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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Let’s get serious. This is my Big Girl Blog, after all.

When I was younger, and even into high school, I had a shameless faith. I remember being in Sunday school, singing simple songs about a Savior that was so big, so grand, and so great. I believed in the deepest parts of my four year old heart that that GIANT God intimately loved me, even more than my parents did, more than anyone did. I believed that He loved everyone and wanted everyone to love Him too. That belief led me to just NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT for years and years and years. I could not stop talking about my Jesus with friends and teachers and coworkers and everyone I met. I knew that my God was big enough to heal all their hurts, make their lives new and bright like mine, and make sure they knew how much they were loved by the God of the Universe!

This year, I have missed that girl, who does not forget her Maker and what He is capable of.

For a while now, I have been struggling in my faith. Maybe it’s just a part of getting older, being exposed to the darkness of the world, the darkness of my own soul through self-awareness, and laziness. Forget the ‘maybe,’ it’s all three of those things. Life has been a journey (and don’t get me wrong, my life has been a blessed one), but I strongly believe that everyone’s deepest hurt is just as deep as anyone else’s deepest hurt. My hurt is all I know, and I know that it has led me to sin in ways I never thought imaginable. My hurt has made me weak and I have become a person who does not run into that wonderful, big, GIANT, grand, loving God’s arms when I need strength.

Pause. Let me tell you a story.

The book of Daniel in the Bible has a recurring theme: God will always win.
That’s my paraphrase, anyway. This book is crazy. Give it a read sometime. Daniel is about Daniel’s experience as an exile of Judah who is forced to serve the king of Babylon from a young age. Through God’s favor and spirit in Daniel, Daniel gains favor over and over again with each new king by interpreting dreams. Daniel is faithful to his God. Through all obstacles, Daniel prays everyday to Yahweh, he gives all the glory to Yahweh, and he lets his God do work in this foreign land in which he is essentially enslaved. Over and over again, the Babylonian leaders are humbled through seeing Daniel’s God work. Many times, they say this about Daniel’s God:

“his dominion is an everlasting dominion, it will never be destroyed.”

Essentially, God wins.
And this is the God that I believe in: a God who would let some of his sons be exiled and enslaved in another country in order that He could be given glory in that country. A God who shows up when his sons are being thrown into a fiery furnace. They were not burned. A God who gives the prideful king of a foreign country a dream for one of his sons to interpret so that that nation might glorify him.

Over and over: “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, his kingdom will last forever.”

That’s the God that little Bridget believed in. That’s the God that little Bridget wanted her friends, family, and teachers to know. A God in control. A God that shows up. A God that saves. A God that would do anything to win you over. A God who is SO BIG that it’s terrifying, and yet still loves you.

I guess I haven’t stopped to remember my God and all the good he’s done for me already. My mighty God who is in control, and only has an adventure in store for me. Like Daniel, I hope that even if I am taken into a place I don’t want to go, that I could still be faithful to my Big God who is in control.

God is still God, no matter where I am. He still has a plan, even when I have no clue. He still knows what’s up, even when I feel at a total loss.

Did you ever consider that when you make life about you and your situation, that you’re greatly minimizing your world? When you make your life about Jesus, then the possibilities are endless! You can become a person who interprets dreams for the nations. You could become a tamer of lions. You could become someone who turns the world’s most powerful kings to the Lord Most High.

That is what I MUST do. I MUST let God be who He is! If I don’t, then my world shrinks to nothing. The possibilities end where my own capabilities end. Without God, I am nothing. Literally. I wouldn’t exist.

Just talking about this, reading the story of Daniel, and thinking back on who God is has already built up my faith some more. Lord, pour it down on me. I can’t get enough of you.

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As I am writing this, two of the boys that I’ve been watching for the past week came into the room with fake M-16s, to shoot me. So, I’m dead. I’m a dead woman writing this. Oh, death by nerf gun was also involved. Then, the boys proceeded to watch me type all of that. And roll their eyes.

I’ll be right back. It’s time to eat. Spaghetti.

I’m back. All three kids are with me. They say hi. Nick, Josh, and Angie. hi. <—-that was Angie.
Now I’m trying to get rid of them.

Ok. Done. Finally. All that say, I’ve been nannying for the past week, away from home, and will be, until the end of this week. We’ve travelled Arizona far and wide and would’ve gone farther if the children so chose. Nick, 12, and Angie, 9, are brother and sister, both of whom are quite witty and hilarious. For the most part, it’s monkey see monkey do after Nick. Even Josh, 11, will do exactly what Nick does. He’s more passive in nature, but also quite adventurous.

Today, the four of us travelled from the ranch in Pearce, AZ to the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee to take a mine tour. All week, on our road trips, the kids have been calling out radio station numbers as if there were one universal station for the hip-hop, rap, pop, and R&B hits. But, driving through southern AZ, there are about five solid stations: a Mexican music station (usually mariachi style), a country station, a classical station, a Today’s Hits station that always goes in and out of static, and then a conservative Christian station. When none of the others were working, I decided to listen to some postive encouraging Christian music. After a while, Angie turned to me and gave me a funny look.

“What is this?”she asked.

“A Christian music station.” I replied honestly.

She gave me another weird look. “You would do anything that has God in it!” She responded in an emphatic but sort of questioning tone.

I took a second and laughed to myself. “Yes! Yes I would! And you know why Angie?”

“Why?”

“Because God is the best thing!”

“He’s better than food?”

“Yeah. He made food.”

“He’s better than what you want most in the whole world?”

“I want him most!”

At that point, she was frustrated, and semi-unconvinced that he’s better than food, but that seriously was our conversation. It was comical, but so good at the same time! Because for the rest of the drive to Bisbee, I was thinking about that quality of God- that he’s the best.

I’ve written blog after blog after blog on this. God is numero uno, make him numero uno in your life. Because he really is the best! This truth was reiterated to me in another way today. Because of this nannying gig, I’ve missed 2 mondays of our small group Bible study on Hosea. So, I cancelled last week and this week I didn’t lead it. But, I read chapters 10 and 11 on my own.

And Oh, My, God. Literally.

In chapters 9 and 10 of Hosea, God speaks of how he’s going to destroy Israel because of their disobedience. Now, I know that sounds harsh, but it really looks a little something like this:
God gave Israel freedom.
Israel abused that freedom by serving foreign gods.
Which went hand in hand with lots of prostitution and idolatry.
Therefore, God tells them that their ways are going to destroy them.

Because who I know my God to be is the Provider. My source of Joy. The Most Beautiful Thing. And He wants to be all that. He yearns to be all that for each and every one of us. Sometimes though, doing things God’s way is a lot harder than copping out and getting instant gratification. So, in Hosea, God is mad, he’s tired of pouring out on the people he loves, but not being recognized, not being acknowledged, and not having a mutual relationship of love. Therefore, chapters 9 and 10 of Hosea consist of God explaining how Israel is going to fall.

Back to the Oh, My, God moment. Chapter 11. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hosea%2011&version=NIV (if you want to read it.)

Even though God is angry, even though he knows his people are “determined to turn their backs on him,” he can’t give them up! He overflows with compassion. He is determined to be known and determined to do His will. Because, well, he’s God.

But come on! Isn’t that wild?! Isn’t that crazy!? God says that he is not human in this chapter. He clearly makes the distinction between him and us. You know what I hear from this?

God: I do not run away.

He’ll never leave us! No matter how dumb we are. No matter how blatantly we reject him. No matter how far we try to run. He will not turn his back. You know, I heard this illustration almost a year ago: imagine yourself walking the road of life. When you’re right with God, he’s walking with you, right beside you, and sometimes ahead of you, sometimes both. When you’re not right with God, He’s right behind you, waiting for you to turn around so he can lead the way. I see that Guy in chapter 11 of Hosea. The Israelites are going their own way, doing their own thing even though God has blessed them abundantly. They have known God and how amazing he is.

He’s the best. He isn’t human! He loves like no one else. As someone who knows God and walks right with him, I have wanted to run away from relationships that don’t benefit me. I have been too tired and exhausted to love people in my life. Often, I am nothing like this God, who after being rejected and insulted and ignored, is ever determined to be known. No matter what, He is determined to give them provision his way.

If you haven’t, go back and click the link of Hosea 11. Wrathful God, my butt.

So yes, Angie. God is better than food. God is better than all the things I could ever want in the world.

He’s all I want.

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This summer, I’m leading a small group in Phoenix and we’re reading through the book of Hosea. We’ve already read chapters 1-4 and have learned a lot.

A little background: After Moses died, Joshua took over and God delivered His Chosen People, the Israelites, into the Promised Land. After Joshua dies, a string of leaders take over, but essentially, the Israelites split into two groups: Judah and Israel. Israel is completely corrupt by the time Hosea and the Lord hook up. Their leaders are not good spiritual leaders and Israel really doesn’t know God, the Big Guy who led them out of captivity. Consequently, they turn to other things for provision and worship. So, God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute and have children with her to see what it’s like to have someone be unfaithful to him. Throughout Hosea, Israel is compared to a prostitute.

In choosing Hosea before the summer started, I was interested mainly because Hosea chapter 2 is one of my favorites in the entire Bible. God speaks of Israel as a prostitute who he takes everything from because she was unfaithful to him. Then, even though she’s a wretch, he gives her everything back but even better. He establishes that they are going to have a relationship and that it will be intimate and that she will know him as her husband, and there will be much abundance. Little did I know that this summer’s study would be for me.

I am still unemployed at the moment. I have applied at 17 places. I need money for my trip to England in the fall. I will be studying abroad for three months. While I know this is something God has called me to, I do not have a plane ticket yet. Or any student loans. I know I have to meet my Provider half way and do something about it, but at the same time, I have to trust that he will give me the perfect and right thing. He will provide more than I can imagine. He not only provides money, but relationships and opportunities to grow as a person when he delivers us provision.

So I know that.

But I have to learn it. Actively learn it. Because God has taught me some crazy lessons in life so far. And he has taught me that he’s my provider, no one else. It’s frustrating. Because you’d think I would have peace right here right now about not having a job and everything I need for my trip to England in three months.

The Israelites in Hosea turn to idolatry to worship, the women become prostitutes for money, or cheat on their husbands for provision from their lovers. The men use the prostitutes all the time. They all drink too much. They go to everything else for everything else because they don’t know that God is right there waiting to pour out abundant provision on them.

I find more and more that I’m like the Israelites. I learn that my God loves like no one else. We’ve tackled some really hard questions like:
Would you forgive someone who cheated on you?
How do you cheat on God? (with what/who?)
What roles has God been in your life so far?
Who is God?

I expect that we’ll tackle many more. So far though, I know that it would take a lot for me to forgive someone who cheated on me. I’m not so sure I could do it. When I turn to other things than God to satisfy me, it’s usually myself, encouragement from my friends, or some sort of numbing. God has been so many things in my life. He has been my Provider, my Comforter, my Lover, my Joy, My Strength, my Passion, my Father, my best friend. And many more things. He wants to consume me. He is all of those things and more.

I guess what I am trying to say by this entire entry is that I am learning so much about God and who he is. It is very challenging and hard. I dare you to read Hosea yourselves! Or, come to my Bible Study! =+ Seriously though.

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In 1954, the Swanson Food Company made a good entrepreneurial move by creating the TV Dinner. Television was becoming a booming form of entertainment, and apparently freezers were becoming more common as well. In my opinion, this changed everything in American society forever. After TV dinners, the time that was taken to make a quality dinner was cut in half for a mediocre meal that you could eat in front of the Boob Tube.

While I’m glad for wonderful inventions that make the world go faster, like high-speed wifi, I hate the attitude this generation has about instant gratification. I was expressing this to a close friend over a year ago now and his was response was, “It’s all because of TV dinners.” After talking to my mother about it, I came to the conclusion that he’s right. In the last century, so many inventions have shaped society to want satisfaction and want it now. The microwave made TV dinners even faster. We can get information without so much as flipping a page in a book. We get impatient if is takes 15 seconds for a webpage to upload. We want love, but we want it easy, and we want it now.

Honestly, it’s unfair for me to say this about society today and America alone. We- humankind- have always been like this. We cannot wait for the good things to come. I mean, why should we?! Good things are exciting and wonderful! We shouldn’t be able to wait! But, we should wait.

Take, for example, the Israelites who just escaped Egyptian slavery with Moses. They are out in the desert and have been traveling. Moses goes up on Mount Sinai to talk with God for 40 days. (This is when he gets the 10 commandments.) When he comes back down, the Israelites are worshiping this golden calf that Aaron, Moses’ brother, made for them. See, those 40 days that Moses was gone for, the Israelites were growing restless. They wanted something to worship, something to live for. Apparently, the God who took them from slavery and parted a sea for them was not enough. So when Moses found them in this state of craze, partying, drinking and dancing around a golden statue, he was really upset. So upset that he breaks the tablets with the 10 commandments on them. Another time, the Israelites (and take into account that these are God’s chosen people) get sick of the manna, God’s dietary provision for them while in the desert. They wanted real food, and were so desperate for it that they say they wish they were slaves again to be eating fish and fruit.  Would you ever think of going back to slavery?

We’re a lot like the Israelites today. We are so unsatisfied and long for satisfaction. We want to be a part of something good, big, important and exciting! However, we just can’t wait. We take that deep longing for quality, for the best thing, and we try to fulfill it with much shallower things!  My favorite analogy to make is that it takes sweat, time, and hard work to build a muscular body so why wouldn’t it take time to get other things of quality? Like a home-cooked meal. That should take at least an hour, from preparation to finish. Lasagna always takes 45 minutes to bake, cheesecake has to solidify over night.

Even as someone who has written a blog entry all about Jesus, proclaiming that he is the core of all my desires, he can only fulfill my deepest longings, I still have a long way to go to be in that place I long to be. And I want to be at a place where I speak tenderly to God as if he were my lover. I want to have such a deep relationship with him, that I have peace and joy in every situation. I want to be so obsessed with Him, that it changes my life, and makes me never stop telling people about Him. Everyone wants to be in love. Deeply in love, a place where they can give their all, and be given everything in return. We as humans, were made to glorify and worship. Everyone has a god. But none of those gods, unless it’s Jesus, will make them feel whole.

In Acts 17, Paul says:

24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

The way Paul talks about God makes God soveriegn. Everything is because of God. He made it all for us so that maybe we’d reach out to him. He wants us so bad. He wants our worship and praise adoration because he wants to be loved back. He doesn’t need it. He wants it. And Paul makes a great point- God is different than all those other gods- he actually responds. He actually exists. He actually knows who you are and wants a relationship with you. Some people think this is bologna. But unless you know God, and have tried to know him, I wouldn’t shake my head.

Jesus is so awesome. Sometimes, his gratification is instant, but more than that, it’s lasting. And that’s my major point. It’s not a magic trick to be in love, a love like no other, with Jesus. It’s a relationship that we have to work at. And I know for some of you, that’s just not going to cut it right now.

But hear this. I was driving down the road listening to the radio tonight, and these song lyrics came on:
“Oh Tonight could last forever
We are one choice from together
You and me
Ya, you and me”
The song challenges the listener to take the chance now, to make the choice now to be a part of real love. I teared up because I know so many people that are living in selfishness, because it is so much easier to live a life of instant gratification. Whether it’s drinking or drugs or sex- things that can feel so good, they end up being really empty and pointless. I get to live this life everyday of such purpose and joy. I know real Truth. I know life and love. I don’t know a whole lot of people who don’t know Jesus and can say the same.

In John 4, Jesus meets the town slut. She’s outside the city wall, drawing water from a well at noonish, when no one else is going to be there. Jesus asks her to draw him some water, because he just walked a long way, and was tired. They are alone, he’s a man and she’s a Samaritan woman (and a sleazebag nonetheless), he doesn’t have a jug, but he still asks for water. She’s a little shocked, but the conversation quickly changes into Jesus telling her that he can give her water that will never make her thirsty again. He basically tells her, “I will quench your thirst, FOREVER.” WTF?!?!
I’m going to be honest here. This story is so important to me. For a few years now, I had such an aching heart because I wanted a man to quench my thirst for love. I wanted an intimate companion who wanted me passionately. And I had him all along! Jesus knows me. And he wants me. And he gives me love that will never go away, and never die.

So it kills me to see my peers and everyone around me copping out. Taking the easy route. The easy route does not lead you to the prize. Ever.

Perhaps I just succeeded in making you really hungry for a Michelina’s Wheels in Cheese. Truthfully, I want you to be hungry for the best meal. I really hope that your heart is aching for deep satisfaction. And I really hope that you reach out to God to get it.

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So here I am on a lovely Saturday, with no responsibility other than those that I chose to take, and I decided that writing a blog would be one of them. This week has been quite the week for me. For many a reason. But in class this week, God has been there. As I have mentioned before, I am taking a class on the works of John Milton. It is one of my favorite classes. Milton was a poet back in the day of England before America, when the Church was the State. Milton spent his entire life on literature and writing. He knew the classics and the Bible like the nearest and dearest thing to his heart. So, that’s what he writes on. His most famous work is Paradise Lost, an epic poem on the fall of man. So these subjects come up, about Jesus, God, Heaven, Hell, and predestination. I may be tackling a handful of things in this blog.

Our conversations in class can get pretty theological, but more than that, I think they get personal. Milton writes from his background, what he knows and what he thinks. He never claims to be 100% correct. Sometimes our discussions veer off into this place of discomfort, where my classmates are begging to know the truth. Seriously, one of my peers once raised her hand and asked our professor “what happens after I die?” As if he could answer that! Needless to say, this class for me, is quite exciting, but I seem to be the only one who speaks from my viewpoint. And that viewpoint comes from my wild bias that Jesus is the answer.

Here’s what I wanted to discuss though. When the handful of people in my class bring about these questions and viewpoints, they all agree with each other. Here’s something that they have commonly agreed upon: if God made us, knowing that we would screw up no matter what, and he made a way for us to screw up, then he is a jerk. Or, if not choosing him is the worse of two options, then God doesn’t really love us if he will punish us for not choosing him.
I hope either of those made sense.

So here’s the deal. And I’ve written about this before. God made us not because he needed us, but because he wanted us. Instead of making worshiping drones, he made us individuals that can accept or reject him at any time.

Consider this analogy. A rich father has two sons. He loves them both dearly and has given them everything they ever wanted their whole lives. Well, the younger son decides that he wants everything that his father was planning on giving him anyway, so he could leave. He was so over being a stay at home son. So, because his father loved him, he gave him his portion of the inheritance and let him leave. This son ended up squandering the money fast. Probably went to Vegas or something. When he got to the point where he was doing humiliated things just to eat, he decided that he would go back home, and tell his dad that he would work for him. But when he was still coming down the street, his dad saw him and came running to him, and embraced him crying. So, the dad threw a party in celebration of his son’s return! He wasn’t angry at all, just relieved to have his son back.

That’s how we are with God. He made us to be in his family, in a relationship with him. He has promised us life, and everything we need. All he wants is our lovin’. But we are not obligated to love him. We can pack up at anytime, when the lovin’ gets too hard, or we just don’t want to be around God, or most likely because we want to live for ourselves and no one else. No matter what we do, how far we go, how much we’ve hated on him, if we turn back around, he’ll come running down the road after us. God wants us to be with him. He wants to give us life, and throw us parties. He doesn’t want us to work for him, he wants us to LIVE WITH HIM.

Kids in my class say that instead of living in Eden, in perfection, in perfect relationship with God, with everything they could ever want and need, they’d rather be in the Land of Nod…out in the world, where it is a desert, but at least they made that decision. Eden doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no place you can travel in and out of. But, you can chose anytime to go be with God, or go be with yourself. I am under the strong opinion that the Land of Nod sucks compared to Eden. The Land of Nod is where Adam and Even went when they had to leave, in the story. The Land of Nod is probably a place where you dig through a dumpster behind a casino off the strip in Vegas. It’s an armpit. It’s death. There is no life there. Without God, there is no life.

What I hear in class is sad. A bunch of kids think ‘being good’ is enough. They think that if they are well off, don’t really hurt anyone, but still get to do what they want, therein lies life. That doesn’t leave me satisfied. I think people in my class raise these questions because they want so desperately to know that they’re okay. And when there’s an inkling telling them they’re not, they go into the Land of Justification. “God should be more like me. I mean, he’s cool and all. He can exist and all that, but I don’t want to love him. I don’t want to invest myself in him. I want to do what I want.” So cool. Be that way. God gives you the choice to do that. But he respects it by saying, you can’t be with me unless you want to. You can’t change your mind once you’re dead. God doesn’t want you to think he’s nice, or cool, or a good idea. He wants you to KNOW him, he wants you to want him. Because he wants you so badly.

It makes me ache that people are scared. They are scared that there could be something more than their complacent lives. People ask these questions because they want to find some truth. Bu nothing has told them yet that they are fine. I am going to say that they aren’t. It’s not okay at all to live in the Land of Justification and Lazy, where you try desperately to convince yourself that it’s all good. It’s not enough. Nothing on this earth will ever fill you up or make you ok or make you good enough. Except Jesus.

So think about this tree, that God told Adam and Eve to leave alone. Maybe that tree symbolized something greater. God says, “I am giving you the chance everyday to surrender to me.” Because, I can ask my entire Spanish class, “Quienes Crisitan aqui?” and more than half will raise their hands, but does that really mean that they surrender every day to the King of all Kings? I don’t everyday surrender. If we have the chance everyday to say “God, I am going to chose you over myself today,” then you’d think we’d take it. A day without God is a day without real life and real love.

It is easy to live your life for yourself. It’s a numb feel-good feeling. For a while. But everyone. And I mean everyone, has that ache inside them that this isn’t all there is. So people start justifying their lifestyles and they don’t try to grow and expand. That is so sad to me. Rethink what you think about God. The best of people on this earth were those who never lived for themselves. Take Mother Theresa for example. Not one of her days was lived for herself. And her life was filled with more love and joy and adventure than anyone. But it wasn’t easy. Not for a second.

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Hey everybody!

He’s alive! He’s so over sin and death! He wants to be with us forever!

I wanted to take the moment to CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Today is the day I celebrate everything in my life. Any good in my life is because my God is so good. He became man to get closer to me. He lived a perfect life as a sacrifice for me. He died on the cross to get rid of my bondage to sin. And he rose again because MY GOD CAN’T and WON’T STAY DEAD! He isn’t human. There’s new life for everyone! There’s an invitation into something new, fresh and exciting with Jesus. There’s a love like no else in Christ that will fill you up and you won’t get anywhere else! It’s the BEST thing. It’s THE thing. I promise.

So there.

It’s all about my love, Jesus. I’m happy.

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