The Book and Testimony of Richard Wumberland

As part of our daily lessons, I teach my children church history. We often read about martyrs and theologians of the early church, but this past term, I decided a more modern perspective would be important as well.

So, as part of my daughter’s sixth grade study in church history, I have been reading the book: Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. It is the story of the persecution that took place in Romania during the communist regime. Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor during the 1950’s-1960’s when Romanian Christians were being persecuted by the Communist party. He writes not only bits of his years of being tortured in prison, but also of those believers he heard about or knew personally.

As the book reaches the second half, Pastor Wurmbrand discusses the lies of atheists and communists and points to various testimonies of those who have taken a public stand against those lies. Pastor Wurmbrand also speaks passionately about the need for Christian brothers and sisters in free countries to support their fellow believers who are being persecuted.

I have told several people, that even though I have read multitude of books throughout my lifetime, there are a few that change a person forever. The books, Tortured for Christ has done just that for me.

One of my favorite parts of the book is on pages 44-49 when Pastor Wurmbrand states that:

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us–so everyone was happy” (Wurmbrand, 2013 p.44).

As I read on, Pastor Wurbrand tells that often a Christian man would be interrrupetd as he was telling the prisoners about Christ, He would be severely beaten and brought back. When the damaged preacher was returned to the cell, he would adjust himself and ask his listeners, “‘Now, brethern, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?’ He continued his gospel messgae!” (Wurmbrand, 2013, p.45).

I find that ongoing event most convicting as I ask myself… how am I being persecuted for my Savior? How am I being beaten and bruised for Him? What sacrifices must I make on His behalf? The answer is a line with an empty space above it.

Yet, as I look at my comfortable recliner, with my Bible and prayer journal beside it, I am reminded that the disciplines of every-day must be my sacrifice. To be diligent to pray…pray…pray, to be faithful to God’s Word, to raise my children to also love their Savior, to sacrificially love my husband, to live at every cost to myself, to silence my prideful tongue, to discern truth and lies, to walk in grace and tenderness to others…this is my sacrifice. And though I may not be tormented by other people for my faith, I can strive to hold fast to my faith in a world where everything is created to pull me from it.

My cross, is to live out faith in a world of comfort, which is no less a challenging place to live out my faith in Christ than rotting in the basement of dirty prison cell. I may venture to add, that perhaps, crucifying myself is a far more difficult task in a free, wealthy, comfortable world than it might be if I bore the literal stripes upon my back from another’s whip.

I will muse again at another lesson I have learned from the book about how petty believers in the free-world can be. Richard Wurmbrand explains that the persecuted church makes churches in the free world seem void and meaningless. In his discussion of that topic, Wurmbrand states that:

“The Bible verses are not well known in many countries, because Bibles are not permitted. Besides, the preacher had most likely been in prison for years without a Bible…They are like Job who said that he would believe in God even if He would slay him. They are like Jesus who called God “Father,’ even when He was seemingly forsaken on the cross” (Yurmbrand, 2013, p. 89).

As an American Christian, with stacks of Bible’s on my shelves, apps on my phone bursting with biblical podcasts, and stacks of books written by believers from today back to hundreds of years ago, one would think, I have been blessed with much more opportunity to follow Christ. Yet, I find myself feeling like a very small believer in the light of a man with no Bible, no church, no Christian books or podcasts, laying on the floor of his prison cell for His beloved Savior.

I have been given so much perspective about what is and isn’t important. Believers in persecuted countries do not have the luxury to disagree with fellow Christians about worship styles, Bible versions, or whether or not a woman should hold the office of a deacon. Every cause we consider important in our Christian churches today, is something that is more of a distraction to the cause of Christ than a help to the precious gospel. I see so many believers self-promoting.

Believers agree on Christ and His grace poured out on their souls to save them. They hunger for fellowship with other believers and will meet together faithfully at the cost of imprisonment or death. Believers in the persecuted church make every American Christian look like a fake.

And truth be told, if I did not rest completely in Christ’s atonement on my behalf, despite the world of ease and sin where I live, I would seriously question the status of my own soul’s security in Christ. It is not by my work…but His, or I would be tempted to run to a country where I could suffer the most on His behalf and honor Him by my suffering.

It is here that my heart is pointed to the center of the matter. It is all about Him. And with every sweet testimony I read from Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, I can see the worthiness of Christ. Yes, He is worthy of every sufferer’s pain and every martyr’s death. Jesus is so insurmountably precious, and dear to us who love Him, that we cannot help, but pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Whether that cross be a chain in prison, or the chain of comfort. Both seek to drive our hearts further from Him, but may they only serve as something we bear to honor Him better.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.  -Isaac Watts

The Joy of the Daily Walk

I set my foot down firmly onto the paved trail. Eight smaller feet rushed on ahead of me in my steady pace. This was a new trail, and therefore a new adventure laid ahead.

It was a balmy December afternoon, just after a couple days of rain, and the clouds still had not figured out how to clear the sky above us.

The four little children I had with me were my own. Each had on a set of rubber boots, hoping to splash in puddles and in the creek beside the trail as we went along the trail.

As we walked there was much splashing, much giggling. The children rushed about the trail, sometimes walking, sometimes running up to the bend in the path and waiting for me and my oldest daughter to catch up.

My son found a vine, hanging from a tree and made a swing of it, which was amazing fun for some time. The sediment of the creek was like soft beech sand, and the children loved to feel their rubber boots get sucked into the sand as they sloshed along in the creek. We came to a brick wall, and instead of walking beside it, it provided opportunity for going up, balancing across, and coming down again…much more fun than the ordinary walking trail.

We call our daily outings, “adventures.” Every time we get out we discover new places, new sights in nature, and even meet some people.

When my children were very small, their endurance on such walks was limited, but now, that my youngest is past five, we find the average three mile walk or hike is very easy to accomplish.

I have chosen to incorporate daily walking into our lives for an insurmountable number of reasons. The most important reason is relationship.

Relationship building is a paramount theme in my life. It is so deeply biblical and is key in growing in love for God and for others. My relationships with God and with others is the only thing that carries on from this world to eternity, and it is vital that I focus efforts and discipline myself in ways that will help me improve all those relationships, as well as help others, such as my children, deepen their relationship with God, my husband and I, and each other.

So, one might ask how a walk cultivates relationship with God. There are many ways that our hearts can be drawn closer to God. Reading Scripture, praying, and spending time with fellow believers are important and very biblical ways to develop a closeness with God. Nature is one of the best sources of deepening our amazement and worship of our Creator.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Nature keeps us humble as we are reminded how small and how out-of-control we are in life. 

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.” Ps. 104:24-25
Nature puts our hearts in worship as we stand in awe of what God made.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:10
Nature teaches us about our God.
I also find walks are an excellent way to spend time with people. I am able to have conversations with my children as we go along the trail. My younger ones often leap and skip about, but my older girls like to hang onto mom and talk about stuff.
Walking improves attitudes, aids in brain activity and development, and helps build the natural habit of connecting with others that is so easily neglected in the materialistic, artificial relationships one might find themselves connected with.
I began daily walks for the enrichment of my soul and the building of relationships, but have found that more times than I can count, my daily walks have brought my heart to worship my great Creator, loving Father, and sustainer of my heart and soul.
Psalm 146: Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

When the King Comes

I took a walk today. It seems long walks are becoming more and more a part of my daily routine. Today, I took my youngest child with me, my little six-year-old boy.

Those who know little ones, know that children slip with ease between the complex and the simple. A child can ask questions that are deep, and meaningful in the same run on sentence of his or her light-hearted conversation. I guess to all inquisitive minds, one question is of no more value than another. Everything is meant to be discovered, known, and touched, whether it be the wonderful truths of God or the little freshwater clam from the shore of the lake.

To my little fellow, it was no different. As we started our walk, he wondered if there were any dangerous animals in the woods that might eat us while we are on our hike. I assured him that the largest animal in the woods was a fox. And foxes don’t harm humans. Foxes eat little animals like mice and rabbits. Then he  asked me if foxes will always eat bunnies.

My heart was warm to his sweet curiosity and the delight within my heart at the answer to his question.

“When the King comes,” I said “All things will be as they were created to be, before sin. Foxes and bunnies will be friends then, and foxes will not eat bunnies anymore.” (Is. 11:6)

It is a few days before Christmas, and with each Christmas season that passes, I find my heart spending more and more time pondering the coming of the King. I still think of Him as the baby born in Bethlehem a few thousand years ago, but I always let my mind move from Bethlehem to a glorious future day.  It will be a wonderful day when my dear, gentle King will return and reign over this broken earth, bringing healing in nature, in life, and in hearts, restoring all that was once broken to its original perfect state.

Oh how my heart longs, for the day when all will be right, when all will be as it was made to be. But what is wonderful for me, will be dreadful for all who have not crowned Christ King of their hearts.

It is my prayer that as Christmas reminds me of the birth of the King, I will also remember that He is the King of all, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). And for the brief time I have among those who do not claim Christ King, I can share His Kingdom with them and pray for their souls that they will be drawn into the great Kingdom of which I am deeply privileged to be a part.

A Redeemed Introvert

happy ethnic woman in apron standing at entrance of own cafe

I get everything about the need for personal space, the desire to re-charge, re-group, the distaste for large frivolous gatherings, and the hunger for more than small talk. I desire and understand those things.

Introversion has really become a popular phrase lately. I have had so many people tell me over the past few years how their introversion prevents them from enjoying social experiences.

There is so much information concerning introverts. Introversion is no new thing, but somehow, it seems that it must be something that everyone understands.

Most people I know claim to be introverts. I always thought I was an introvert. I like my personal space. I do not like parties and large groups of people. I feel out-of-place in the world, but comfortable at home.

As the knowledge of introversion has exploded this past decade, it seems that more and more, I find people are finding their identity in their introversion rather than in their redeemed person.

Why do introverts feel the need to tell anyone they are introverts? For one thing, it helps alleviate any feelings of social awkwardness if everyone knows where one is coming from. But it is also a matter of identity.

What does the Bible say about introverts? Nothing actually. Many people we read about in Scripture were probably introverts. Moses comes to mind, as does King David, but the point is that it is simply irrelevant. In Scripture, people are all described by Whom they find their identity in…whether they seek to do God’s will or not is crucial to where they have put their trust.

I want to beg believers to please set their introversion aside and simply seek to obey God.

God commands us to fellowship with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 pleads with believers, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This neglect to fellowship seems as though it is more acceptable if one is an introvert and not an extrovert. Scripture does not command only extroverts to fellowship, but all believers to gather and unite together faithfully. This “meeting together” is not just once a week but the result of a burning desire to walk with God. Acts 2:42 describes believers as devoting themselves to fellowship. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” May I be devoted so to Christ that I must surround myself constantly with those who also share that desire!

God commands believers to embrace hospitality. Hospitality is not just a gift, it is a command. It is recognized in Scripture that this may be difficult for some more than others, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” I Peter 4:8-9. The home is meant to be our tool to show love to others, not to be a safe-haven from others. I go into much deeper detail on the value of hospitality in articles like: “Ministering Through the Senses in the Home.” But it is truly vital that we evaluate the use of our home and love others more than our own self-comfort. Some are more gifted at hospitality than others, that is ok. All that is asked is that we show love to others by offering up our homes to be used by God with joy.

God commands us to Share the Gospel. As my walk with the Lord draws closer, I will say with joy, that He becomes pre-eminent in my heart in a way that cannot be contained. I want others to know Him and believe in Him. I truly believe that gospel sharing is simply an outpouring of our passionate love for Christ. It should be as natural as breathing air to speak of Him. I think people struggle sharing the gospel, not because of introversion, but from a simple lack of joy in their God. If our identity is in other things, like or roles in life, or character traits like introversion, then that is what we will share with others instead of Christ. Philemon 1:6 “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

God commands us to pray. When Jesus found himself alone, even then He was not alone… How often introverts use the reason that Jesus went away from the crowd and they need time away from people to do the same. When Jesus went off alone, it wasn’t because He was going to sit on the sofa and binge watch “Bridal Wars,” or spend a weekend hiking and reading books by a fire. In fact, Jesus never went off to be alone. He went off to be WITH…with His father. Being alone and resting is not ungodly, but it is not a reason to separate oneself from God and the things of God. Yes, rest is biblical as well, but rest is found in Christ, not in ourselves or in nature, or in time away from home. Rest for our souls is found in Christ. Our dear Savior welcomes us so gently into His presence, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Mt. 11:28-30.

Joy and worship are biblical. This is where art, nature, music, family and time alone come into play. Our joy in our God can pour out of our taking time to be in awe of what He has done and giving Him praise for creation and the beautiful things we see around us. This is not the place for self-indulgence… or is it? I must smile at the thought that if my indulgence is Christ, then yes, there is much room for worship in what I see and do. I can set up my easel for an afternoon and paint flowers with a heart of joyful worship to my Creator. As I discussed in an Tidings of a Leaping Heart, joy and worship in my Savior can, and should be a part of all I do and there is much room for what that entails. I Chronicles 16: 8-36 is too long to include, but most certainly worth reading and worshipping through as David repeats praises to our God. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods” 23-25.

Yes, God has made us each different, and with different natures, desires, skills, and spiritual gifts. Introversion can be such an easy, and understandable excuse for staying in our comfort zone and not doing what is right. Instead of identifying ourselves as introverts, it is much better to simply find our identity in Christ as a sinner saved by grace. As we learn to love Christ more, we will find obeying His commands becomes a joy, not a duty, because our hearts are full of love for Him and love for all those who love Him as dearly as we do!

Experiencing Birthing Pains with Joy

black textile

I know I labored for hours, writhing in the pain of each contraction leading up the he birth of my first child. But despite the deathly pain, I only remember one thing most about that day. The moment I saw my sweet little girl’s round head and the immense joy that filled my soul as I gathered her in my arms for the first time. Every ounce of discomfort was completely worth it.

I rarely read the news anymore, but for the sake of a quick knowledge, I took a quick glance today. As one could imagine, I left my reading of current events with a heavy heart. The pain in this earth is incredible. Wars, famines, unrest, oppressions, death, disease, destruction, hatred, violence, storms, earthquakes are a few of them endless and increasing troubles I see in the news.

Then I reflected on conversations with friends this past week. Every one I know has major pains in their lives. People are hurting, struggling, and in distress everywhere I look.

Is this how things have always been? Or is it getting worse? I think everyone on earth would agree that they have never seen the world in the incredible turmoil we have now. My heart is weary of all the disturbing news. I feel as though the earth is crumbling apart beneath my feet.

Then Romans 8, like a plumb bob, slides down right before my quaking heart, bringing my faltering heart back in sink with truth.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:18-25

I do remember contractions. Ouch! A wave of pain surges through the body, then I breathe a moment, as I prepare for the next pains. The pains surge closer and closer together, almost overlapping in intensity as the birth of my precious little one closes in.

Several thousand years ago, a birth was taking place in a small Bethlehem stable. Mary, in the throws of pain of labor, held the promise of the child in her mind. Struggling for that moment when the King would be born!

Just as a woman giving birth, the whole earth is in labor. Waves of pain are pulsing closer and closer together, hardly giving mankind a moment to catch his breath as the time of the King’s return approaches. Creation groans. Humans, who are without hope, lapse into fear and despair.

A smile spreads across my soul. That means ONE thing! My King is coming! My heart bursts with joy as I consider the joy set before me. The earth is preparing for the birth of a Kingdom! Yes, I know much more pain is ahead, but I also see the other end of this mess we call earth. I see glory, fulfillment, and a King sitting upon His throne, ruling the world in perfect harmony.

I suddenly see that I am living in one giant advent season…my heart ought to be in a constant state of rejoicing and hope of my coming King. The despair flees my soul as the brightness of hope soars in.

As I share my joyful ponderings with my husband, he gently reminds me of our Savior who walked through pain, His face set on the joy of our redemption.

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Romans 12:2

Pain must come before the joy of holding a new life. I can set that joy set before my heart and, see this troubled world through the eyes of expectant hope.

“Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16: 20-22

As I wait, watching the world writhe with pain, my heart is free to ache for those without hope, but it is not free to be troubled. My heart is free to long for an end to this troube, but not free to despair. My heart, is free to persevere in its calling, but not free to seek safety and flee earthly troubles. I am secure in the hope set before me and I can endure, with God’s ongoing grace, all that will take place in my time, with hope, joy, and wonder. My King is coming!

JOY TO THE WORLD

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing.
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

No more let sin and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness.
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

-Watts

Tidings of a Leaping Heart

I plugged the three, hundredth string of twinkling lights into the middle of the Christmas tree. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. My heart was full! Listening to songs of Christmas worship and pondering the magnificent and grace filled birth of my precious Savior! He has come! Suddenly the three-hundred twinkling lights I had spun on the tree didn’t seem like enough! How could I ever put enough lights on the tree to express my heartfelt joy of the Savior’s incarnation?

I have been told since I was a little girl that Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree or the food on the table. Christmas is not about the lights or the stockings. From stories like The Grinch by dear old Dr. Seuss to Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, the heart of Christmas is displayed as more dear than all the decorations, gifts, food, and traditions we enroll in our Christmas festivities.

But what is the heart of Christmas? Secular stories might leave that answer to the reader’s imagination. Generosity, benevolence, joy, and peace are often spoken of by both secular and Christian’s during the Christmas season. But is any one of those what fires our souls during the Christmas season?

My heart overflowing, as it meditates on the holy, righteous, merciful God, and Him who lowered Himself to my pitiful human level for the sake of my redemption. The fullness of time had come, what the earth groaned for had arrived. Healing of what was broken was about to begin.

The Christmas spirit is a leaping spirit; much like that of baby John. Luke 1:41 “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

My soul is a leaping soul as it ponders my Savior and His coming to earth. I resonate with John as my soul literally boils with joy! This is Whom my soul knows and loves! He came! What preciousness there is in setting aside a month of the year to worship my Savior as I ponder His incarnation!

God’s own beloved Son, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Phil. 2:6-7. This is not something to be taken for granted, pushed aside or downplayed! I am so grateful our culture takes the month of December to focus on that incredible, divine outpouring of God’s grace to us.

I added another string of lights to the tree….

How often I had allowed myself to feel guilty about our family’s extravagant celebration of Christmas…gifts, decorations, food…. But now, I feel no remorse. My leaping spirit is free. The celebration takes place in my heart, and if my extravagance in the celebration within finds its joy in lights, food, and gifts that serve as reminders and ongoing outpourings of my inadequate celebration of Christ’s birth. No one ought bear no remorse for that.

It is very freeing to simply worship in all things. I can do that with a tree loaded with a thousand lights, or with nothing but a small candle and some holly on my dining room table. I can worship Christ through the giving of gifts, expressing love toward others by giving extravagantly, or simplifying my gifts to home-made keepsakes.

Simplifying the Christmas season does not necessarily focus one’s attention on Christ any more than extravagance does. One either finds complete joy in Christ or she does not, regardless of if it is Christmas or not.

It is in my heart where worship takes place. And through that heart I can choose to keep Christmas in a simple manner or in a brilliant way. I can take joy in a simple string of lights on a tabletop tree, or in a ten foot tree decked with bulbs and lights.

What my heart has come to understand, is that there is no right or wrong in how a one celebrates Christmas. The point is that the joy of my Savior thrives within my heart all year, every year.

Ebenezer Scrooge proclaims at the realization that Christmas is not an event but a spirit of the heart: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” Charles Dickens

So may my heart leap at every thought of Christ’s incarnation, at Christmas, every day, and all year long! And may I not shut out the joy I have in my Savior.

“How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” Mary’s Magnificat: Luke 1:47

For more reflections about our Savior’s birth check out a past post: For the Keeping of Christmas.

I Will Lift My Eyes to the Mountains

This fall, I had the joy of traveling to see a dear friend in Colorado. As we ventured deep into the Rocky Mountains, my gaze was continually looking up in awe of the vast, rigid peeks around me.

Psalm 121:1 kept coming to my mind. As I thought of how the mountains around me had the power to force my eyes upward. Mountains make us look up!

As I looked up, my heart was drawn to the power and sustenance of the God Who created those mountains. And further in that thought, my heart rejoiced in the God of grace Who spared the human race as He drowned those mountains in a great flood.

Psalm 121, suddenly was rich in its message to my soul. It was as if the mountains themselves were calling to my soul in a windy, deep chorus, “Look up Oh, soul and remember Who has created you! remember Who has redeemed you! He is YOUR God!”

How could I not let my heart rest in the rich thoughts of My Great God of whom the mountains continually draw up my eyes?

I can resonate with David as he too was in awe of the Creator and keeper of His soul as he found his eyes beholding powerful, majestic mountains.

The God Who made these mountains is MY God! He made me, redeemed me, and eternally keeps my soul, without even a wink of sleep! There isn’t even a small thing that this Creator/Redeemer has not done and is continuing to do on my behalf!

I will lift my eyes to the mountains! From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever. Psalm. 121:1-8

Adulterous: Redeemed -Lessons from Hosea-Part 7

person wearing silver ring with white bandage on hand

THE REDEEMED ADULTEROUS

Hosea went to see the man with whom his wife was currently living. He then covered the cost of what his wife meant to that man-essentially the price of a slave. And Hosea took Gomer home to be his faithful wife for many days.

AndSo I purchased her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and a homer and a lethech of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.'” Hosea 3:2-3

In this passage is the description of the redemptive story of Israel that will come when they are drawn by God to believe the gospel. In Hosea 3, I also see the story of my redemption. 

Redemption is illustrated many times throughout Scripture. I see it in the book of Ruth as Boaz redeems a family by purchasing land. I see it in the book of Genesis, as Noah is chosen to redeem the human race through the ark. I see redemption in the parables of Jesus, like the parodical Son and lost sheep.

I see redemption in the chapter of my own soul as, I, a soul owned and consumed by sin, was redeemed by God’s grace. For in His mercy reached down and bought my soul from it’s possession of sin. And my Husband purchase of my soul was not fifteen shekels of silver and a lethech of barley, but with His own blood. “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” I Peter 1:18-19

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, Eph. 1:3-7

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Rom. 4:16

The Adulterous: Romanced -Lessons From Hosea-Part 6

person wearing silver ring with white bandage on hand

THE ADULTEROUS ROMANCED

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.” Rom 3:10-11

Left to my own demise, like a sheep, I would wander in this world in my own doomed way. I am utterly incapable to even seek after God for redemption. Unless He chooses to seek me out of the wasteland of life, I am doomed to a bitter end. It is as though my eyes are completely blind to God unless He choses to open them. 

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

I am not alone in my plight, all mankind suffers the same destiny if not rigorously perused by their loving Creator, Father. We are helpless to even seek out God. God’s wooing is the only source of hope for our souls to begin to desire to seek Him. 

But thankfully, God does woo. He gently romances the heart of a desperately, self-consumed sinner. And he proves to be an irresistible Lover, for no one whom He calls, is able to resist such affectionate kindness.

God is a gentleman, He does not force His hand to win the heart of His bride. No, He plans, He prepares, and He whispers. God needs His bride alone. If she is with her lovers and gods, she will be too distracted to see the emptiness of her soul. There must be a moment of desperation for the bride to run to her Bridegroom for deliverance. Note more on her wilderness experience…

So, God takes His bride away from her comforts, from her distractions, from all the silly things she calls important. He entices her to a place alone with Him. There she can clearly see how vain her pursuit of happiness has been. And there, God speaks to her heart, gently, affectionately, and with much mercy.

“And I will punish her for the feast days of Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” This is the romancing of God on a heart, that does not even desire to seek Him.

This is truly a breathtaking moment. The God, Creator, in His perfection and holiness, in his all-knowing wisdom and glory, does not  rush down upon his chosen bride with condemnation and fierceness as she so deserves. No, God speaks gently, tenderly, softly with his still, small voice. And so, the journey of redemption begins.

Adulterous: Shown Mercy -Lessons From Hosea-Part 5

person wearing silver ring with white bandage on hand

ADULTEROUS: SHOWN MERCY

Despite being a chosen bride, Gomer had yet to fall in love with her husband. She did not understand that Hosea was able to give her both satisfying love and provision for her needs, she had no need to roam for love. She was loved. She had no reason to search for provision. Provision was given her.

Gomer would go live with a man who was not her husband and say: “these are the wages which my lovers have given me” Hosea 2:6. She saw all she had as a her own doing. She sought love for money, and money for love. She thought both would fulfill her and she thought both were in her power to attain.

Israel is clearly illustrated through Gomer’s story. And even yet, the prophecy remains unfulfilled as many people of the Jewish race seek gods of their own making, and are blind to the complete satisfaction and joy to be found in Jesus. 

Looking in Gomer, I can see glimpses of my own heart. I belong to God, called by His name, yet “I will go after my lovers, who gave me my bread and my water, and my wool and my flax, and my oil and my drink” Hosea 1:10. I often seek all things that I think bring comfort and joy and satisfaction to my soul. I tend to use God’s gifts of money, home, family, marriage, friendships, and provision to sacrifice to the gods of my heart.

Yet all the time it was, and is Him. “And she did not know that is was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal” Hosea 2:8.

It is God who has provided for me. He has purchased me for His own and I am His. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:15-20

God is my Husband. It is God who has given me any cause for celebration and joy in this earth. It is God who has shown me mercy, when time after time I have praised and worshiped much, but not Him.

How easy it is to follow my own heart, to my own demise, instead of simply learning to fall in love with my Husband wherein the complete satisfaction and joy of all life resides.

What the adulterous deserves? Divorce. No one, even God, should have to put up with such unfaithfulness. But what does the gentle Husband do? He clothes. He shelters. He provides food. He even gives causes for celebration and festivities. And in all that, He shows the most mercy by staying His righteous hand from breaking His vow to His unfaithful bride.