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A Love Song to the Bridegroom

One of the most important parts of life is the pursuit of intimacy with God. When a believer accepts Christ and the Holy Spirit indwells within them the Holy Spirit begins to thirst for, or pant as the psalmist describes it, for oneness with God the Father and Jesus Christ. As the scripture says “deep cries out to deep”. The more we whet the appetite of the Holy Spirit for oneness with God the more we crave time with the Lord. When we crave time in His presence we are ultimately desiring a taste of the oneness that is to fully come when Christ, our Bridegroom, comes for us, His bride.

One of the songs that I enjoy singing and thinking about in regards to how much I love my intimate times with God is the hymn “In the Garden”. I’ve actually only heard it sung during a service one time, at the funeral for my great grandma Martinez. When she passed away we drove up to Taos, New Mexico, it was February and it was cold. We had just celebrated her 100th birthday in August a few months earlier up there at a large family reunion. By large I mean large, my great grandmother had 16 biological children! I still remember seeing my great grandma, visiting with her and her sneaking me “old-lady” gummy orange candies covered in sugar when we spent time with her at her house. It was cold, there was snow on the ground in northern New Mexico and we stood around her grave in the snow with bread bags wrapped around our shoes with rubber bands holding them up because we didn’t need snow boots down in southern New Mexico. Before the burial though we had the service and at that service we sang “In the Garden”, a beautiful hymn about intimacy with God. Even though I have never sang that song again with a group of people I have sang it to my Heavenly Father a lot. I have sang it to him since I was a kid and now as an adult I’ve reached the point of intimacy with Him that I cry when I sing that song sometimes because I think about how I really do want to physically walk in a garden with Him. I cry when I think about how our sin has separated us from physically experiencing God’s presence and I wonder how He feels having had to also experience this separation. Adam and Eve used to get to walk with God in the garden during the cool of the day! I really do want to actually physically hear his voice saying my name, oh how beautiful that would be, I really do want to hear his voice, to see his face and to give him a hug with my ear up against his chest, listening to that heart of love beating for me. I really do want to feel his physical arms holding me because Jesus has held me through so many of life’s storms already. I want to physically hear the heart of love so great that He allowed himself to be hung upon a tree for me, that loved me so much that he allowed Himself to be put to shame for me, that loves me so much that He is coming back for me and for everybody that belongs to Him. Jesus our Bridegroom IS coming back for us. We need to be ready.

For Christians within a marriage relationship, longing for intimacy with your spouse and practicing physical oneness with them is a picture of longing for Christ and desiring oneness with Him through the Holy Spirit. That is part of why making physical intimacy a priority is so important. Making intimacy a priority with God is important as well and it requires intentionality. Have you ever experienced a season in life where you felt like you had too much on your plate to spend time pursuing an intimate relationship with God? Where you are so busy, so focused on your to do list that making time to extravagantly love on God just seems too hard, or maybe you sit down to be with God and you just can’t get your mind off those other important responsibilities. It makes pursuing intimacy with Him feel like a religious exercise, or like a frivolous expense of time…but I have found time and time again that when I truly make time with God a priority my life feels more right, like this was what I was made for and the more I spend time with Him the more I realize that life really is about Him and I. Everything else will pass away, but what will remain when I pass into heaven? Jesus. So let’s extravagantly spend time with Him, loving on Him and let’s let other things go. Maybe we need to drop a commitment during the day, or maybe we need to stop watching TV, what can we do in order to make time to be intimate with God? I have also found how God is so gracious, He cares about me getting the dishes done and feeding my family too, when I make Him a priority things fall into place. It is about authority, when we submit to Him things come into place and they work! Life works better with Jesus at the head of our life and to have a healthy relationship with Him we would be wise to pursue intimacy with Him.

In the past few months I have had several women express to me how hard it is for them to experience intimacy with Christ or how much they long for and desire to experience His presence and how they struggle to do so. Intimacy with God is unique for each of us to a certain extent. It all requires the Holy Spirit to connect us into His Presence, and the Bible says that we enter into His presence with thanksgiving and praise….but there are many ways to give thanks to God and to praise Him. For me the conduit that allows me to completely unwind and just praise God without inhibition is the piano. I can spend countless hours on there talking to God to the tune of chords. We can just talk or I can cry or I can sing, I can praise Him and love on Him to the tune of the piano. I end up writing a new song to God on a recurrent basis. Songs that I do not record or write down to share with the world because they are intimate songs, one-time songs in a series of a lifetime of practicing oneness with Him. Just like when a husband and wife come together in physical oneness. Each time might be similar, might be familiar, but each time is different and unique to that moment and it is a chain of all these unique intimate moments that keeps us connected to one another in physical intimacy just like a chain of intimate moments with God keeps us connected to Him in spiritual intimacy.

Because these moments are intimate they are not meant to be shared with the world, only with one other person – our spouse here on earth for physical intimacy or our God in Heaven for spiritual intimacy. The amazing thing about marriage that is under the authority of God’s spirit is that we can enter into God’s presence together and experience that oneness with God together on a regular basis which is a spectacular blessing that sadly evades so many of us. Pursuit of God’s authority together over our lives is the ultimate expression of unity and intimacy together.

After having several women describe to me how it is hard for them to experience oneness with God I have decided to share an edited down version of one of my love songs to my Savior. An impromptu song this is, I did not practice it ahead of time or think of the words either. It is really just in the moment what I think of to sing or say to Him to the tune of the piano. I did have to edit it down because in its raw form it was just way to intimate for me to be ever ok with sharing it so there are a couple of “choppy” points where I cut out parts, also please excuse the piano because it is out of tune and I am a single mom with a current budget that does not allow for me to tune it…and my voice is not the greatest so please forgive that as well…but this is a glimpse at what spiritual intimacy can look like – in part- with our Savior:



 

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The Season of Hagar

“So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” Genesis 21:15-19

This year I obeyed God’s voice and by faith I left an Egypt behind. I fled a slavery that not only I have been bound to for a long time, but generations of my family. When God’s people fled the slavery of Egypt, they had for generations been abused, mistreated and enslaved. However, in order to flee slavery it meant fleeing into the desert, into the wilderness. When Hagar was thrust into the desert with her son she was cast out. We can enter into a desert either by necessity to leave a situation or because we have been rejected and cast out. Either way we find ourselves in a time in our life when we need food, we need water, we need something to wear, we need a safe place to sleep. We need. We need the basic necessities of life. Earlier, when Hagar was pregnant with her son she had fled Sarai because of Sarai’s harsh treatment of her, but it was not yet time for her to leave so God told her to go back. However, the first time Hagar was in the desert was when she met El Roi, The God Who Sees. He sees you. He sees you in the desert. El Roi is in the desert. He can help you.

I recently attended a women’s coffee connection at church and one of the women at my table’s discussion was talking about how she was studying Genesis with her church and how they had focused on hospitality. In ancient times it wasn’t like today. There weren’t gas stations or credit cards, there wasn’t an Amazon or even cars with paved roads. In ancient times hospitality was not just a nice Christian kindness, it was literally about survival. Hospitality and community become a necessary part of survival in the desert.

I have needed the hospitatlity of believers and my local community like never before as a single mom. It takes time to build a new life and as I desperately am working hard at trying to follow God’s lead for laying the foundations and building the walls of my new life I am realizing how my son and I are not going to survive this desert season without help. Somedays I really do feel like Hagar. I am so thankful God delivered me out of Egypt. I am so thankful to no longer be a slave, but I do get weary and I do get discouraged and at times extremely worried about how I am going to make it through the desert. How can my son and I make it to the promised land? Somedays it feels a lot harder being in the desert than other days. On the days when I feel weary and tired, on the days where I feel like I just don’t know how we are going to make it financially, like I’ve poured myself out to the max and things are still not working. On those days I have to remember all that God has done for me and give thanks. Like when the Israelites went three days without water after God’s amazing deliverance at the Red Sea. They went three days without water only to find bitter water. It wasn’t until afterward that God brought them to Elim, where 12 springs of water were waiting for them in the desert. Going those “three days” and finding “bitter water” can feel debilitating and terrifying…but we have to have faith in the God who has proven Himself faithful over and over again. God knew where the 12 springs of water were and he was leading them to those springs. We have to have faith.

“Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters. Exodus 15:27

What was one of the mistakes that God’s people continually made in the desert? Grumbling. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that we have divinely spiritual weapons for the destruction of strongholds. One of those weapons is the weapon of thanksgiving. When we find ourselves in a desert place where it seems like we might not make it, thanksgiving can demolish the strongholds that would keep us trapped in that desert. God doesn’t want us to stay in the desert, if we heed His voice and follow Him then He will get us to the promised land. But, it is really important to give thanks instead of grumbling in the desert. Grumbling in the desert can actually cause us to stay there longer!

Personally, it is hard for me to ask for help. I hate to be an inconvenience or a burden, I don’t want to make people angry or annoyed. However, I am realizing that if I don’t ask for help, we are not going to make it through our desert because there will be times when we’ve “gone three days” and we are in need. Sometimes God will provide for us Himself, other times He will use people. Either way God has prepared a place for my son and I in the desert. He will never tell you to flee an Egypt without preparing the way for you first. If you were cast out, God knew you would be and He prepares the way ahead of time for those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

I cannot even begin to list the number of ways and people that God has sent into the life of my son to prepare the way, and in remarkable “God ways” that just testify to His glory and honor. Like the place we fled to, the day I called to tell her we were coming was the very day after her roommate told her she was moving on. Perfect timing happens when God is writing our story. Or the bed I got just this week for my son, a solid wood, hand-made sleigh style toddler bed. I needed one for my son and someone “happened” to ask if anyone needed a toddler bed. Really? Things like that don’t just happen. God is with us.

What it comes down to for each of us is are we really going to rely on El Roi or are we going to go back to Egypt. When the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his armies chasing after them they cried out “…it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness”. In other words “it would have been better to be in my comfort zone, preserve my pride, have more money, all of my Christmas decorations, my beloved possessions and…be mistreated and abused…than to die in the wilderness trying to get away”*. What was Moses’ response?

Do not fear. Stand by. See the salvation of the LORD.

If we choose to continue to follow Jesus to the promised land then it is going to be on His terms and sometimes that means being humbled and accepting something you would never have accepted in Egypt, and other times means being so incredibly blessed that you feel like a queen or a king in the desert!

When we are in need we can cry out to El Roi and stand on precedence in scripture and boldly come before that throne of grace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6”

I think it is important to notate that a person can make a really big difference in our lives even if they only help us one time for our whole life, that was their role that God sent them to play in our lives, that is it. Other people will have much larger roles that last for a longer season or even for a lifetime. However, every single one of them was part of God’s plan in your life to give you a hope and a future as Jeremiah 29:11 talks about. We also get to be a part of other people’s lives, whether it is just for one time or for a lot of times. God gives us a hope and a future, if we surrender to Him and trust Him He will help us.

“You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance. The place O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.” Exodus 14:17

References and Notes:
*Pharaohs don’t typically just let their people go. The most dangerous time for a woman (not sure for a man) fleeing an abusive relationship is when she leaves. If she is lured back by her abuser’s remorse and sorrow or by the wealth and comfort of Egypt the manipulation and control and the abuse for both a woman or a man is likely to get even worse because the abuser realizes that their prey could get brave enough to leave. It is important to have a plan and to work with a professional or the domestic abuse hotline if at all possible. The Lord is our Deliver but we have to take steps of faith, He meets us there.

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Jubilee is Coming

In 2014 God gave me a model for how to effectively teach the Bible to both teenagers and kids at once. I would write a Bible study to go with the weekend’s church-wide topic and then the teenagers would do the study and then apply what they learned by writing a puppet skit and performing it. It was a great way to help make sure the teenagers understood what they had learned as we carefully tried to make sure that the scripts honored God’s revealed truth through scripture. It was also a great way for the kids to learn on Sunday because puppets are an extremely fun and effective module for children to learn through. In January 2016, as I was working on a Bible Study about communion the Lord helped me see something in scripture that I had never seen before. He showed me how the season of singleness, when we are waiting for God to match us with our spouse, can be a picture of how we are waiting for our heavenly Bridegroom. We are waiting for Jesus to come back to earth. We aren’t just waiting for Him, we are longing for His return and we desire Him, as David wrote in the Psalms, as the deer pants after the water we pant for Christ. Whether we are a teenager or an adult, if we are experiencing this thirst for our spouse from God’s will for our lives then we can actually be an example or use our longing for our future spouse on earth to help us teach about the longing for Jesus, our Bridegroom. I remember how excited I was for this new revelation and wishing I had realized this when I was a teenager because I could have used my singleness for God’s glory in that capacity. I was in a marriage covenant and never imagined that I would ever be single again, or at least for a very long time. I thought the opportunity for this witness had passed so here I was excitedly telling teenagers about how awesome it was that they could use their time of singleness as they wait for their future spouse to bring glory to God. Here is the excerpt from the study:

Isaiah 61:10 side-note: Just as the bridegroom and bride are pure while waiting for the marriage covenant, so are we, the church to actively abide in purity/ righteousness while waiting for our bridegroom (the second coming of Christ). Just as the bride/bridegroom are pure in their bodies, God makes us, our souls, a pure, brand-new creation through the imputed righteousness of Christ when we are saved. God adorns, or spiritually clothes us, in His beautiful righteousness. Purity is beautiful, the purity of Christ protects us from God’s wrath and it also is revealed through us as a light to the world as we are transformed to bear His fruit. (To view the whole study check it out here: CommunionPart2 (2)).

Fast forward 3 years and here I am, single, and God has taken me up on how excited I was about how my life as a single could be used to show and teach others how we are all waiting for the Bridegroom’s return. For the return of Jesus.

I mentioned a few weeks ago in my blog “Remember How Beautiful You Are” that God has called me into a new covenant with Him to be a eunuch for 7 years for His kingdom and His glory. He has also called me to allow this season of my life to be a picture of how, just as I long for my future bridegroom, I also long for THE Bridegroom, for Jesus.

In 2013 God promised me that I would have a daughter named Jubilee someday. She has yet to be born and I believe her name also has to do with pointing toward the second coming of Christ….when “lands” that Jesus has purchased will be returned to Him, the rightful owner (us, His children and our physical lands and nations we represent).

I was recently listening to an old playlist of worship music on my computer, “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble” by Hillsong came up and I noticed the lyrics at one point say:

“And here we see that God, you’re moving
A time of jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide you heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord”

A part of waiting for for Jesus is to prepare the way for Him under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He will do things and lead us in ways that we might not even realize is all about preparing us for Himself. In fact, if we submit to the written will of God’s plan for our lives then that means He began working in our lives before we even existed because he wrote about us before we even lived one day. I personally believe this means even our first day in utero after conception. Psalm 139:16 says that before we even lived one day that God had written and ordained all of our days — we must submit to His story for our lives. 

How can we prepare the way for the return of Jesus? By fulfilling the great commission. When young and old return to Jesus we are paving the way for His return. In fact the Bible says that Jesus will not return until every tongue and nation has heard the gospel. When young and old return to Jesus it creates jubilee, lost souls are being returned to their rightful owner, to Christ their creator! Jubilee prepares the way for the risen Lord, for Jesus.

I just learned in church this past weekend that there are 3 billion people in the world that have never heard the gospel or the name of Jesus at all…these are referred to as the unreached. The passion of Christ is to come for his bride, His bride must be prepared and made ready for her King, for Jesus to come for her.

Are you ready for Jesus to come back? What are we doing to prepare the way for His return?

One organization that I highly recommend getting involved with for this mission is “Teach to Transform“. It is headquartered in Louisville, KY and focuses on sending medical, agriculture and other professionals out into the mission field to teach basic skills to local Christians and empower them to then use these skills to gain access to sharing the gospel within their own culture. This has led to exponential growth as local Christians across the globe have been able to bring the gospel to unreached communities simply by being able to deliver babies or take blood pressure for example. This prevents burn-out for missionaries as well as preventing reliance on western culture. The locals know their culture, their language and dialects, they know so much more and when they are empowered they can bring the gospel in powerful ways. I attended a dinner recently for this organization and was blown away by the numbers of people their model is reaching as well as how fast it is growing and reaching the unreached populations which are their focus.

Let’s prepare the way for our Bridegroom. A time of Jubilee is coming!



References:

Teach to Transform

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