tuesday october 14, 2008
Question: I just read your last entry, Living with Him. What if you are currently living with your boyfriend, sharing an apartment, a lease agreement – and planning to get married? I’m kind of stuck.
Reply: Who told you that you’re stuck? Is that you talkin’ to yourself? Cause you are wrong about that. You are as free as the fresh air on the other side of your door. Your prison is your own thoughts, sweet girl. Yes, I understand that the situation is knee deep in details – details that are tied to your heart not just to stuff you move in boxes. Sweetheart, you have a wonderful, full-life choice to make that is your FREEDOM. Turn your life around. Turn. A 180. What a miracle when God changes our mind! It so exciting to know He is impressing you with His truth. You know that is Him, don’t you? Yes, life change takes serious determination, work, discipline, but first and foremost heart change – life change that follows heart change - is of God. He’s working on your heart! He’s got all the strength you need! Believe it! How desperately God wants you to experience life in Him, to walk in His way, His love, His faithfulness – to abide in Him. We can’t abide in Him and live in sin. We always have a choice – which is the goodness of our God to give us one. We always have the ability. Would He give you direction, without making you able? Absolutely not! I want to encourage you to choose Him – fully – which means moving out from the apartment you share with your boyfriend. Today. Yes. Today. Don’t sleep there another night. You know what you need to do; now do it. Watch how God will move on your behalf when you give Him Lordship over your life! Girl! Watching God work!!! How incredible is that? And what a testimony of His goodness to you you’ll be singing!!! I could go on and on about God’s faithfulness to those who chose Him based on blind faith. Read Hebrews Chapter 11. Nobody saw God – they simply believed. Rahab is my favorite, because, well – she was a harlot and she simply heard of the God of Israel and how He had parted the Red Sea and was coming to Jericho to defeat it on behalf of His people, Israel. She heard of Him – hadn’t even seen these people following Him, and she believed – and wanted a peace of a life in Him. He changed her heart – helped her die to her old life – and move from a city that was doomed from the very beginning – into full life, her name being one listed in the lineage of CHRIST! Come on with THAT!!!! You think her silk, perfume, and boyfriends could ever measure up to that kind of blessing? Rhetorical question – of course. But can you imagine the life change that was ahead of this woman once she chose God? Once she renounced her lifestyle, do you think embracing what it meant to follow after a god she could not see was easy? I would think it was full of its challenges – from the Israelite women who knew her reputation and might have had a hard time embracing her – and teaching her their ways – to the old habits she had sought with finding satisfaction physically and emotionally. Obviously she endured as an Israelite, and only God knows how very much, but I can read how great the blessing when I see her name with my Savior’s heritage in Matthew 1. What if she had chose to stay with her people in Jericho – the life that was easy, known to her – precious as she could define precious from her limited perspective? What if you chose to stay right where you are at? What if you with blind faith – like Rahab - choose God?
Have you heard of Jonah and the Whale? Jonah, having disobeyed God was stuck in the belly of a whale. What a predicament to be in, huh? How would you get out of that one? Not much packing to do, but a lot of praying. Jonah prayed in chapter 2 verses 8-9, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise will sacrifice to you.” Jonah realized he had made his own way his god. He realized that to experience the love of the one true God is to live for Him – which will always be a sacrifice. However, the blessing that comes from that sacrifice invokes shouts of grateful praise. Sweetness, if I myself had not experienced that truth in my own life – I would not be writing this to you. It’s true – and I can’t stop talking about it – writing about it – Lord help my family when I start singing about it. If I want you to know how amazing this life in Christ is, can you imagine how much more your Heavenly Daddy wants you to know it? He loves you far more than I could ever hope to love you! And I’m trying – I hope you hear all my love in my words to you – but even more so in God’s Words from His book on which I am relying.
I love Psalm 119. Please read it. All of it, and ask God to grip your heart with His understanding, His truth. I want to share some of it with you. It says in verses 1-4, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart – they do no wrong but follow His ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not forsake me utterly.” Can you hear the writer’s heart for God? Such understanding of truth – God’s loving, faithful truth – invokes determination – passion – movement from sin – toward God. How will you ever know – precious girl – how good it is to dwell with God – to walk His ways - unless you let go of what you are deceived into believing is so precious – so right for your life – and embrace the One True God? We cannot embrace Him, while clinging to our own life – our own way – our sinful choices. He wants all of us. All of our life – our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength – fully devoted (Mark 12:29-30).
In Matthew 19:16-22 Jesus has a conversation with a man about what it takes to find eternal life. Jesus ultimately tells him, go sell all you have and follow me. When the man heard Jesus direction, he walked away from Christ - sad, because his wealth - his "stuff" pile - was HUGE. Why did Jesus’ instruction him make the man so sad? Maybe you can answer that question just based on your own circumstances. It’s hard to let go of what we have chased after, held, lived by, thought about, become, and deem most precious - to live a whole new way – a way that requires blind faith. The man Jesus spoke to would have to let go of ALL he had accumulated – depended on – invested in – worked so hard for – to embrace following Christ. He would have to blindly believe that life – eternal life – is in Christ – nothing else. Whoever is a Christ follower – understands that sacrifice to a certain degree, and if we don’t – we must closely examine our followship. In choosing Christ, we turn from everything in our life that does not honor Him. In choosing Christ we make Him our leader, our guide every single day. In choosing Christ, we read, study, learn, and think about His Word – and regard it as the one source of all truth; and not only do we deem it the truth- we acknowledge our desperate need for it, AND we put that truth to work in our lives – daily, as God – our teacher, helps us to learn it, know it, apply it – and bring Him glory as His children following HARD after it. SHEW!!! Take a breath! Does that sound like a cake walk to you? Jesus didn’t say it would be. He does have a yoke (teachings for us to live by) but, it's easy and light. Life in Him is sacrifice. He said whoever loses his life for HIS sake would find it. He provided instruction for what that looks like in The Bible – and gave us promises for the blessings that would satisfy us beyond what the world has to offer. He said – get this – He would be right there – here – now - with us! My friend,we can’t even imagine how good GOOD is when we seek what is good from the God who made goodness in the first place. Put that on some flair! Read Psalm 119, and be encouraged – and challenged in what God is placing on your heart to do. Girl, yes you are taking a huge leap. Yes, you are letting go – falling back into some unknown, but God – the faithful, loving arms of our unseen God - will not forsake you. You’ll never know, until you let go. Look what God has for you in His Word – today.
“How loving is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka (an oasis found on a desert journey to the temple), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you.” Psalm 84
I pray you are encouraged. I pray you are motivated by Him. I pray you start packing, and don’t look back with doubt. Move forward with your faith - into new life. I hear you. I know what you’re asking. How long should you be on your own? Time is nothing for God. He wants your heart. All of it. Stay on your own, don’t marry this young man, until your life – until your boyfriend’s life - is clearly defined by Him. Then you’ll have something precious to begin your marriage - and stay your marriage. Can you even imagine?!? Oh I can see it now! Your wedding, your marriage, your lives together to glorify God – what a celebration THAT will be!
Come to Vintage, okay? Seek God, grow and learn with us. I would love to meet you. And if you need help packing, guess what? We can hook you up! Big time!
Turn. Embrace. Serve. Faith moves.
posted by laura lewis
thursday october 9, 2008
Living with Him
Question: Is it okay to live together before you get married?
Reply: Hi! Thanks for writing to me! I have been praying about this answer, and I am grateful for you! Thank you for this opportunity to think through God’s Word and His love for us. I’m excited to share what I have been learning!
Will you give me a second to love on you? If you were sitting here with me, and were genuinely considering moving in with your boyfriend the first thing I would want to do is wrap my arms around you and squeeze you tight. So, I’m hugging you first, and I hope although you cannot see my eyes – you hear through my words so much love for you! Okay? Now, the next thing I would do is look you straight in the face and say to you – “Are you crazy or something?” Insert a strong Bronx, New York accent with that. Beautiful girl, do you not realize how precious you are? You must not, or you wouldn’t buy into such a sad imitation of love and life. God created and defines both, and His plan for you outshines what you could even begin to imagine for your love story. Thank you for asking me this question. What I hope to convey– is you are loved more than you realize…
Let’s think through this – and please, let me know your thoughts, about what I share with you. If you have any questions about anything I say, if you feel like I’ve not mentioned any concern or thought you had – please, let me know.
I’m grateful you are asking this question, because you wouldn’t be asking if you didn’t have doubt – and so I am praying that you are willing to really consider what I am going to share with you – open your heart and really think about what God’s Word has to say about living together. I’m going to insert a lot of Scripture with each thought. Please take the time to go back and read through these verses carefully. I’m praying God gives you so much understanding. You pray and ask for understanding as well, okay?
Let me ask you this. How do you measure what is okay? Would it be okay if others said it was okay to move in together? If everyone else is doing it, does that make it okay? If statistics showed that you would be less likely to get divorced – were you to marry this person you’d be living with – would that make it okay? If it were going to make you happy to live together – would that make it okay? If it were going to help you financially – would that make it okay? How about that it would just get you out on your own – out of your parents’ house, which may be a very difficult situation for you right now – would that make living together okay? Girl – I’m gonna go where we all have to go – to our Father in Heaven – His Word for what is okay. He loves you so, so much. He has every answer for your life and what is okay for you. Whether you live with this young man and you are NOT married, or you live together and you ARE married – your heart, your life, sweet one – IS as it WAS before you put one box in the moving van – DEPENDENT on God. The question is, do you want to follow His way – or do you want to do it your way? His way is the only way that promises life – and life that is abundant. The choice is yours – and the reality of that truth will play itself out in your life whether you choose the God who loves you or not. He’s God, and He’s good at being God.
In the very beginning – when God made man and woman to be united together – as He created us to be – Adam said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” What a proclamation! What an understanding of how they were made and his understanding of all she was to him. She was part of him. And the Bible says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Wow! What a moment! Love it!!! Love the sweet abandon of it! No doubt! No shame! Sheweee that’s good!
A man leaves his father and mother to be united with his wife, my friend. Now I hear you – loud and clear. In this day and age – some of us leave home and get an apartment. I understand. However, in choosing – not to live on your own – (that part is not the matter here )- but to be joined as one flesh –because baby, that’s sex – the two are husband and wife. The Bible doesn’t say for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined with his girlfriend. The reason for leaving our father and mother is to be joined as husband and wife – living together for the purpose of close, intimate relationship – sex - as God intended it.
It always baffles me up when a Christian couple says, “We live together, but we’re not having sex.” First of all, the Bible says in Ephesians 5:3, that there isn’t even to be a hint of immorality in our lives. Living together definitely hints at immorality. Your love for God should be proclaimed through every area of your life without need of words or defense. Psalm 19! And, Sweetness, you are putting yourself in the midst of HUGE temptation. We are supposed to run from temptation. I Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies but those who sin sexually, sin against their own bodies.” And check out 2 Timothy 2:22. “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Think about what we are supposed to run towards:righteousnes, faith, love, and peace with others. Just that thought alone should give you clear direction.
I have one last thought for you to consider. Why would you live together apart from marriage? Answer that right now on a piece of paper. Please, go ahead and get your paper and pen. I’ll wait. Now write it out. Got your answer? Maybe you have several reasons listed. Read them over and answer this prayerfully, okay? Do your reasons for living together glorify God your Father? Whatever your reasons for wanting to make this move - from financial -to problems with parents – to job situations, locations, timing – whatever…would living together apart from marriage glorify God? Think about that. He does not contradict Himself ever, and your reason whatever it is – cannot possibly bring Him glory when you are outside of His design for the two becoming one flesh, when you are depending on another person to be your source of help, love, completion, security, whatever. You are making another person an idol when you put that person before God. That doesn’t just mean in a dating relationship – that also included marriage. Your partner for life is that alone – a partner for life, not your God. Marriage – living together as one flesh - is a gift from Him, for His purposes – His glory. I realize people think that by living together or even getting married all of their problems are going to be solved. Wrong. God is God, and He is faithful to teach us that our satisfaction – our hope – our help – our sustenance - our provision for this life now and for eternity- can only be found in Him – not in any other relationship. He is provider. He doesn’t need your boyfriend to provide for you (I Tim. 6:17). He is your protection (Psalm 91). He doesn’t need your boyfriend to keep you safe (Ps.32:7). He is your problem solver, and He doesn’t need you to move in with your boyfriend to work through your home situation, your job situation, or any situation for that matter (Proverbs 3:5-6). How very much we limit our God!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Seek His Kingdom, not your own. Let go of what you think you know is right, and safe, and good – and embrace His Word, His way. You cannot begin to imagine how good it can be.
You are so very loved, sweet one. Don’t limit yourself from experiencing how much God wants to wrap you up in that love. Watch what He will do when you choose to LIVE WITH HIM.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 (Read all of it!)
posted by laura lewis