to his heart and his time and his sunsets.  I don't want to share him with any other woman.  

God. Loves. You.  Like a jealous boyfriend or husband. He wants your heart.  Not just your acknowledgement of his existence, but your passionate affection given in response to his.   Here is a passage from Hosea where God talks about his affections and his intentions toward Israel. 

I will punish her for the days
    she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
    and went after her lovers,
    but me she forgot,”
declares the Lord.
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.  Hosea 2: 12-16

Is this a disinterested God?  Is this relationship impersonal?  Doesn't it remind you of a passage out of a romance novel?  How many of you have seen the Passion of the Christ?  I love that movie for a lot of reasons, but I love the title.  Jesus was thinking of you and me that night.  He looked ahead to the time he would create us and that night when they beat him, when they spit on him, when he was gasping for breath on the cross he was looking across time at you and me and loving us. 

Tattoos are pretty common among couples.  Some of them are cute.  Some of them are unfortunate.  Sometimes you get a tat prematurely in a relationship and have to get it removed or changed later haha.  Nick Cannon tattooed Mariah across his entire back, so that's going to need to be a lasting relationship. hahaha!  Guess what, ladies.  God loves you so deeply he has tattooed your name on his hands.

Isaiah 49:15-16

Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!
16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

For the next 20 minutes ladies, there is paper and pens on your table.  I want you to take Exodus 34:14 and journal on it.  Write down the verse.  What does it say?  What does it mean?  What does it mean to me?  How does it affect your heart to know that God is jealous for your affections?  Do you believe that God fiercely loves you? 

One of the things I've not only heard from people, I've felt it too, is the question about being known.  Fill in the blank is happening.  Does God not see how I'm suffering?  Does he not see me struggling?  Doesn't he know I'm lonely.  He's so quiet, doesn't he care? 

I've been watching the Bachelor this season, and what is the one thing he always tells the girls at the beginning?  I want you to stick around, accept the rose, blah blah blah so I can get to know you better.  There is a connection between being known and being loved.  It's like peanut butter and jelly. :)  You can't have one without the other.  What is it about being known that we need?  But we deeply do.  Let's talk about social media for a second.  How many of us have a facebook or an instagram account?  Or a twitter?  Or all three plus several others and a blog?  Hahaha!  I'm so guilty of this!  How many selfies do we post as the human race every day?  Why do we need to tell other people what we are having for lunch?  We want to be known.  We want to be acknowledged.  We want to be affirmed.  So just like Juan Pablo, the truth is that we don't really feel like we can love or be loved without also being known.  It's about intimacy.  It's about friendship.  At the bottom of it, it's about mattering and self worth.  Oh yes, sisters, Christ knows you.  

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139: 4-5

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10: 29-30

As i think about the amount of words I say a day, and the content of them, that verse is a little terrifying haha.  How much more deeply can we be known, ladies then to have our personal God know each word before we say it.  To take the time to count the hairs on our heads.  Hair is such a temporary thing.  I shed hair like a sheepdog.  The count on my head changes on a daily sometimes hourly basis.  My God is interested enough in me to keep updated on my changing hair count.  That not only blows my mind, it gives me security.  I am known.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the hilarious, the blond, the fears, the joys, the deep things in me.  I am known.  And you are known.  

And this is how long we will be passionately known and loved, girls.  Forever. God will never get bored.  Or tired.  Or give up on you and I.

The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you. Deut 33: 27

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Go ahead and underline the words in those verses that have to do with time.  What are they?  What does eternal mean?  What does everlasting mean?  What does steadfast mean?  What does unfailing mean? 

The heartbeat of our faith girls, is that we are loved.  We are loved passionately, deeply, intimately by a God who will stop at nothing to get our attention and save our lives.  The Bible says that Jesus is the expression of the glory of the Father.  The glory and the holiness and the power that makes the stars shine and the sun shine folded himself up into clay and dust to run like an arrow to a painful humiliating death and did it with joy.  He did it for love.  He loves us.  Oh.  How he loves us.  Love like this demands a response. 

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  Mark 12:30

God wants nothing less than every part of your being.  This Qanna God.  He desires you.  How do we respond?  What does this look like for you today?  If you aren't a part of his tribe, his people this is the time to choose him.  If you already belong to Jesus what does this love say to you today?  Be refreshed in it. As we sing this song ask God where in your heart, in your soul, in your mind and with your strength you can love him more.  



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Usually sometime between December and January I sit down and take an inventory of the past year and think out goals for the coming year.  Despite really wanting to, I've not been able to find time to do that yet.  I meant to at the Trust Home, but it didn't happen.  We were actually pretty busy from dawn to dusk. 

Before we left, Jesus had been taking me through Proverbs 31.  And I find myself drawn there again.

This year is crystalizing for me into one theme, be a woman of integrity.  Raise your game. 

What jumped out at me in reading this proverb, is how much of a business woman the Prov 31 woman is.  She buys, sells, creates, raises a family, blesses her husband, cares for the needy.  Has a good reputation in her home and her community. 

I want to be that woman. 

I can see areas in my life that I let slip last year.  So this call feels higher up and further in. 

Let me love Jesus more so that his character shines in everything I do, business and career, church and ministry, family and husband. 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:30-31
with dark branches lacing against a 
softly greyer sky
I'm in the mood for this quiet song
and you

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bacon, Nepal and Thank You.

Sunday mornings are for crispy bacon at Carrolls.

This particular morning Sunday was also for belly laughs.  The kind that start in your gut and uncontrollably jump out.  The kind that make the people around you roll their eyes or join in on the laugh.  The kind of laugh that you can have because you know your friend and you know why her sobbing over the story of a rescued seal waving goodbye is the funniest thing you've heard all week.

So over crispy bacon, and after a good seal story, the conversation turned to Nepal.  The little country next to India that, in my head, is colorful, dusty, and liberally sprinkled with huge snow covered mountain ranges.  I get to go there next week.  On a missions trip with my church.

And so honestly, because bacon brings out honesty, I told my friends the truth.

That I was wondering why I had signed up for this trip.  The timing was bad.   My finances were off.  I didn't feel like I was contributing anything to the trip or the team.

I felt, this morning, like a failure.  With a capital F.

Maybe it's a product of my childhood as an MK.  Maybe it's pride.  But for whatever reason, I have been used to earning my way.  If I travel for work or fun or missions, either I'm working or I have paid my own way.

Right before Christmas circumstances came up that drained the money I was going to use for the trip, and left me to start over.    Every plan I've had to raise money on my own through work has fallen through. 

So, this morning as I was telling my friends how much of a failure I feel in it, my dear friend Carter said, "well, maybe God wants you to receive this trip as a gift."  And went on to say that I should just be this time and not do.

That's hard for me, friends!  If I'm not serving or helping, I don't know what to do.  It feels like that awkward moment in pictures where you don't know what to do with your hands.  Or in a group of friends like you are the new girl.

But I think that is exactly what Jesus wants me to do this time.  Because he has provided for me. All of the sudden people have given anonymously to my trip, and the finances are taking care of themselves.

So I want to say thank you to each of you that gave and helped me out.  I want to hug your faces.  Thank you for teaching me that it's ok to receive sometimes.  Even though I hate it and immediately want to give back to each of you haha.

We leave on Saturday at the ungodly hour of 4 am, and I want to go quietly.

Ready to be still with Jesus and to receive. 

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