Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Blessing of Obedience

I wanted to share with you all a very interesting experience I had this afternoon.  I had noticed a friend of mine was working on a paper, and she had asked me if I could answer a questionnaire. I saw it was a mass email, so I decided to wait and respond until after InsideOut.  

Much to my surprise today, I saw that the questionnaire was concerning our views on abstinence before marriage.  In the world we live in today, I realize that I am one of very few who believes in waiting until marriage.  Out of the few that believe in it, I was one of the even fewer who (by the grace of God), was able to wait.  

It was such an enlightening experience to be able to explain on my questionnaire the benefits of waiting until being in a committed marriage relationship to explore those levels of intimacy.  Working through her questionnaire, I really was able to see and explore some of the many benefits Matt and I have experienced due to waiting until marriage.  Even today, almost six months later, I'm so thankful we made that decision...and I'm even more thankful for the accountability of a few friends who stuck with us through our dating and engagement seasons.  Furthermore, I'm just thankful to God for giving us the grace and means (even if that meant living across continents) to live out what we believed was the right thing in our hearts.  

I can't even begin to explain to people the firm foundation that abstinence prior to marriage sets for couples.  Maybe this is something that people are familiar with, but for me, it didn't truly make sense until I was on the other side of the fence.  I wish that I could have understood prior to marriage the positives...I'm sure I would have been even more careful in guarding my purity...but I must say, God's Word is spot on in why it begs for people not to engage in what it labels as sexual immorality.  I can truly say with confidence that God wants this act to stay in marriage because it is such a blessing on us if we wait.  

I have a hunch that my experience with abstinence and purity will be similar with other commands that God gives.  They may not make so much sense now, but once I get to the other side of the fence, I will experience blessing beyond measure.  

It's moments like these that define my paradigm and relationship with God.  It makes sense that God credits our faith to us as righteousness...because, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  If you love someone, you trust them, even when what they ask of you doesn't quite make sense.  What better way to manifest our love towards someone than trusting them over all others?  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To keep it organized (which I fail to do when I blog), I am going to number the big points of interest over the last month.  Then you can pick and choose what is important for you!

1) InsideOut:  It went really well!  We had it on the 16 of October and launched our small groups that week.  I am working with my friend Tamara with the grade 10-12 girls.  It was really awesome to get to know them a little better, and I look forward to working more with those girls in the coming years.  The crazy thing was that we had 23 grade 10-12 boys!  Typically, youth events have more females than males, but that hasn't been the case with us.  It's really awesome to see a significant portion of those young men excited about deepening their relationship with Jesus.  I can't even begin to imagine the positive influence these men will have on their future families if they continue on this road.  It's such a blessing to be the means that God is using to guide these teenagers.  

We also did a hip hop dance at InsideOut that my friend Brendon and I choreographed.  There were five of us.  We began working on this dance in August, so it was nice to see the fruit of our labor.  Lots of positive feedback came from that.  

The last thing was our fashion show that we did.  It was absolutely hilarious!  We had all the teens bring in their old clothing and we dressed our small group leaders up and paraded them through the building.  We're donating their clothes to an organization called The Warehouse.  It was a great way to help those who have little but also have fun in the process.  

We have our next InsideOut the 13 of November!

2) Books:  Matt and I have found something more engrossing than the internet or the television...Ted Dekker's Circle Trilogy.  They're just impossible to put down.  I just finished the third book in the trilogy only to find out that there is actually a fourth book (a prequel).  The books, although their fiction, really focus on the idea that just because one cannot see something does not mean that it is not there or that that unseen thing cannot have effects.  I love the line at the end when the protagonist says, "The battle over flesh and blood cannot compare to the battle for the heart."  For me, it helped me especially in considering the afterlife, since the concept of death scares me so much!  Anyway, they're not the most profound books in the world, but certainly entertaining!

3) Musings:  I've been thinking about pride a lot lately...where and how it manifests in my life, how to subdue it, how it affects my relationships with others.  Frankly, it's just mind-blowing how sneaky pride can be.  Pride can look like fear or insecurity, or it can look like something really good, too!  I was reading about Saul and his decision to disobey God and not kill all the animals in Amelek in 1 Sam. 15.  God had told him to "Go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all they have.  Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."  But Saul decides to leave the best animals alive and sacrifice them to God.  Samuel comes in and sees what is happening and is just like "Saul, what are you doing?!  This is not what God told you to do."  After a little banter, Samuel says the line we've all heard, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of the rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry."  I'd never really taken that in context before to try and understand it, but what I really gleaned from my reading is that on the outside, Saul's decision didn't look like a bad one.  In fact, it looked like a logical, wise decision.  It looked like he had the best intentions in mind (the people will be happy with my decision, God gets sacrifices, everybody wins).  But in fact, it was the opposite of what God had asked him to do.  And that all goes back to pride, because pride is thinking that we know better than what God says for us to do.  I couldn't help but think of all the times that I knew what I was supposed to do (be patient, rejoice, don't grumble, consider others better than myself, pray), and yet I try to reason with God and say, "But God, your commands are really illogical; I think my plan of how to deal with this situation is better.  In fact, it's probably wiser."  When I really got to the root of it, I realized that all of that inside of me was just pride.  So, I've been thinking a lot about this lately and praying that God reveals to me areas of pride in my life.  It's just not healthy to have that pride, and it really seems to hinder what God wants to do with us.  

Anyway, that's about it on this side of the ocean.  InsideOut, Ted Dekker, and pride.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, has filled my life for the past few weeks!  Hope everyone has a splendid day.  And all of my friends in America, go look at the trees as they change colors for me and enjoy them!