25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

LORD,

Thank You so much for letting the world wait for You--letting us long for Emmanuel God with us. Thanks for choosing Mary who said yes even when the fear of the world pressed in on her. Thanks for coming in the dark of night, that we may know that there is no darkness You wont enter or muck too far beneath You--there are no lengths or bounds that will keep You from us in Your relentless pursuit of our hearts and souls. Thanks God that You sent word ahead to the shepherds and wise men; thanks that they were there watching and waiting and were ready to receive Your word when it was time. May we always be listening, waiting, and watching for You O God. And thanks for Jesus--the Word become flesh, the Prince of Peace, the Christ and Messiah--our Savior and Lord. It is overwhelming, the depths of Your love that You would humble Yourself on our behalf. But You did. And when God set His feet on this earth it.changed.everything. and nothing has ever been the same.

I pray that you reveal Youself that we might magnify who You are. God, birth something new in me, in our marriage, in Grant. Do a new thing in this city, this state, this region, this nation. We are waiting on You, looking to You. You are God and there is no other. Teach us the true meaning of Christmas--the birth of Christ--and in the words of Marty Barrett, "Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit and give birth to Christ everywhere we go." Amen!

21 December 2010

House::Marriage

Have you ever thought of the mystery of marriage? Exchanging vows before God and those witnesses is like buying a house without ever setting foot inside. You know what other people have said about the house (marriage). You know what God has said about the house (marriage). If you’re smart enough, you’ve read about it and most importantly listened and prayed—a lot! But you’re standing there at the altar, based on however much time together and some emotions that you feel (or once felt or hope to feel) and you make your stamp on forever, buying the house for eternity. For those of us who are married, we now know what an act of faith it was to say ‘I do,’ and yet it can’t be done any other way—no previews, no open-house, and certainly no brochure. We had no idea what we were getting into—which is not to minimize our beloved spouse, but meant to maximize our amorous God.

We have no idea what’s behind those walls, what dirt we drag in when we move in all our crap, what flaws will make the house (marriage) more charming, unique, and endearing… and which will be a painful reminder. We don’t know how many bedrooms (children) it has. We don’t know if it’s a fixer-upper to be coaxed into true beauty through much dent of elbow grease—the hard work that births character and confidence and hope—or if it’s move-in ready. If termites (lies) will threaten to slowly crumble the flooring out from under us. We don’t know if there will ever be any leaks in the plumbing (lines of communication) that will cause sudden bursts when things turn icy. We don’t know if the furnace (passion) will burn for years, or soon die out. We have no idea if the electricity—the Word of God that is a lamp unto our feet—will be turned off or neglected. Or if the gas—the spark that ignites creativity and inspiration—is low. Who knows what will be maintained and what will not be. Which ones we update on the surface, repainting every few years as our moods change. Which areas of the house (marriage) we need to take down to the studs... and which are better left standing. Which are crucial and which are place-holders; which are load-bearing or superficial.

And think of the foundation. What if we come to a place in our house (marriage), where we just need to dig deeper, and so we jack-hammer through layer after layer of hard stuff to get back down to the nourishing raw earth? Will we embrace the work as a time of learning together? Or will we resent it, never to return to the half-finished basement? Will we expect a maid to clean things up for us? What will we expect?

There are whole levels and wings to the house (marriage) that only time will uncover. There are entire seasons of life who’s doors can only be opened by walking through another; there are designs and textures and subtleties that point to the Architect that will miss our attention, while other details not meant to be dwelt upon seem to consume our efforts.

We will paint and change and live in and enjoy and clean up and clear out and start over and repurpose. We may take the whole dang thing to the ground level several times, reinventing ourselves and the house (marriage) in the process. We will mess up, but God will complete the good work He began and He will most definitely be glorified.

We buy the house and say yes to forever—not because of a feeling or a plan or an expectation or a ring or even a guy—but because there is One who’s seen all the things we can’t see, every design every intent every space—and He is trustworthy. Not to say that the feelings or plans or expectation or ring or boy is not important. Each of those is important. It’s just that we can't possibly rely on our own less-than-8%-utilized brain and fickle and fleeting emotion to even guess at what that house (marriage) has for us. We must trust some One who knew it before the dawn of time and that One is Jesus—not our brain, or our heart, or our betrothed, but our Beloved.

Simply put: when our eyes are on Jesus, marriage seems easier; when our eyes are on anything else, marriage seems more difficult. Christ is trustworthy even when we are not.

Looking back, God’s hand in every single detail of our lives and marriage thus far has been undeniably evident. I’m glad that Grant found me and we found each other. I’m glad that he chose me and on bended-knee offered me a ring and the promise of forever as the sun set behind the purple mountains at dusk on December 27, 2007. I’m glad that we stood on the altar before God and made a solemn vow to Him and to each other. But most importantly, perhaps, I am thankful beyond words that (whether we knew it or not) we were trusting (and continue to trust) in the One who knew all about what we knew nothing about. And focusing on Him makes the "house" seem brighter and our marriage more joyful. I have never been happier or more full of faith in things unseen.

20 December 2010

Utterly Thankful

I’m so utterly thankful that I’m married to Grant. I used to think that I chose wisely—I’d finally found ‘the one’ of my own accord and thank goodness he was cute and funny and brilliant and loved Jesus. I also thought that “I had arrived;” now that I was in love and married, two-thirds of the broken-hearted country songs no longer applied to me and that chapter defined by dating and not knowing and wondering and searching and praying was over! Whew! I’d found him and he’d found me. End of story. Cue the music.

What I did not realize, though I think we said it more than once the week of our wedding, was that God had really and truly brought the two of us together for a purpose, for His glory, and that—in His gracious goodness—He’d orchestrated the whole thing and played a much bigger role in ‘our’ story than we’d ever given thought or credit.

I believe it. It’s true: God brought us together. This is the three-strand cord that is not easily broken. This is the intimacy that knows not shame or self-awareness. This is the preview of things to come and this little slice of heaven is eternal.

My soul worships God more fully through our marriage.

Let me say that again. My soul worships God more fully through our marriage. God has ministered to my heart, taught me infinitely more, and revealed Himself to me in uncountable ways—all of which only possible through this: my specific and perfect two-becoming-one union with Grant. I love to see God work in and through our marriage. It delights me how much He has invested in us. What a faithful God we serve.

07 December 2010

James

"Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: 'Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.' God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life."--James 1:19-21 (msg)

what a beautiful and unforgettable picture of our life: a salvation-garden cultivated by The Gardener with Love, Living Water, and tender mercies that are new with each morning. Amen.

14 November 2010

the singer

If you're like me, you get just a little bit nervous every time someone sings for the first time in front of a large crowd. I worry for them that they might mess up, or forget the words, or miss the notes, and that the audience will not be as graceful or forgiving in their analysis of the performance. So at the beginning, I sometimes spend a good portion of the song praying that they not mess it up--when it's live, pretty much anything can happen.

So this singer starts her song, and it starts out low. I worry that she might not hit all the low notes, or that her words will get lost in the low pitch of her voice. She's not singing very loudly, so I worry that she's not very confident in herself, or her voice, or the choice of song. Her voice is shaky, so I worry that she's getting emotional and at any given second could burst into tears, or run off the stage, or not be able to finish the song in front of the crowd. I'm so nervous for her, because she's been on stage all night and has not yet sung lead on any song, and it seems she has had a shaky beginning.

Then comes the chorus. And she belts out with wild abandonment and perfect pitch a song she was created to sing. And it. is. glorious.

I mean it. I'm worshipping the Lord God Almighty because of how He's revealing Himself to me in her song and it hits me: the chorus is more powerful and more beautiful because of my perception of her beginning.

This shifted my world.

It gave me this wonderful picture of how much glory God gets in our stories--no matter our beginning, no matter other people's perception. It also made me realign my thoughts on perception. Perhaps there was more flaw in my perception of things than flaw in the things (or people) themselves. Powerful stuff.

I'm still working through all of this in my heart, but let this be an encouragement to you and a reminder to me: if you see someone step out in something new, and they seem to be kinda shaky, or they appear to have a rough start--just wait for God to show up in the chorus, because He will (because HE'S GOD) and when He does, it will be the most beautiful song you've ever heard, the clearest picture of a life lived in obedience, and the most powerful witness and worship you may ever experience. Be encouraged! God is working if we can but ask Him to shift our perspective and wait patiently for the best part.

reminder

Sometimes, to remember something we know so well that it's slipped into the comfortable recesses of 'everyday,' it takes a fresh perspective to serve as a reminder of something our soul knows deeply. This weekend was one such reminder.

I was walking around the campus of Alabama, which holds childhood memories, graduate school memories, and new ones being formed with Stahler (somehow old enough to be a student) and with Grant as my husband. It is a really wonderful place; it is endeared to me in that rare way that few places ever can be. I was walking around and was acutely aware of the life in it--the young, flirty co-eds on first-dates, blind-dates, great-dates, and horrible ones. There is such a pulse for social interaction, it's not only visible but tangible. It's exciting just being around it. And I wondered why that is--what is it that close proximity brings out in me this joie de vivre?

It's the excitement of not knowing.

So much of these students' lives are unwritten pages--where to go, do, live, be. Where will they work? Who will they marry? Will they have children? Will they live abroad or return to their same small town? Will they change the world? Be the next president? It's all completely unknown as of yet for them. This is exciting.

There is life in not knowing.

The flip side of this, of course, is the unparalleled intimacy, comfort, security, and solace found in knowing--there's life in that too. That kind of biblical knowing that comes only within the covenant of marriage and grows (somehow) beautifully wider and deeper with time. Yes, there's life in that; often time life comes from that--children, healing, growth, maturation, sanctification, wisdom, knowledge, experience. Both are good--and if I had to choose, I would DEFINITELY choose knowing, but we who think we know each other, need the reminder: we don't know everything about each other yet--and we can still surprise ourselves...!!

I think that, in learning more about God, we go through really exciting times of not knowing, really intimate times of knowing, and much in between. Sometimes the knowing hurts. Sometimes the not knowing hurts. Both are good for the soul.

It was just such a wonderful reminder, that as comfortable and safe and intimate and secure and sure we are of each other and ourselves and our marriage, there is so much more that we do not yet know and there is life and excitement in recognizing the ability we have to surprise--our pages are also unwritten...!

02 November 2010

On writing...

I really wish I had more time to write :( but I'm in a wonderfully new season of life that includes a lot more working, scheduling, playing meal-tag with Grant, and planning family nights with all 4 of us (L, G, Evan, and Georgia ;) so the writing gets put on the back burner... for now.

Things are really good, though; just because you haven't heard from me in an embarrassingly long time doesn't mean things aren't good. And just because I don't have endless hours a day to spend in prayer or pouring over commentary learning more about The Text, doesn't mean God's not teaching me--it's a whole new season of growth, different than any other. I love it. God is so good and so faithful.

I'm in a sort of review period with Him, where He's reminding me of all the things I've learned probably in the past 2 or 3 years--discipline, obedience, forgiveness, love, sacrifice without need for justification, generous giving--all topics I feel I've blogged openly about here ;) for those of you who've had the patience to drudge through my writing ;))

He's always doing a new thing--thank the Lord--and He's doing a new thing in me today. I'm having the incredible experience of seeing those around me catch on FIRE with the Love of God and the Knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Honestly, it's just a privilege to be near them as they discover new things about the character of the Lord, walk through the stories of the Old Testament and Acts, stand amazed as God shows up and proves Himself faithful, and humbly present their requests for MORE to God.

My cup runneth over. Amen.

08 October 2010

Catalyst

So much to say.....!!!!

Can't write much now. Still processing. But a few highlights were tweeted. My top 3 were Beth Moore, Francis Chan, and Craig Groeschel. Beth and FranChan pack so much power in the punch because they preach the Word of God; the scripture-heavy, revelation inspiring, depth revealing, overwhelming (in a GREAT way) talks they give leave you full to the brim and yet yearning for more.

Craig's talk today could be the pivotal conversation of our generation--explained and examined in a way that brought power and peace, might that comes from the Spirit and humility that comes from obedience, boldness that comes from the Hope we have in Jesus and a beseeching that comes only out of a heart ruled by love.

To say that it was powerful would be a gross understatement.

To say that it marked the end of something in the Church in America that will not be missed and the beginning of something that may never be replaced is closer to target.

Trust me. God is good. God is faithful. He is still sovereign. He is still speaking. and perhaps, most importantly: HE IS STILL MOVING IN THIS NATION.

Amen. [more to come!]

03 October 2010

Spiritual Warfare

Why don't we talk about this much in the church? If we believe that the world in which we live is a broken and fallen place where we need--daily--the Hope of salvation to survive, why don't we spend more time talking about the constant war that is raging and our place in it?

Jesus "was manifested for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil" (1 Jn 3:8b).
God "has rescued/delivered us from the kingdom of darkness" through Jesus (Col 1:13-14).
Jesus sought to prepare us for spiritual warfare and to stand with us against it (Mat 16:18b).
The power of the Holy Spirit is the only way we can wage war against evil (Mat 12:28-29).
The epistles of the New Testament speak continually about its importance and the authority we have (and responsibility we have) in Jesus' name (Jn 16:7,13-15).

Scriptural Basis:
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21 NKJV)
"...the battle is the LORD's..." (1 Samuel 17:47 KJV)
"…the enemy… is the devil…" (Matthew 13:37-39 KJV)
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." (John 10:10a NKJV)
"We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds...." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT)
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11)
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty power in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8b KJV)
"For He has recused us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins." (Colossians 1:13-14 NLT)
"But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like satan and plunder his goods? Only someOne even stronger--someOne who could tie him up and then plunder his house." (Jesus speaking, Mat 12:28-29 NLT).
"I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18 KJV)
"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries for tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:37-39 NLT)


All this to say: I've been experiencing a lot of spiritual warfare lately and it is not strange or unexpected--the devil is rather unimaginative, actually.

I spent the better part of yesterday in the ER because of an intense and paralyzing pain that was the result of a ruptured cyst on my left ovary (we later discovered). I have never felt anything like it. It was a complex cyst which means is was really big (about 2 inches) and had other things in it than just water liquid. If my ovary was a football, this would have been an explosive wound that was at least the length of the laces and twice as wide; and what came out when it burst was not simply water--hence the intense and immediate pain.

This is not a coincidence.
1. One week ago we added a member to our family--Evan. So satan attacks my ovaries (ability to become a mother to many).
2. The day I spent in the ER was the day we were supposed to meet my parents in Chattanooga so that they could meet Evan and welcome him into our larger family. So satan tried to mess up that plan and deny Evan that connection of love.
3. The issue of getting pregnant or not has been a hot topic with me and grant for almost a year. So satan wanted to come in and speak death over our future ability to have kids.

BUT GOD SPEAKS LIFE.

God wants to extend the boarders of our tent with children (Isa 54:2). God wants Evan to feel fully accepted into a loving family (Mark 1:11). God wants for me and Grant to honor His command to open our hearts and homes to His kids--orphans like Evan (James 1:27).

Spiritual warfare is not as "mystical" as it sometimes seems.
It is real.
It is spiritual.
It is both. But God has already won, the victory is His in Jesus Christ. and His plans (for me, for us, for Evan, for my ovaries and health) CANNOT be thwarted (Job 42:2). Ever (Deut 31:6,8).

God speaks LIFE (Gen 1:27-28).

So when satan comes against us when we are simply being obedient to God, we have Hope and do not lose heart (2 Cor 4:1). I know exactly what satan's trying to do; problem for him is: we love, trust, and belong TO JESUS. and I will praise Him forever. Amen!

""Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who has many sons with her husband," says the LORD." (Isa 54:1).

22 September 2010

chchchchchanges!

friends and family,

We have so much to blog about. We've been to Italy. We've travelled with some REALLY great people. We took some really great pics. So so much.

But for now, what's more important than blogging about any of that is telling you about a new addition to our family--moving in Friday!

VERY long story short--through a series of emails that found their way to my boss, Grant and I heard about a functional orphan who needed a place to live for a year or so. Without revealing too much of his story, he's been living with his aunt and uncle since his dad died two years ago, and the living situation has been... let's say, less than ideal.

He LOVES the Lord, is smart with good grades, and has a grateful heart. When he could be rebellious, angry, and closed-off, he is respectful, sincere, and open. That's what happens when Jesus steps in--our God is mighty to save. Praise the Lord. I know it will be tough at times and a bit different for me and Grant, but my goodness we're excited about him moving in!!

We said 'yes' before we had met him (which was Monday) and I have to tell you: God created a whole room of love in our hearts for him. This is one of those things that you 'think' you're helping someone else, but really that other person is showing you more of Jesus than you could've ever imagined.

We are just happy to have the opportunity to respond to this situation in obedience. This kid is AWESOME! We're glad to share our life and love with him. You can pray for him by name--Evan. He's moving in Friday!!!!!!!!!
[we're a LITTLE EXCITED if you can't tell ;)]

We're certainly not the only ones doing this. Many of our friends are fostering kids, adopting, and making room in their homes and hearts for a new generation of God's children. We're just glad to be a part of a community of believers who take God at His word and react in obedience. We are surrounded by such a cloud of witness. Thanks, God. We're certainly not celebrating the road that brought him here, but Lord, we are ECSTATIC that we are privileged enough to be in his life and create a home and family for him with us. Amen!

02 September 2010

follow along

So. Here's our very basic itinerary while we're in Italy. You can follow along if you want and know what city/ what sites we're seeing each and every day! Pics will be posted asap upon our return.

BUON VIAGGIO!


9/4
Check into Hotel
Get Roma Pass @PIT Termini
→(collection code: U43SL7UV)
Angel’s Tour—Vatican 11:00 (9/4)
Lunch
Castle de San Angelo
Dinner
Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps

9/5
Colloseo, Forum
Capitoline Hill—Lunch
Walk around—Enjoy!
Dinner

9/6
Final things in Rome
Check out by 3:00pm
Train to Florence—Explore!

9/7
Day Trip: Cinque Terre
[Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia]

9/8
Duomo, Bell Tower, Baptistry
Lunch
San Lorenzo Market (Leather Market)
Galleria del’ Accademmia (The David) 1:30pm
Hospital of the Innocents

9/9
Piazza del Republica
Loggia del Mercato Nuovo (the Boar)
Signoria Square, Pallazo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio
Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
Lunch
Uffizi Galleria (1:30pm)
Santa Croce
Dinner
Piazza crawl

9/10
Check out
Santa Maria Novella
(Other: Orsanmichelle, Medici Chapel, Brancacchi Chapel)
Train to Venice—Explore!

9/11
San Marco Square, Bell Tower
Rialto Bridge
Grand Canal Tour—water taxi
Lido Beach
Doge’s Palace/ Bridge of Sighs
Gondola
Murano (Venician glass)
Train to Rome—Explore!

9/12
Rome—Home!
Unpack, unwind, upload pictures!

28 August 2010

squatters

Our dearly beloved... let's call him Penji... has left his wallet at Ryan's house.

Ok, so he'll have to get back to Ryan's to get his wallet...

...but Ryan is in Athens for the day... Maybe Keef will be there around 5:00 to let him in.

Ok, so Penji can wait, then get in his car and drive down to meet Keef at Ryan's to get his wallet.

...but Penji left the keys to his car in Brody's truck...

...and Brody left Atlanta and is now in Athens...

...so Penji picks up his phone to call his girlfriend in Athens to get his keys from Brody and bring them to him in Atlanta...

...but his phone's dying dying dead... Where's his phone charger? in his car--right outside--without keys he can only look at it...

...so he calls his girlfriend, gets her vm and then he checks twitter: she's getting her hair cut... no response....

...so maybe if his girlfriend calls my phone after her hair cut but before Grant and I leave, Penji will get her to get his keys from Brody and we can take him to get his wallet with Keef from Ryan's house and she can bring him back to get his car at our house... and then they can go to Athens.

This does not happen to normal people... except our friend Benji (oops, told on you ;) who swears that he "is a grown up some of the time"

We love our Benji and will take him even if he's a mess ;)

ps. Benj: this was too funny not to share. we love you very very much and hope you can stay with us as long as you want/ need to. I mentioned that you could just use our spare key... Grant said you might lose it....

23 August 2010

things about me in threes

Three names I go by:
1. Luce (if we're close)
2. HunnyBunny (if you're grant)
3. hey you ;) (if you're most everyone else)

Three places I've lived:
1. Athens, Georgia (the place of all things good :)
2. Antelope, Oregon--that summer was a slice of heaven!
3. Fairbanks, Alaska

Three places I've worked:
1. Fortson's Clothier, Athens, Georgia
2. YoungLife Wildhorse Canyon
3. Lost Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Three TV shows I love to watch:
1. Dexter
2. Weeds
3. Sex and the City
... pray for me after that list ;)

Three movies I would watch again:
1. Sherlock Holmes
2. Across the Universe
3. Inception
Marley and Me--how can I not pick a dog movie??? The Holiday--how can I not pick a date movie???

Three books I would recommend:
1. The God you can Know
2. The Agony and the Ecstasy
3. Pillars of the Earth
Crazy Love, A Light in August, Jane Eyre, Twilight, On Writing, Straight Man... the list goes on... did you really expect me to limit this to 3???

Three special places I have been:
1. The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
2. Liechtenstein
3. Frienze, Italy

Three things I love to eat:
1. Italian
2. chips.and.que.so.
3. Grant's wings on the grill. wow.

Three things I am looking forward to:
1. ITALY!!-11 days and counting!!!!!!
2. getting pregnant (really looking forward to that whole season of life and lots of little children all around us)
3. prayer every Thursday--seriously, the icing on my week's cake.

copy, paste, rinse, and repeat!
[I broke some rules. free yourself to do the same!]

21 August 2010

prayer

After today, I can honestly say that my mind has been blown away with prayer.

I am completely overwhelmed--in a wonderful way--with what God has in the way of communing with us through prayer.

I still haven't even processed it all yet, but prayer today at Grace Midtown was transformational.

praise.the.Lord.

!!!!!

19 July 2010

Perspective

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Sir Francis Drake

15 July 2010

One Month

I can't BELIEVE it's been a month since I last posted!

Shame on me!

I don't have much time to update, so I'll just give you the basics of everyday life with us.

Tomorrow I'm picking up Mary Brantley and we're road-tripping to B'ham for Laura's bachelorette weekend! Should be much fun and great laughter for sure!

Saturday night I'm sneaking off to Katherine's wedding in Huntsville--should be gorgeous and fabulous!--where I will promptly join my parents on the dance floor, only to return to B'ham just in time for the lingerie part of the weekend.

MB and I will head back to ATL Sunday just in time for small group and a late night service at Grace Midtown--our new church home (potentially!).

Monday-Tuesday Grant leaves for Charlotte for work (sad. I have to stay here and work and miss out on seeing Grant for two days and Hannah, too).

Tuesday night the girls of our small group have dinner plans together! and we'll get to find out the sex of Amanda's baby--the first to be born in our group!! hip hip hooray!!

Thursday night I get to sit in on my very first board meeting with NGM--this is serious ;) I will sit quietly in the corner, take notes, and make intelligent sounding grunts while readjusting my glasses to pretend I'm adult enough to partake. Board Meeting. Big Deal.

Friday-Sunday after that, Grant and I are headed to South Carolina to play with the Greenville Duggars at the lake. It's been too long and we're looking forward to seeing them.

ps. Have I mentioned that 7 weeks from tmrw I will be on a plane with my Love (and MB and Lee) to ITALY???!!! Does it get much better than this???

That's all for now. Will write again soon.

[oh, and one last thing; speaking of writing again soon: Grandmama and I have become pen pals, which is awesome. She writes the funniest things and I enjoy her in a whole new way now.]

Signing off!

15 June 2010

F. Buechner

"It is just where God seems most helpless that He is most strong, and just where we least expect Him that He comes most fully."

Amen.

14 June 2010

D.A. Carson

"People do not, will not, drift toward holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith and delight in the Lord.

Instead, we drift toward compromise and call it 'tolerance,'

toward disobedience and call it 'freedom,'

toward superstition and call it 'faith.'

We cherish the lost discipline of self-control and call it 'relaxation.'

We slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism.

We slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves that we have been liberated."

Amen

to this

and this

and this.

Happy Monday!

12 June 2010

I am embarrassed about this post...

... for several reasons.

1. I have a new favorite movie...King Kong.
[I can hear you laughing at me, you know]
But it really is a ridiculously good film with a stellar cast--Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, and Colin Hanks to name a few.

2. I now have a celebrity crush on Adrien Brody [I figure it's time to give Ryan Reynolds a break]. This is painfully embarrassing for me because I had (previous to seeing him in this film) thought of him as awkward, looking either...

always on the brink of tears...



or always on the brink of insanity--per his character in The Villiage...




or slightly anemic...




but in light of this pic and his performance in King Kong, I confess to have been completely wrong in my judgment of Adrien.



The secret is this: he is un-freakin-believably talented as an actor in motion... his still shot pics can be misleading--well some of them.

3. i love watching movies in the Cardio Theater Room at the gym--which is how I happened upon Adrien today and my whole opinion of him shifted in an instant.

4. The way that he kisses Naomi Watts in a scene in King Kong makes me blush. How embarrassing is this: here I am, going to town on the elliptical--nothing new here--and all of the sudden the movie gets serious, even ominous, and I blush at a kiss and am forced to avert my eyes!

NOTE: For those of you who've spent any amount of time in Europe/ around European men, you'll know what I'm talking about--the rest of you: book a trip to Europe immediately.

Adrien has this very European way--looking at her, holding her gaze, pausing, tentatively, and then taking her--of both longing for her and yet passionately having her at the same time... and this is just a kiss, people. No love scene. Nothing scandalous. But the intensity of it, the simultaneous reverence and fearlessness, his awe and acknowledgement of her femininity and yet his unreserved and bold masculinity--well, it's overwhelming... in a good way! And in that moment, there's this undeniable sense that thing will never be the same again. (whatta kiss!)

To be able to communicate all that in a very simple expression for a few seconds on a screen... well, it made me blush.

Now where the heck is my husband... I need to get my arms around him immediately. ;)

07 June 2010

great news-surgery results

As many of you know, I recently had a quick, no-nonsense "procedure" to remove some melanoma from my chest area.

When we got the first pathology report back--from a sample scrape in a dermatologist's office in Huntsville--the diagnosis was "a mild case of pre-cancerous melanoma" meaning that there were melanoma cells and that it was "medically necessary" to remove them before they turned cancerous and spread into full-blown skin cancer.

I had a plastic surgeon at Emory remove the "atypical nevus" in her office and then got the stitches out and path report back on Friday.

GREAT NEWS!

All the boarders of the removed biopsy were clear--meaning no melanoma cells present or spread--AND, there were NO MELANOMA CELLS AT ALL in the removed section!!!

This is great news because 1) I'm in the clear (was never worried about that part), and 2) we specifically prayed for complete healing and that (if surgery was necessary, which turned out, it was) the surgery would only prove that God had completely healed it from the inside out--which the results did!!

Grant and I have marveled at the list of things God has done for us this past year. And if He never blessed us again, still we would say, "blessed be the Name of the Lord!" but it sure is fun watching Him do what only He can do. Amen!

ps. my scar is healing beautifully!

31 May 2010

continuation...

This year, the "anniversary post" has run into 3 (and may run into even 4) posts. Enjoy ;)

So Sunday we got up and headed out to the Harpeth River. [Side Note: we listened to a Matt Chandler podcast on Colossians...AMAZING. He is quickly becoming one of my favorites as he voices what I think no one else in the American church will.] We canoed 14 miles of glorious river--me and Grant, Zach and Steph, Matt and Benji, and 5 other girls in 2 canoes (friends of Keef's). It was fun to haphazardly join up with one or two other canoes at a time and float down the river together. It was both incredible to imagine exploring the area like a native and yet unfathomable to see to what level the water had risen and to what extent some of the damage still remained due to the floods in Nashville--awe-inspiring and fear-inducing at the same time. pretty awesome.

One of the girls' canoes flipped at a little rapid at a bend in the river and Grant (my hero) saved them. It was fun to work as a team and help them quickly figure out tipping, draining, and resurfacing the canoe--a little camp counselor came out in me and we almost broke out into song (almost). Alice the Camel. Anyone? Anyone. ...Bueller.

Anyway, we both love nature so much and the added bonus of friendship and quality time in such incredible surroundings did wonderful things for our hearts.

After we canoed (and conquered) the river, we headed back to Matt and Benji's to cook out: chicken and corn on the grill, baked beans and fried green tomatoes (covered with pimento cheese--amazing!) in the oven. Quite a delicious treat. This weekend was as much about food as it was about friendship, as it turns out. We stayed until after 2 then rode back the four of us to Zach and Stephs--this time we did break out in song... well, Steph and I kinda did in a tired state of delirium in an attempt to keep each other up as the boys slept in the back seat... what the heck, I think we sounded great.

Today was another embarrassment of riches in the way of food: pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bacon for breakfast (thanks, Zach!) and home-made wings on the grill with fries and onion rings--ridiculously good. Steph and I saw Sex and the City 2 (that's a whole 'nother post, people. very very good.) and the guys watch the Braves. It was almost 5 before we realized that we should probably start to pack things up and head home.

All in all and excellent weekend and certainly a nice celebration of the 2 best years of my life: food, friends (who have become family), and fun. Thank you, God!

30 May 2010

the road goes on forever and the party never ends

"the road goes on for ever and the party never ends," is a line from one of my favorite Robert Earl Keen songs; not, perhaps, a motto by which to structure your life, but certainly a phrase to capture last night!

The boys played golf and the girls just got to hang out (yay!!) then we headed over to Matt and Benji's to grill out--hotdogs and beer--and to see their new diggs. Benji had just painted the den a lovely shade of navy and we were the first to inspect it: A+.

Then we headed over to Greer stadium to watch the Sounds--Nashville's minor league team--we were in for a treat! The game was awesome. The announcers had games to play and family-fun activities every inning.

The Sounds won in a bottom-of-the-9th homer hit outta the park!! Which was ridiculous. Then they had one final contest where Cary and Janice were asked a series of questions... that turned into an all out marriage proposal! Which was ridiculous (and amazing). Then we sat for a 20 minute fire-work show that was nothing short of spectacular. Which was ridiculous. Then on our way out, the boys spotted a "stall wall" message in the bathroom that had them laughing all night:

"Badass for hire. Call Whoop Ass Wayne at ............"

Which then turned into a night of "What Would Whoop Ass Wayne do?" and "I wish my name were Wayne because..."

Which was ridiculous.

Then we headed downtown (never made it to Tootsies ;) but ended up having midnight burgers and seeing a sweet band at Paradise Park. They played a little of everything, which made for a fun night--until a "Soon-to-be-Mrs.Bennet" hit on Grant (grrrr). What is it with Batchelorette parties and Nashville? We saw at least 10--and I'm not even kidding. We stayed and danced then headed home. It was pretty much AWESOME.

Today we're doing church (a pod cast in the car on the way to the river), canoeing down a nearby river, picnicing on the banks, cooking out again (beer chicken and fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese on top!) and hanging out.

I can't wait to see what funny stories come next.

The road goes on forever and the party never ends.

27 May 2010

2 Years toward Forever

Monday, May 31st will be our two year anniversary! And what a wonderful two years it has been!

I posted last year about my thoughts on life and marriage after one year of wedded bliss and am happy to say it only gets sweeter with time.

How is it that--when our love is an ocean, deep and wide, with no limits in sight--somehow, and only with God's grace, that ocean just gets deeper and wider?

I don't understand it but I love the way my heart swells when it does.

Instead of a list, this year I have one thing on my heart for marriage (this one thing, when I'm aware of it in the midst of life, has the potential to shift my perspective and resolve all types of conflict):


And in the end, Jesus will not ask, "Where you right? Where you justified?" but "Did you love?"


One of my favorite Beatles songs (on one of my favorite Beatles albums) begins with:
"And in the end
the Love you take
is equal to the Love
you make"

That makes my heart happy.


I'm (re)reading Love and Respect and have found a couple of catchy quotes that I want to remember:

When love and respect are present in the marriage, husbands and wives process things far more wisely.

Love is not a feeling, it's a choice, a commitment. The same goes for respect--it's not earned, but given freely, unconditionally, by choice, in honoring a commitment to your marriage.

I'm so thankful for this fresh perspective on marriage.

Yes, love is intoxicating and more often than not it reveals itself in a feeling.

Yes, love is evident and romance is essential to who we are as husband and wife.

Yes, he still allures me, still pursues me.

Yes, I am his bride.

But it is certainly nice to have a biblical point of reference that is not as fickle as the heart or as fleeting as emotion.

I'm so grateful for Grant, for our marriage, for our covenant together, and for the Rock it's based on. Here's to 100 more on earth and an eternity in the hereafter together!

18 May 2010

Overwhelming Joy

What do you do when God's goodness is too good? when it stops you in your day, takes your breath away at the gracious goodness of His love? What do you do when you can't help but thank God for all the undeserved blessings you receive daily? when you are simply overwhelmed by the loving pursuit of a relentless God? when you cup runneth over?

All I can think of--second to prayer and thanksgiving, of course--radiates from the lyrics of this old untitled hymn:


Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!


It's just one of those seasons "when the love spills over and music fills the night"--praise the Lord!

God is teaching me more and more that we have the HOPE of nations, so why live like the hopeless? I am basking in the grace of hope and God is literally stopping in the middle of my day to thank Him for it. Amen!

04 May 2010

Job!

I am unbelievably thankful for this new job and I will share with you, as best I can, a bit of the process and what it will be like.

Many of you know that it's been a tad difficult for me to wrap my head around staying in Atlanta--I thought for sure we would not sign our lease again and that our season in Atlanta was up. Nope. God has other plans, thankfully!, and we're actually considering more permanency in Atlanta than we ever have before--we might even buy a house?!

But there was a period in transition for me (ok, the whole month of April, basically) that was pretty tough. I really felt the pressure to find a job, but couldn't find one--and with all the extracurriculars I'm involved with, I was a walking contradiction: complaining about not being able to find a job, while only half-heartedly seeking one out. I really really really did not want to nanny--I have 2 degrees and am 25... I should have a "real" job--but a nannying job found me anyway. A woman who seemed to present me with a pretty decent situation offered me a job and I took some time to think about it.

I wrote down my prayer, which was much like David in one of his psalms that begins by lamenting his situation, but ends up praising the Lord for His greatness. Anyway, the basic gist of my prayer was: "Father, forgive me. I complain about not having a job, and You have one find me, and yet still I am not satisfied. I will change my heart to be joyful in everything, fully submitting to You, and accepting whatever You have for me. You alone are good and You alone are God. Amen."

I immediately opened up my laptop to reply to her request and found an email from OpportunityKnocks.org--a non-profit job search engine in Atlanta--and opened it to find a job listing for Next Generation Mentoring. As I read the job description, it just got better and better. It was about 1 mile from our place, in an area of town I knew well, half-way between our apt and Grant's work, it was a non-profit centered on facilitating mentoring groups in established ministries, and Regi Campbell was its founder. I knew that name for several reasons: he's written two books and is a good friend of Ellen and my people at High Tech Ministries (both of whom I've been working with for the past year). I knew that anything I could do just to be near this caliber of people was worth it, so I applied, sent out emails to all my mutual contacts, and prayed again. After talking to Ellen about it, I decided to stop by and drop off my resume as well--hoping for a more personal encounter than just the electronic submission.

I was one of 10 out of 271 applicants selected for a phone interview, then one of 4 selected for a face-to-face interview, and finally met with both the Executive Director (Chris Hornsby) and the Founder (Regi Campbell) on my birthday (May 3rd). Less than 24 hours later, they offered me the job. I will be working closely with Chris as a Project Administrator--to facilitate and administer group deliveries and launches. I could go on and on about how this job description and its potential to grow fits me perfectly, but I won't. Just know that I am very grateful to have it, Grant is very proud of me, and I can't wait to start on May 17th. Thank You, Lord!

Update: Grant and I are having dinner with Chris and his wife Shanna Thursday night (!!!) How obviously great is this new beginning?!

birthday weekend recap

We went to the lake for the weekend to celebrate my birthday--it was awesome! We had the best time, and though some very precious people were very much missed, there were 15 of us who rang in my Quarter-Life Crisis together and it was perfect.

We rode to the lake with Jason and Chelsea Dasinger--thankful for his truck! because we brought our grill and donated it to the lake house--met up with Zach, and got in around 8pm. To our wonderful surprise, the Stingers and the Vessels ended up leaving Atlanta later on Friday and making it in before midnight! Lovely! Then my parents, Stahler, Alice, and the Nalleys made it over Saturday in time for fun and (some) sun, steaks, and cake!

We took the boat out--it was overcast, but not raining (kinda perfect to me)--and watched in amazement as Alice and Stahler wake-boarded. We drove the boat up and down some familiar stretches of lake and then when we got pretty close to home, cut the engine to enjoy the stillness and beauty--quite the time and place for serenity and comfort....

until we tried to crank it and head home.

The boat wouldn't start.

We tried and tried, but to no avail. So we (7 guys and 5 girls) began paddling. Yes, paddling this 25 foot ridiculous throw-back of a boat (retro: 1960s) to the nearest shore. I now fully appreciate the expression "so close, yet so far away..." yep [It should be said that it's never really failed us before]. Anyway, so once we get ashore, Stahler and I trek off to find help, which we do in the form of two women who live full time on the lake--the only two on the point, actually. They try to crank a fishing boat, and then another boat--neither have been taken out since winter, and do not crank--and finally get a jet ski running. They tow us back--Tonya saved my bday--and we were very grateful. It really wasn't that big a deal and the whole thing from start to finish may have taken 30 minutes, but it was an adventure, nonetheless.

Grant cooked some of the best steaks I've ever had--ever--and then they sang to me and we had cake (so good!). My family went in and got me a Barnes and Noble "Nook"--to which I may devote an entire post because I already love it so so much!--a gift card to go with, and a really cool piece of wood painted with a Smith Lake water scene. The coolest thing: they got everyone there to sign the back of it. So now I have a really sweet piece of rough looking art that Grant and I both adore and a recorded memory of those that helped my celebrate my 25th birthday--very special. A gift and a memory, what more can you ask for? Total birthday success. A+ to Grant and everyone else who made it so very wonderful for me.

I GOT THE JOB!!!!

best birthday present ever!

[more details to come]
[I start May 17th]
[!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

22 April 2010

ciao bella!

Also, we are planning a trip to ITALY later this year!! Can't wait to go. Seriously. Grant and the two others going with us have never been to Europe, much less Italy, and this will be such a special time for me to show off all my very favorite places, and yet also get to experience some things anew with my Love--very exciting!

We're going to fly into Rome, hit up all my favorite cheap (and mostly free!) things to do, enjoy the city, and then head up to Florence (or Firenze in Italiano). You should know that a not-so-small piece of my heart lives in a little piazza in Firenze: nestled beneath the windows where Michalangelo first conceived "the David" and near the place where it's rumored that Shakespeare conceived the plots to some of his best works, the Piazza de Signoria will forever be a part of me; from the banks of the Arno, to the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi and Galleria d'Accademia, and of course! the Duomo, I embrace it all. Florence is quite lovely and is bursting at the seams with hidden wonders and local treasures. We will spend several days in Firenze, before spending our last day in Venice (Venezia)--what a city of l'amore--and finally flying back out of Roma.

More details to come! But we're thinking either around Labor Day in September, or over Thanksgiving Holiday--either way we will embark on a memorable 10-day journey with two very awesome friends. I'd rather be packing than planning... can't wait to go!

ciao!

little Giants

My beautiful friend, Pat, reminded me of something today of which we should remember and take note.

She was remembering in the Bible, when God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt and showed them the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). Do you know this story? God told Moses to to send 12 spies into the land to check it out and report back. For 40 days these 12 went into Canaan, taking note of the people, the landscape, the economy, and the structure of the towns. The Canaanites living in the land were giants--physical giants--of great strength and stature; but God had already promised the victory to His people. When the 12 came back, 10 said "We cannot take it!" and turned back in fear because they had seen the giants...

and yet...

they could not see the giants among them--the men of giant faith--who trusted in the promises of the Lord; the type of giant that could conquer anything that God gave them in victory. These two giants among the tribe of Israel were Caleb and Joshua (of the tribes of Ephraim and Judah--later, two of the most powerful tribes in all of Israel (Ezekiel 37:15-23).

this is what Caleb and Joshua had to say about Canaan:

“The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 13:7-9).

Let us not forget the faith-giants walking in our midst, and those who have gone before us. Let us not look at the world and our circumstances, and see only the physical giants seemingly blocking our way, but let us also see those of giant faith, to whom, holding on the promises of God expectantly, will be given the victory to God's glory. Let us have eyes to see and ears to hear all that the Lord is doing among us, and let us be some of the ones who enter the promised land trusting in the Lord. Amen.

20 April 2010

16 April 2010

Jeremiah's Prayer

Father.

"I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
Pour our your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge You--
on the peoples that do not call upon Your Name.
For they have devoured Your people Israel;
they have devoured and consumed them,
making the land a desolate wilderness."

Amen.

08 April 2010

Time Out

I swear I'm almost finished with this study on Revelation. It has been a long but beautiful process and I have certainly found joy in the journey (even if you, dear reader, have not. ha!)

Just a quick update on things, since I haven't written a "personal" post, per se, in a while.

1. I went to Huntsville last week and was supposed to stay Sun-Tues, come home, then travel back with Grant and Georgia for Easter. That didn't happen. I did have a great time celebrating Camille's engagement on Sunday and a "twin mom lunch" for a friend on Monday--though neither me or mama are mothers of twins, it was fun getting several such moms together and laughing at stories and sharing experiences for 3 or 4 solid hours of glorious girl time ;)

But I was all packed up to go home Tuesday and decided to get my oil changed before the long ride back to Atlanta. I found out that my car was leaking transmission fluid... LONG story short, they told me that with parts and labor it would total about $750 bucks, "give or take"!?!?! What does that even mean, btw, when a mechanic tells you that? Anyway. Since I bought my suv in Huntsville, I decided to drop by the dealership--PRAISE THE LORD!--they said it was a recently listed "recall" and they would handle ALL of it for free!! So ended up staying in Huntsville (with dirty socks and repeat outfits) all week. God is good.

2. Since I had no car and pretty much rode around with mama all day everyday, running errands and such, I bounced along for a random dermatologist appointment she had. As they were doing the basic annual check up on her, I said, "Hey, what about this?" about a spot on my chest, to which they said "Hmmmmm..."

They biopsied my mole on the spot and the test results came back indicating that my "atypical nevus" [aka: "funny looking mole"] had a mild case of pre-cancerous melanoma cells in it. As I told my family in an email earlier this week: "This is not a big deal. Focus on the words PRE and MILD."

God is so good that He orchestrated a bizarre set of circumstances to be sure we caught this thing when we did--I mean how ridiculous and awesome is His hand in this story???

I have a consult set up with a pro @ Emory April 26th when we'll hopefully schedule a quick surgery shortly thereafter. I am meanwhile praying for complete healing and that if surgery has to happen, that it would be a testimony to God's power and grace--revealing no more pre-cancerous anything on the final biopsy. Amen!

3. Grant and I had a WONDERFUL Easter with family and friends!! We had the BEST time hanging out with Gma, mama and daddy of course, Stahler, and cousin Alice. Lots of down time with plenty of love for the Lord and expecting and embracing resurrection in our lives. We also [FINALLY] got to meet and play with Noah Catherine--precious beyond words--and spend some much-needed QT with Chandler and Sarah... So much so that we hung out at the Overcashes till 3am! and got to bed around 4am the night before Easter Sunday. It was really great, though, and I was surprisingly not tired ;). We crawled back into Atlanta after 11:30pm Sunday night, unpacked, and repacked.

4. Grant and I went to the MASTERS!! We got practice round tickets for Tuesday, so we got to have a brief visit with his sister Kelly, b-i-l John, and our baby niece Noel, as well as his parents. It was short but sweet and we got to see several pro golfers! Very exciting--they interact so much more with the crowd than I expected! My new fave is Westwood--I'll be looking for him this weekend during the real deal championship. Tiger on the other hand--I hope he chokes. I know that's mean, and perhaps un-Christianly of me, but I hope his professional life suffers from his poor personal life; I hope he's not so entirely made of stone that he can simply harden himself to the stuff he's brought on himself personally to perform well professionally. whatever. who knows. I was never much of a Tiger fan anyway, being from Bama and all ;)

5. Coco and I are going to the LAKE this weekend! Grant is out of town on a Bachelor weekend for Matt Hayes Thursday-Sunday, so Coco and I are headed to the lake to meet up with mama and daddy Friday night (tmrw) as soon as she gets off work! woot! Can't wait! Anytime spent at the lake is precious time and having a bff there with me is icing on the cake! We'll probably stop by a friend's baby shower in Huntsville, then maybe skip up to TN on our way home to meet up with Nids Sunday night!!--we'll see. still working out the details.

That's about it for now.

Still kinda looking for a job, but I love my prayer groups on Wed and Thursday--like LOVELOVE them!--and my ladies' bible study Friday mornings, so life is good and I'm growing by leaps and bounds spiritually until God provides a j.o.b. I certainly can't complain.

It looks like we'll be in Atlanta for another year--signing our lease (hopefully) tmrw or Monday--and I'm slowly coming around to receiving that reality with open arms. Things are good and God is great! It will be nice when Grant and I are slowed down and bit and get to spend more time together at home--rather than being gone every weekend, sometimes apart during that time.

We are excitedly planning our 2 year anniversary (can you BELIEVE it???!!!) so if you have any fun ideas, vacation spots, or favorites, leave a comment!!!

Revelation: Part Four

Part Four: Plagues and Terrors

Basically, one thing flows into another, so it is difficult to topically sort these events out, so to speak, because as the 7th Seal on The Scroll is broken that brings the 7 Angels with 7 Trumpets which bring on the Plagues and Terrors (or “great woes”), which involve the Small Scroll and 2 Witnesses, which lead to the evil ‘trinity’ and great prostitute, which finally brings us to the Wedding Day and Feast of the Lamb, which explains the White Horse again and the 1000 years, then the new heaven and new earth, and a final description of the New Jerusalem—Hallelujah!

The purpose in breaking this up is to make reading this ridiculous opus easier for you, dear reader, not because it is logically possible to dissect this story—metaphorical or otherwise—into bite-size pieces. Forgive me.

Having said that, looking at Revelation 8-11, let’s see what the Lord has for us because we need understand the basics of WHAT is actually happening to then discern the underlying TRUTH and scriptural MEANING of the events described.

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour.” (Rev 8:1)
—This should be significant to us, given the previous description of continual worship in heaven.
Then: altar of prayers, gold incense burner, fire from the altar thrown to the earth: thunder, lightning, earthquake

7 Angels with 7 Trumpets (Rev 8-9)
1) “hail and fire mixed with blood” thrown down onto the earth [remember (Exo 9:23-25)]
1/3 of the earth= set on fire
1/3 of the trees and everything green (Rev 8:7)
2) “mountain of fire thrown into the sea”
1/3 of the water => blood [remember (Exo 7:17-18)]
1/3 of all sea creatures= dead
1/3 of of all ships @ sea= destroyed (Rev 8:8-9)
3)”great star named ‘Bitterness’ fell from the sky, burning like a torch” [I think this is similar to the festering boils or great physical sickness experienced in Egypt (Exo 9:9)] also [remember the bitter water at Marah and the command of the Lord: obedience, healing, and then 12 springs of water at Elim (Exo 15:23-27)]
1/3 of the rivers and springs of fresh water
—made water bitter and many died from drinking the bitter water (Rev 8:10-11)
4) darkness [remember (Exo 10:21)]
1/3 of the sun
1/3 of the moon
1/3 of the stars
1/3 of the day= dark
1/3 of the night= dark (Rev 8:12)

[5th Trumpet brings 1st Terror]

5) fallen star= given the key to Hell and opens it (Rev 9:1)
From Hell:
Darkness again, this time from smoke of Hell’s furnace (Exo 10:21) (Rev 9: 2)
Locusts (Exo 10:12) (Rev 9: 3-11)
sting like scorpions
sting people without the Seal of God on their foreheads
not to kill the people but to torture them for 5 months
Appearance: “horses prepared for battle with gold crowns and faces like a human, hair like a woman’s and teeth like a lion. They wore armor made of iron and their wings roared like an army or chariots rushing into battle. They had tails that stung like scorpions” (Rev 9:7-10)
Authority: “Their king is [Satan] the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is “Abaddon,’ and in Greek ‘Apollyon’—The Destroyer.” (Rev 9:11)

[6th Trumpet brings 2nd Terror]

6) Release of the 4 Angels to the 4 Corners of the World (Rev 9:13-21)
“Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were turned loose to kill one-third of all the people on earth” (Rev 9:15)
—What perfect planning and preparation that, before the earth was created, these angels had an appointed time and a purposed assignment—
1/3 of human population= killed by 3 plagues: fire, smoke, and burning sulfur (Rev 9:15, 18)
4 Angels’ Army: 200 million+ horses and riders
Appearance: (horses and riders described)
Riders—“the riders wore armor of fiery red and dark blue and yellow”
Horses—“the horses had heads like lions and fire, smoke, and burning sulfur billowed from their mouths…their power was in their mouths and tails, for their tails had heads like snakes, with the power to injure people” (Rev 9:17-19)

[Interlude]
[Mighty Angel and Small Scroll (Rev 10)]
Stood with small scroll in hand with left foot on land and right foot on water on earth and roared like a lion—his cry was answered by 7 thunders that spoke, but what they said is kept secret [remember Deut 29:29]—this angel raises a hand towards heaven and says that with the 7th Trumpet “God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as He announced through His servants the prophets” (Rev 10:7)

[Eat your Daily Bread—a Word from the Lord for the People of the Lord]
“Yes, take and eat the small scroll,” said the angel, “It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” which came to pass [remember also Ezekiel being fed a scroll that was first sweet in his mouth but turned bitter (Ezek 3:1-7, 14)]; and of course (Deut 8:3, Job 23:12, Prov 30:8, Matt 4:4, 6:11, and Luke 4:4, 11:3) on God’s Word/ bread/ sustenance.

[Two Witnesses] (Rev 11:3-12)
Who: 2 Witnesses= 2 Olive Trees= 2 Lampstands: “that stand before the Lord of all the earth”
Olive Trees: symbol of life, growth, and development; 2 special trees (though not necessarily olive) in the Garden of Eden and same 2 in the New Jerusalem—Knowledge of Good and Evil and Life Everlasting (Gen 2:9, Rev 22:2); used for physical healing/ medicinal purposes; involved in atonement of sins (Lev 2:1) and breaking bread; listed by God as a “sacred offering” (Exo 25:6); used as both an anointing oil (Exo 30:25-31, Ps 133:2) and lamp oil (Exo 27:20-21)—tying the Olive Trees and the Lampstands together.
Lampstands: symbol of light, dispelling darkness, and restoring peace; used to represent the 7 churches earlier in Revelation; used in the Old Testament to atone for sin and provide continual and everlasting light to the inner curtain of the Tabernacle (Exo 27: 20-21); OT—precious and costly: made of one continuous piece of gold (Exo 25:31) and made to look like a living tree with branches, blowers, buds, and fruit (Exo 25:32-36)—tying the Olive Trees and the Lampstands together.

What: 2 “dressed in burlap” to prophesy to the nations and give testimony to the Truth; from the description that ties them to Olive Trees and Lampstands, they are to intercede, prophesy, heal, atone, testify to the truth, bring light, dispel darkness, restore certain things, and be pure, holy, precious, costly, and sacred—given the lists above
When: “1260 days” (or 3.5 years) with a death and resurrection 3.5 days later (a day for each year) and ascension into heaven like Jesus
Where: all the earth, death and resurrection in “Jerusalem” figuratively not literally (Rev 11:8)
Why: to turn the hearts of the people on earth—one last shot before the 7th trumpet to win back souls for Christ
How: Authority from God to do whatever it takes to bring rebellious people back:
“They have the power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Much like Moses and Aaron vs. Pharaoh in OT times—whatever it takes to free people from the slavery and bondage of this earth
—Satan will declare war on them and kill them in the street; people will celebrate, congratulating each other and satan for this ‘victory,’ but after 3.5 days God will speak life to them and they will live and rise up into heaven at His command

[2nd Terror comes to an end]
Terrible earthquake destroys 1/10 of the city—7,000 people die
People repent and glorify God

[7th Trumpet brings 3rd and Final Terror]

7) Loud Voices from Heaven:
“The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)
24 Elders give thanks and praise/ lay out the itinerary: God’s taking back all His power/ any authority that He had allocated out; (just like the OT) God’s wrath on the nations has passed and the time for peace and reconciliation is coming (Wedding and Feast of the Lamb after all this other stuff) but first: justice and judgment; Time of Judgment—Book of Life (Sin and Atonement through Jesus: Life; Sin without atonement: Death); Time of Reward—Book of the Lamb/ Bema Judgment (Stewardship not sin); Final destruction of evil
Ark of the Covenant
Lightning
Earthquake
Hailstorm
Chaos

NOTE
If you remember the OT plagues that brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, 5 of the 10 plagues listed in Exodus are repeated here. Why? I think that God is calling to mind a remembrance of the power He’s already demonstrated, but is also revealing that He’s doing a new thing here and that many things happening in the End Times will be like nothing before. It’s also a melding of the Old and New Testaments in that exactly half of the apocalyptic plagues are Old Testament plagues and exactly half are completely new (perhaps representing an old and a new covenant) God is displaying a new wrathful vengeance for a new and different generation (not just Jew but Gentile as well) and renewed power and strength, having sent every other possible warning first.

In even this, He loves.
In even this, He redeems.
In even this, He is jealous for His Beloved, wanting only His Bride to come fully into His arms.
And certainly in even this, He lives!

[Quick Refresher]
Plagues of Egypt from Exodus:
1. Blood (7:17-18)
2. Frogs (8:2-4)
3. Gnats (8:16-17)
4. Flies (8:24)
5. Livestock (9:6)
6. Festering Boils/ Sickness (9:9)
7. Hail (9:23-25)
8. Locusts (10:12)
9. Darkness (10:21)
10. Death of Firstborn [man and animal alike] (11:5-6)

5 listed in Revelation:
Hail
Blood
Bitter Illness
Darkness
Locusts

23 March 2010

Revelation: Part Three

Part Three: Breaking the 7 Seals on The Scroll

The Lamb is the only One worthy enough to open the 7 seals (Rev 5:4-5), so He does and this is what happens when each seal breaks (Rev 6-8:5):

1st seal. White Horse with Rider: Victory—carries bow, crown on head: “He rode out to win many battles and gain the glory!” [we like that one]

2nd seal. Red Horse with Rider: War—“was given a mighty sword and the authority to take peace away from the earth. And there was war and slaughter everywhere.” [we certainly don’t like that one]

3rd seal. Black Horse with Rider: Justice—“its rider was holding a pair of scales” [we hope we’re saved from that one]

4th seal. Green Horse with Rider: Death and the Grave—“These two were given authority over ¼ of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals” [we hope never to meet these two]

TIME OUT: Let’s stop after these 4 Horsemen and regroup. God has given power and authority to these four—and that may be difficult to swallow, but if you have a pretty good understanding of the Old and New Testament God [one and the same, never changing, uncreated, all-powerful, just, true, and filled with unfailing love] then you know that He acts on and allows whatever it takes to win back His wonderful children—even this. It will all make sense later (both in the book of Revelation and in life). The only two things that will last forever are eternal souls and the Word of God.

These three things we can know for sure: “For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to every generation” (Psalm 100:5).

5th seal. Altar of Martyred Souls: who shout “How Long, O Lord, before You judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?!”—they are given white robes and are told to rest a bit longer “until the full number of their brothers and sisters had joined them.”

6th seal. Geological Chaos: earthquake, sun goes black, moon turns blood red, stars fall out of the sky, the sky is rolled up like a scroll, and the mountains and islands are moved. In essence, the earth is shaken to its foundations—just to notify all who were not sure: this is the end time.

**Before the 7th seal, 4 angels place the Seal of God on the foreheads of those (his servants) left on earth—a total of 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel [12,000 from each tribe]—however, interesting that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are left out—though they are not listed they are not left out…
quick history catch up!
*original 12 born to Jacob:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin
—Levi=God’s priests with no land, and Joseph’s 2 sons replace him in his inheritance—
*12 tribes given camping spot in wilderness and land in Canaan:
Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali
*In this list (Rev 7:4-8), however, Dan and Ephraim are simply not listed because Levi and Joseph are listed but they are not left out entirely.
*In Ezekiel 37:16-19 God says He will join Ephraim and the Tribes of the North [Dan was the head of the 3 northern Tribes (Numbers 2)] and will reconcile them or join them irrevocably to Judah. So they are not left out, but unnamed perhaps because of this Old Testament Prophesy so that both Levi and Joseph can be listed in this list in Revelation.

** The Multitudes, aka, us: Massive crowd too large to count in white robes with palm branches sing out and worship the Lord; “these are the ones who died in [or came out of] the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.”—This is the rest of us—the multitudes—who know and believe but are not from a “tribe” of Israel. It says very little about how we “died” or “came up out of” great tribulation; nor does it describe the time of “great tribulation” or suffering at all. What is that about? I want to know more! Is it that we were taken up and those of the 12 tribes listed above are still on earth with the Seal on their foreheads? I’m not sure.

7th seal. Fire and Brimstone: silence throughout heaven for 1 hour; 7 angels with 7 trumpets, another angel with gold incense burner “to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering” then to “fill the incense burner with fire from the altar and throw it on the earth”—chaos once more—“and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.” This can be a confusing portrait of events in heaven—sounds a bit more like hell with all the chaos and destruction, the fire and silence from worshiping God, however it is not and Peace will come and reign forever—this simply must pave the way and happen first.

Picture all of this happening—unfolding along a timeline we do not know with events we cannot understand.

All of this is why I believe that it is much easier and clearer to detect good and evil and to love the Lord as Savoir forever NOW rather than later—imagine trying to sort out all that in the midst of fire falling from heaven and the end of the physical world/ existence as you once knew it.

Revelation: Part Two

Part Two: Creatures and Worship in Heaven

This part is pretty psychedelic… I really like it! The next section describes all the things/ people/ beings dwelling and worshiping in heaven (chapters 4 and 5).

It is important that we understand the who, what, where, why, and how of heaven and worship. This section paints that picture for us. [This is a brief overview/ outline as you read along chapters 4 and 5; not much commentary but just a basic foundation to build from in future chapters and lessons.]

The Glory of God: “as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled His throne like a rainbow” (Rev 4:2-3). Could we even imagine it? Surely there is nothing in this world beautiful enough to encapsulate or compare His glory and beauty and majesty to, so we are left grasping at straws to understand the fullness of this picture and this moment. Safe to say, it’s the most breathtakingly beautiful thing we will or could ever experience.

Spirit of God: “7 torches with 7 flames represent the Sevenfold Spirit of God”—moving and speaking, perhaps, to the world through the 7 churches (also represented by fire/ torch-like structures in heaven) (Rev 4:5). This “Sevenfold Spirit of God” means that the Spirit has been made new or has changed or somehow increased in power. It’s very interesting that the Spirit’s name is different and that the characteristics that describe Him are new.

24 elders sitting on 24 thrones that surround God’s throne and fall on their faces continually in worship—clothed in white with gold crowns on their heads (Rev 4:4).

4 animal-like creatures in heaven that love and worship the Lord: a lion, an ox, a human-faced animal, and an eagle in flight—each with 6 wings and completely covered in eyes (Rev 4:7).

Jesus—the Lion and the Lamb

The Lion: “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory!” (Rev 5:5).

The Lamb: this is Jesus, the perfect Lamb of Atonement; “Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the 4 living beings and among the 24 elders.” What a strikingly different appearance to the Glory of God—a slaughtered Lamb, covered in blood, yet standing and talking among them. But there’s more: “He [the Lamb] had 7 horns and 7 eyes which represent the Sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out to even part of the earth” (Rev 5:6), representing the precious pairing of Jesus, the Lamb that was slaughtered, and the Holy Spirit, who is manifested 7x in the end times.

Worship: Harp and Bowl—what’s mentioned here is the “harp and bowl” style of worship that incorporates music and singing with intercession and prayer in the Spirit: “…the 4 living beings and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song…” (Rev 5:8).

Angels in Heaven: “thousands and millions of angels around the throne” worshiping the Lord (Rev 5:11).

The Multitudes, aka, us: “I saw a vast crows, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. There were clothed in white robes and held palm braches in their hands…these are the ones who died in [come up out of] the great tribulation…That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve Him day and night in His Temple…He is their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:9-17)—this comes later in the book—and if you have questions about this, you are not alone!

10 March 2010

Revelation: Part One

Part One: the 7 Stars (Angels) and 7 Lampstands (Churches)

The first part of Revelations (chapters 1-3) is a little head's up for 7 churches of Asia—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea—dictated to John by Jesus (Rev 1:12-18), and the gist of each message is basically: "God is watching and you have become lax in some way, which if not repented and changed will be your downfall—judgment is coming." The 7 stars represent the 7 watchful angels and the 7 lampstands represent the 7 churches (Rev 1:20). What is interesting to me in this section is how God words his message: the opening and closing of each letter—how He identifies Himself and what He promises to each church. A recurring theme for the ending of all 7 letters is a call for prophets—“anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches"—included toward the end of each letter.

Ephesus: "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the One who holds the 7 stars in His right hand (God), the One who walks among the 7 gold lampstands (again, God)." The end promises eternal life—"fruit from the Tree of Life in the paradise of God"—as reward for repentance and victory in Jesus (Rev 2:1-7).

Smyrna: "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the One who is the First and the Last (God), who was dead but is now alive (Jesus)." His promise at the end: "But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the Crown of Life...whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the 2nd death" (Rev 2:8-11). More on the “2nd death” later.

Pergamum: "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the One with the sharp two-edged sword (Jesus/ God's word)." The end promise of victorious reward: "To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it." Interesting gift. (Rev 2:12-17)

Thyatira: “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God (Jesus), whose eyes are like flames of fire (Jesus), whose feet are like polished bronze (Jesus).” Not the familiar picture of a soft-looking man holding a lamb in your Sunday school class? Check out a similar description in Rev 1:12-18; remember, he’s gearing up for Spiritual Warfare and the end is near. His promise at the end: “I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!” [a term used to describe Himself later in Rev 22:16]. Pretty destructive imagery all around, but nothing compared to what is to come (Rev 2:18-29).

Sardis: “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the One who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the 7 stars (God).” This new identity of the Spirit “sevenfold” is introduced for the first time in the Bible in Revelation. Don’t get too hung up on it, it simply represents a new picture or understanding of the Trinity’s character and power, much like the description of Jesus as a warlord earlier—just one more piece of the whole puzzle revealed to us. Remember, we’re not held accountable for the secrets of God we don’t understand, only for the pieces He chooses to reveal to us and how we internalize them (Deut 29:29). And their just reward: “All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and His angels that they are Mine.” Pretty Powerful. (Rev 3: 1-6).

Philadelphia: “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the One who is holy and true (God), the One who has the key of David (Jesus). What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.” (reference Isa. 22:22 for a reminder on the key of David). Victory’s reward: “Because you have obeyed My command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world… All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of My God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the Name of My God, and they will be citizens in the city of My God—the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from My God. And I will also write on them My New Name.” That’s a lot to take in—what a gift! It’s almost like 3 gifts. And here’s another surprising detail: when the Word says He makes all things “new” (Isa 43:19, 66:22, 65:17; Rev 21:1-5; Gal 6:15, 2 Peter 3:13, 2 Cor 5:17, Ezek 18:31, 36:26, Col 3:10) that applies to heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and even the Name of Jesus, as well as you and me in our individual walk with Christ here on earth. Wow. (Rev 3:7-13).

Laodicea: “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the One who is the Amen (Spirit)—the faithful and true witness (Jesus), the beginning of God’s new creation (God).” And the final promise: “Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne.” What a comparison. We hardly deserve it, but thank God He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Amen. (Rev 3:14-22).

The 7 distinct ways God uses to identify Himself (and the Trinity) differ in accordance to what He wants the churches to each be aware of—which elements of His character He wants to remind them of and impress upon them; the promises of victory are different, too. He didn’t simply say “I am God…victory means life eternal”—each reward was chosen specifically for some reason, tying directly into the Identity God listed and the “complaints” He has with the church. Interesting that there are 7 continents and listed there are 7 churches--of course, we'll have to quickly set-up shop in Antarctica if we believed that, but I think there's more symbolism going on than simply 7 for 7 [in fact, a whole study could be done on the meanings of the number 7 in the Bible and in Revelation, but that's for another time]. I would really rather be grouped in with the victorious ones of Ephesus, Smyrna, Sardis, or Philadelphia rather than with those of Pergamum, Thyatira, or Laodicea—but that’s not up for me to decide, thankfully.

What an interesting scene of John taking dictation from God the Father Almighty and Jesus Christ as described in all His garb, writing warnings to us of what will be.

Amazing.

23 February 2010

Revelation: Explanation

Why? What's the point? Where’s the justification for this study? Why do we need to peel back the layers of Revelation if people hardly talk about it and rarely preach on the subject? Isn’t it a bit far removed from our reality? I think not. I think our perspective and our vision of “reality” is skewed and a study on Revelation may be key to realigning ourselves to the right perspective and true reality.

If everything in the Bible previous to the Book of Revelation is the past—though certainly not dead, but the living, active, Word of God—and it relates to the present—application, accountability, explanation—then Revelation is the account of all things future—what is to come, what will be, what new things will happen or exist; we are living in the inbetween—the gap between the record of things past and the remaking of all things new. Arguably, Revelation could have been as large and extensive as the rest of the Bible, in and of itself, because of all that it reveals (but thankfully, God made it short enough for us to follow and simple enough for us to grasp His main points). It is packed with spiritual Truth. What’s interesting, is that unlike the rest of the Bible (Old and New Testaments), Revelation speaks of things that we cannot relate to, have not experienced, and cannot apply to our lives directly; it is completely different from any life experience we can fathom which makes it incredible and difficult at the same time.

So, if we can’t apply it directly or understand it immediately, what’s the point in studying it?

I believe that the difference is a shift in spiritual perspective—that realignment of our skewed perspective of “reality” and our place and purpose in it; in doing so we have a new and fuller “kingdom perspective,” a stronger, more confident faith, a better picture of the character of God, and a different set of questions.

Let’s look at this in the analogy of being in a battle vs. studying the outcome of a war.

Pick a historical war—any one will do. Imagine yourself fighting in it. When you are in the heat of battle, your questions are varied: What are we doing here? What are we fighting for? What’s the point? Who’s going to win this battle? Who’s going to win this war? Will I be on the victorious side? What will happen if I’m not? How will it all turn out? How many will die? Will their deaths be in vain? Will we be remembered? Will all this be worth it in the end?
Many of these questions are questions we Christians ask daily if not season to season in life in relation to family, marriage, parenting, scheduling conflicts, work, ministry, and so many other difficult things. Here’s the secret to studying Revelation: all these questions and more are answered.

Now, with the same historical war in mind, imagine yourself studying the outcome in a book or in class. Your questions are different; your perspective is different; you’re invested in a completely different way; you know the answers to many if not all of the questions listed above. You still have questions, they are simply different because of your knowledge and this simple principle:

Once you know the ending or the outcome, your perspective changes.

Here’s the best news of all: we know the outcome. Our perspective should be different.

In reading, wrestling with, studying, internalizing, sifting through, believing, and trusting in the truth of Revelation, we know that the war is won, that we are victorious in Christ, and that our purpose and place in the story is more clear: we are here on earth, in the fray of the battle, but we are on the winning side, and we need not fear the enemy or our circumstances, because of the events describe in this book. Our new questions might shift to: When? Why not now? In what ways? In what time frame? In my lifetime? Will I be able to discern what is happening as it happens?
A totally new set of questions from a totally new perspective on life today and reality as we know it.

If the majority of the questions we ask today are—What is Your will? What is your timing? What ways will You do it, Lord?—then at least the “will” and some of the “ways” of the Lord are answered in Revelation, leaving us with “timing,” which I think we can deal with for now.

The purpose of this study is to delve into the text in order to gain a new perspective, to understand our current reality in light of God’s reality, and to ask new questions, having moved forward in faith from the old ones. Not that the old ones are wrong or bad or less-than, it’s simply that God has more for us and wants more for us and desires a deeper level of intimacy with us, which comes with a stronger faith, confident in what is to come, asking a different set of questions, knowing the answers to the old ones—we do have a purpose, God is good, God is sovereign, He allows evil for a future purpose and it’s all for His glory, Jesus is resurrected, He has conquered death, it will not always be this way, there will be a new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem, Jesus will reveal Himself in a new way with a new name to His beloved, there will be a wedding feast in heaven when the Church (Bride) and Jesus (Groom) will finally be united in holy matrimony, never straying, never leaving, never forsaking, and never separated forever and ever amen (and these are just a quick overview of the multitude of promises and answers provided in Revelations).

Read the book to find more. It is powerful stuff and God wants it for all of us. Let Him prove Himself to you, reveal Himself anew to you, answer more of your questions, and progress your faith in shifting your perspective. He wants you to love Him completely. Trust Him completely. Know Him completely. And commune with Him intimately.

“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” –Psalm 27:8.

Go and talk with the Lord. See what He has for you in Revelations this week.