Monday, July 29, 2013

The Groom and His Bride

Just had the privilege to see a mighty man of God going to visit his beloved in the hospital.  He had just been buzzed in the door to ICU, and was headed to see  his bride.  In his eyes and voice were two undeniable emotions.  The love for his sweet bride was piercing, even in just a few brief moments.  His heartache over her illness and desire to see her restored to health was just as transparent.

God immediately showed me a picture of Himself and His love and concern for HIS bride, the church.  His love for her is undeniable.  Who else would die for the bride but someone who was enamored with her and is willing to sacrifice whatever necessary for her to be His, to thrive, and to survive? He is passionate about her.  He knows what is in her best interest.  He tarries and hovers and cares for her.  He protects and guards her. 

 He is heart broken over her illnesses.  When she hurts he hurts. What illnesses you ask?  Apathy.  Prayerlessness.  Shut-ins.  Low blood flow.  Legalistic.  Callousness.  Lack of Biblical knowledge.  Lack of forgiveness.  The list goes on and on.  There are many illnesses the Bride of Christ is exposed and at risk of contracting.  His desire is to be her first love, and to have her so engrossed in His presence there is no room for illness to set in. 

The picture of the husband having to ask permission to get in the door to be present with his wife is a stark warning for us.  What has the Bride of Christ set up as deterrents for the Bridegroom being present in Her life?  We have limited His freedom to enter in.  We have set policies, procedures, and programs ahead of His presence.  We have legalism instead of liberty.  We cling to what we can see and what we can measure instead of what only He can do by being free to move about the body as He sees fit.  The Groom should not have to ask permission to be in the room with His Bride. 

I think this picture was so vivid to me for a few of reasons.  One, I missed being able to worship with my church family this week.  I love that I missed it.  I love that it is a priority.  I love most that I missed that special time with Him.  Personal worship is a priority, but there is just something special about the Bride coming together.  Secondly, I also admire this man I saw today greatly.  I love his heart.  It reminds me of Christ's heart for His people. Not a far leap for God to use that picture as a reminder of His heart which loves on an infinitely deeper level than we can fathom, even in Godly men.  And lastly, just life.  Sometimes God just needs to remind us of His heart for us, and His desire to be present.  What do I add to my congregation or the Bride as a whole?  Do I allow God to use me as a clean heart to enter into His presence or am I putting up roadblocks? Am I allowing Him to move freely or limiting His access?  Do I fully understand and convey to others His love, care and concern for His people or do I just spit out easy cut and dry rote with no passion for who they are in His eyes and His heart?

Lord, let me be a part of the Bride of Christ who desperately desires Your presence above all else.  Allow me to see the potential for illness.  Not for the sake of blame or negativity, but rather for alert, warning, and passionately seeking You in truth.  Let me be a part of the health of the body.  Help me also not add to roadblocks for Your presence.  Thank You for Your picture of love today through the life of one of Your servants.  Bless he and his bride as well.  Be present Lord! Let Your Bride function in health, truth, and beauty.  Love us, cover us, and protect us as we pursue You passionately.  Amen.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

From Crazy to Confirmation

We all know that God can accomplish His will when and how He chooses.  Just sometimes you want to look up and ask, "Really?"

Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege to be in Austin for the purpose of testifying before the House Committee for the pro-life bill.  If you have missed all that just get online and look at any social media site for #Stand4Life. 

I would say the following conversation could ONLY take place in Austin, but that would just be tempting the Lord, kind of like saying "always" or "never".

This conversation took place with a very angry and glassy eyed young man, who only spoke to me in a yelling, low tone raspy growl.

He came face to face with me and yelled, "HYPOCRIT!!"
I (stunned of course) asked what made him say that.
My response? I had nothing!  I simply said, "Yes I am.  Thank you."

Now, not having a conversation quite like this one before, my initial reaction, and the one I had for days was very simple...that guy was nuts!  It just kept playing in my mind.

A day or so later, and I would not use her name had she not put it out there, Abby Johnson, a well known Planned Parenthood worker saved and turned Pro-Life Advocate, posted on Facebook and Twitter that we "desperately need some LGBTQ pro-lifers at the Texas Capitol" this coming week.  It flew all over me.  We can not begin partnering purposely with one lifestyle of sin in order to stand against another one.  Scripture is clear on this in several places.  One is Mark 3:24, "If a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand." Or maybe the verse about being unequally yoked.  Or how about Amos 3:3 "Can two men walk together except they be agreed?"  I just found it stunning that she was calling for this partnership.  I would have thought so had she said lets go to the local drug hangout and recruit some blue shirts as well.  What stunned me most, was the many positive comments she got for being inclusive and reaching out.  I am all for reaching out and caring for people right where they are, but there is a vast difference in that and aligning yourself with them.  The ends do not always justify the means, and if we will but be obedient with the means we can trust God for the ends.

So all this is going through my mind.  The enemy of course wanting the sheer numbers of comments to cause me to question my stance.  Ever been there?

Enter a study on remaining pure, set apart, and holy.  Enter the Holy Word of God.  Enter mixed fabrics.  Leviticus 19:19 says, "You are to keep my statutes.  You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, NOR WEAR A GARMENT UPON YOU OF TWO KINDS OF MATERIAL MIXED TOGETHER."  Deuteronomy 22:11 states, "You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together."

Passed smooth out!

Did that crazy man know His scripture that well?  I'm guessing by the way he earlier had been chanting, "hail satan", he did not know Jesus, but was He knowingly speaking scripture?  I just had him pegged as one of those granola guys.

I have no idea, but what I do know is God spoke it to me, and it had nothing to do with polyester blends!  It had everything to do with laws of holiness.  In order to walk in holiness and in the full counsel of God there are just some things that you do not bind together.  Righteousness with unrighteousness, light with dark, spiritual with carnal, sin and holiness.  God had confirmed where He wanted me to be on this issue by speaking through someone who most likely did not know the spiritual ramifications of his hollering. God has spoken in many ways, and through many types of people throughout history, and this time it was Mr. Pro-Choice. 

 The point of all this is simple.  First,stand for God's truth, extend grace and truth to those on the other side, but do not bind yourself together with lifestyles of sin in order to get the results you think are supposed to happen.  God will take care of the details if we will but stand firm in His truth and His love. Second, even crazy conversations and happenings in our lives can be used of the Lord if we are looking for Him in everything.  Lastly,  speak life.  What if I had told that guy how ridiculous I thought he was and then proceeded to shut him up with my smart mouth? I would be full of crow by now.  Not because of his intelligence, but because I would have mentally and verbally shut that conversation down to the point that I would not hear from the Lord on it to help me confirm what was truth in another conversation.  

God doesn't show up like we think He should sometimes.  He doesn't fit our mold.  But if we let Him He will speak life, speak truth, and speak grace...even through crazy people.