Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sanctity of Life

This month is traditionally set aside as Sanctitiy of Life month in churches across this country. I realize that the sanctity of life should be on our minds daily but I am thankful there is a concentrated effort in the church to pause and contemplate this issue for a while (corporately).

I had the priveledge of stepping into leadership at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center a few years ago. I cannot tell you how that year changed my life. Each girl brought with her a unique situation. Some had been gang raped, some were married, some carried stories that they will keep secret forever. Their situations were different but one thing they shared - a decision. A hard decision. This blog post is not for debating the right choice and the wrong choice, although I make no apologies for fighting for the life of unborn babies. This blog is to tell the story of a husband and wife who made a tough decision. It is told by my friend, Ivy. I will let you read for yourself why she is passionate about the sanctity of life...

Written October 5, 2010 by Ivy Laing

in 9 minutes, it will be Jamie's 19th birthday.

and in these 19 years I have seen His faithfulness like some people will never get to see.

oh, she will lay on a bed her whole life? Jesus proved them wrong.
oh, she will have seizures the rest of her life? Jesus used an amazing doctor to prove them wrong.
oh, she doesn't understand what is going on? anyone who meets Jamie obviously knows that Jesus proves them wrong daily.

she is perfect. how could she not be? she was created in His image. He made everything perfect in her body. every single DNA strand was knit together by our Creator. ever single brain cell was placed there by Him. and we don't doubt that. because He sees the whole story and we don't. He sees the glory He is receiving even in this very hour because of Jamie's life.

has it been a bed of roses? no. do we try to fake being a perfect family? once again, we can't even attempt that one. do we know that He chose us for this crazy journey? yes. and I take great hope in that. to know that He thought or knew we were able WITH Him to handle these 19 years and me such peace.

I cannot wait until the day she walks and talks but until then I will hold to the hope that God is using her now. her perserverance can inspire. her smile will push others to strive for their dreams. and her love...the love that kisses strangers on the hand as they open the door...that love WILL CHANGE OUR WORLD. don't ever doubt what our God can do through a willing vessel. and Jamie is a willing vessel.

why not us?

it is a privilege and an honor to call Jamie Leigh Laing my baby sister. I have never been prouder.

and yes, she still sits in my lap.
and yes, some nights I "rock" her to sleep. you tell me you wouldn't do the same?! (that's what I thought:)

i will count and sort bears until she wants to quit. i will sing to her even though she laughs. and I will spoil her...just because I can.

happy birthday,
sissy. you mean the world to us.

and tomorrow...our discussion in class will be about why does misery happen to good people. we will talk about Job.

because He chooses us. :) and I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

God's Seal on Our Hearts

I am supposed to be writing a blog entry right now for our Journey Through the Psalms series but during my time in God’s word this morning my socks were blessed right off my feet and I want to tell you why.

Before I get into the meat of what I discovered this morning I want to ask you a question. How secure do you feel about how much Jesus Christ loves YOU? Don’t answer too quickly. Think about it. A lot of people I know struggle with believing God loves so-and-so but not believing He loves them as much. I used to deal with this on a daily basis. I saw the blessings of God on the lives of others and came to the conclusion that He loved them but He only tolerated me. My jealousy over their accomplishments helped to fuel this wrong thinking. I knew I was jealous and I could suppress it for a little while but it always came back…and usually with a vengeance. The acknowledgement of my jealousy did nothing to fix the problem. There was only one thing that set me free from the captivity of that wrong thinking and that was learning/knowing/experiencing the truth about God’s love.

God used many scriptures to wash my heart and mind with His truth and many of those scriptures pointed to one thing consistently: His love FOR me has nothing to do WITH me. It was initiated BY Him and FOR Him. In my warped mind I had determined that the reason God loved so-and-so more than me was because they performed better for Him. I’m not talking about performance on a stage. I’m talking about performance in life…they knew His word better, they prayed more, they served more, they had better functioning families…you get the picture? When I got my theology and doctrine straight God blew those things out of the water and my relationship with Him became intimate and personal. And now, when God reveals nuggets of scripture to me to back up the work He did in my heart several years ago, I can’t help but praise Him from an overflowing heart of thankfulness and gratitude. Ok…now, on to what He showed me.

2 Timothy 2:19 says, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” A very brief background on this scripture. Paul was writing to Timothy for a few reasons, one of which was to be aware of false teaching that was spreading at the time...hence the use of “nevertheless”. But what I want to focus on are the seals.

Seal #1 – “The Lord knows those who are His” – the word “know” in this verse doesn’t refer to factual knowledge but as a husband knows his wife…an intimate relationship. When I think of His love for me in those terms the only reference point I have is my relationship with Scott. There is no other person on this earth, and never will be, that knows me like him. He knows my dreams. He knows my hurts. He knows what brings me joy in life. He knows my insecurities. He knows my failures. Not only does he know these things, he loves me so much that he cares about them. He has concern for me. And his love for me is personal. He doesn’t love a single person on earth the way He loves ME. How much more is God’s love for me! Think about it!

Seal #2 - “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” – John MacArthur says, “this statement is likely adapted from Numbers 16:26, and reflects a second mark of God’s ownership of believers, which is their pursuit of holiness.” If I ever have moments of not feeling good enough for God this second seal drives those moments away. Oh, it would be different if our holiness depended on us…but again, it doesn’t. When the blood of Jesus was shed for the atonement of our sin God began to see us through that crimson flow that justified us before Him. We don’t have to be overachievers and high performers in life to be holy…because of Jesus Christ we are holy.

As I was reading about these seals and thinking about how God places them on us, a song came to mind. If you are from Greenbriar, you know this song well. If you aren’t it will be posted at the end of this blog. What is important about the song is that it’s straight from scripture. Song of Solomon 8:5-7 says, “Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love it would be utterly despised.” In this verse Solomon is speaking to the Shulamite woman but it is a good picture of Christ wooing us. Inviting us. Wanting to place His seal over our hearts. One more quick note from MacArthur and I’m done. He says about love in this verse: “This represents the 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 of the Old Testament. Four qualities of love appear…

• Love is unyielding in marriage as death is to life
• Love is intense like the brightest flame, perhaps as bright as the glory of the Lord
• Love is invincible or unquenchable, even when flooded by difficulty
• Love is so priceless that it cannot be bought, only given away”

…and if you bear the name of Jesus Christ you do so under the banner of His love. And His love for you…it’s intensely personal. Notice that Paul also says that God's foundation is FIRM. You are secure in His love! Spend some time with Him in prayer and worship.