Friday, February 20, 2009

Don’t Worry About Him – He’s Only God....

Something the preacher said at my church recently really made me think. He was talking about giving your best to the Lord – not just your “good enough” or your “whatever” – but your absolute BEST. To make his point, he said it this way: “Go ahead and live how you want. He only created Heaven for you for all eternity. He only died for you. He was only beat to a pulp and hung on a cross for the sins of the world – He who knew no sin. So you just go ahead and live any old way you want. Don’t worry about Him – He’s only God.”

I was drawn to tears as I began to picture (as I often do) my Savior hanging on the cross. I began to recall all the times I’ve disappointed Him – there were so many… and these were only the immediate ones I could think of off the top of my head. I could picture each failure of mine as another pounding of the hammer on one of the nails that were driven into His hands and feet. And He wasn’t on that cross for any other reason than for me – for my sin. Oh, how I’ve hurt Him. I’ve not given Him all that He deserves from me – my whole life as a willing vessel to serve Him any way He should choose.

The invitational hymn our song leader chose for the close of that service was “Have Thine Own Way Lord”. How fitting – and such a beautiful hymn of surrender.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Savior today!
Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
As in thy presence humbly I bow.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

The Creator of the ends of the earth – the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End – the Rose of Bethlehem – the King of Kings – the Lamb of God – the Redeemer of fallen man – Almighty God – the great I AM… and He’s my friend.

Even at my best I am unworthy. I have nothing precious I can give.
A broken life is all I have to offer – and yet, it is a priceless gift to Him.
The bitter mark of sin will never fade away –
But I can come before Him unashamed – For…
I stand redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. I stand redeemed before the great I AM.
When He looks at me He sees the nail-scarred hands that bought my liberty.
I stand redeemed.

I Grew In Her Tummy

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
.............................................~ Isaiah 55:8, 9 (KJV)

A story I once heard as a child seemed (to me) a mirror of my very own life. It told of a little girl who had been adopted. When another child asked her what “adopted” meant, she replied: “It means I grew in my mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.” That little girl’s answer has inspired me throughout the years, and this is my story.

It was a warm, sunny, August day in 1987 when Trudy met Russell at C.J. Barrymore’s. Some would call it “love at first sight”, some would call it “fate”, others perhaps might call it “luck”; but had you asked me, I would have called it “a mistake just waiting to happen.” They hadn’t known each other that long, but it happened – Trudy got pregnant. When she told Russ that she was going to have a baby he did what any man who didn’t want a commitment would do. (Well, maybe his reaction was a little extreme…) He fled the country. He packed up all his belongings, including his trailer home, and he and his father moved back to Yugoslavia. Unsure what she should do, she hid her pregnancy from her mother. What could she say? How would her mother react? Would she kick her out of the house? Should she keep the baby? Like a gloomy storm cloud, questions seemed to hover over her life. When the time came that she could no longer conceal her protruding tummy, she broke the news to her mother. Again, the questions seemed unending – this time coming from her mother. After some time went by, Trudy made her decision. She simply couldn’t keep the baby. After all, she was a high school drop-out. She had no job. She still lived with her mother. She had no way to provide for her baby. She contacted Family Christian Services to inform them that she was going to have a baby, but wished to give it up for adoption. She then went to the adoption agency to fill out the proper paperwork. Not long afterwards her baby was born on May 24, 1988. Without ever having the chance to say hello to her baby girl, she said goodbye. She informed the adoption agency that she did not want her baby floating around from foster home to foster home and eventually end up in an orphanage somewhere. If a permanent home wasn’t found for her baby within 8 weeks, she wanted her baby back. The adoption agency agreed to these terms. However, almost 8 weeks to the day later, a home was found for “Baby Girl”. Overjoyed, like a child who had just received 4 pounds of candy, Larry and Nora Vires drove to the adoption agency to pick up their “new-born” 8-weeks-old baby girl. I am Baby Girl.

“Hurry, honey! Grab her and run before the agency changes their minds!” Larry joyfully said when he first saw me. I had a full, thick head of hair that was dark as night, and ‘precious moments’ baby blue eyes. My tiny, delicate, 5-pound figure was like that of a porcelain doll.

“Wait! Wait! We need to take pictures!” the agency workers called out to Larry.

After the pictures had been taken and the final paperwork had been filled out, Larry and Nora were able to take me to my new home where I met my big brother for the first time. He was so proud.

Years passed, and the fact that I was adopted was never hid from me. At first, I didn’t really care because I really didn’t understand; I told my friend that Nora was my “stepmom” because I knew she wasn’t my real mother. However, as the years went on I began to understand what it meant to be adopted. In my mind it meant that I wasn’t wanted. I wasn’t good enough. My “mother” didn’t love me enough to keep me. These feelings continued and grew as time passed. Until one day it became so unbearable that it broke my 15-year-old heart in pieces. No one seemed to understand why I felt this way. After all, I had a wonderful family. My mom and dad cared about me, and wanted the best for me. Somehow, though, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted answers. I wanted reasons. I wanted the truth I thought I deserved. I didn’t get my answers, reasons, or truth that night, but I did find something so much greater than all those things. I found forgiveness. I found peace. I found love in my heart for the mother whom I thought didn’t want me. I determined then that I would set out to find her one day.

As a sailboat being slowly but steadily pushed through the sea, the years slowly but steadily moved on, and I became a confident, accomplished young women. I graduated high school with a 3.98, was a private piano teacher with 15 years of experience under my belt, carried a major part of the music ministry department of our church on my shoulders, was an avid athlete, and was even quite artistic and creative, as well as wrote music and poetry. Mom and Dad were proud of me, which, in turn, made me proud of myself. Fearing that I would hurt my parents, I never told them that I wanted to meet my biological mother. I feared they would think I wanted to leave them and go back to “the mother that didn’t want me in the first place.” So, I went on to college in Tennessee in August of 2006. After I completed my first year of college I felt it was time I had talked to my parents about the desire I had to find my biological mother. Surprisingly, they were more supportive than I thought they would be. In fact, my mom gave me a bundle of letters for me to read. As I read them I realized these were letters my birth mother had written my parents throughout the years. The adoption agency encouraged such correspondence, so long as the proper rules were followed. The letters must be written to the agency to then be forwarded on to the appropriate location. The letters couldn’t include any names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Even pictures of the adopted child were allowed to be sent to the biological mother, so long as they were older pictures. As I read each of the heart-breaking, honest letters I realized that giving me up was no easy task for Trudy, but she did it for me. She sacrificed her own wants because she knew she could not provide for me and give me all the things a child needs. In a way, she became my hero that night.

The next day I went about trying to locate her. I called the agency, looked online, and even checked in phone books (though that didn’t do me much good since I didn’t even know her name). After about 4 months of searching, I found her. I wrote her a letter explaining who I was and that I hoped to meet her one day. About a week after sending out that letter my cell phone rang around 8:30 that night. I didn’t recognize the number.

“Hello?” I answered the ever-annoying device that was disrupting a very good romance novel. There was no answer.

“Hello??” I asked again, a little less tactful. Still nothing was said. My book awaited, and just as I was about to hang up the phone I heard a voice.

“Hello…” the voice said quietly, “I’m looking for Heather… Vrees? Virus?” She stumbled through the pronunciation of my ever-so-easy, yet difficult last name.

“I’m Heather Vires…” I answered.

“Oh… hello. I’m your… my name is… This is… your mother…” her shaky voice was hesitant and sounded almost unsure of who she really was. My book dropped to the floor, and my slouched back became as straight as a board.

“Are you serious? Are you really? Is it really you? Oh my gosh…” despite all that I said, I really was quite speechless. For 19 years I waited for this moment, and now I sounded like a rambling, babbling idiot.

After about a half-hour of conversation and I had found out that she had a little girl and a little boy, a date was set for us to meet face to face for the first time. My hands shaking with excitement, and tears (the happy kind) streaming down my face, I ran out into the living room.

“You will never guess who that was on the phone! It was her… my birth mother!” I shouted to my parents. Though quiet, they were happy for me. This was what I wanted.

On October 13, 2007, I met the woman who had conceived and carried me in her tummy for 9 months. To say that I look like her is a major understatement. I am her spitting image from head to toe. My little sister, Chauntel, and my little brother, Steven, were so excited to meet big sister for the first time. It was never hid from them that somewhere out there in the world they had a big sister. The family included me in everything they did even though I was not physically present. My name was painted on the back of Grandpa’s semi-truck right along side the rest of the grandkids’ names. Only, mine read “Baby Girl” – the name my biological family called me for 19 years. My newborn picture hung on Grandma’s picture board right along with all the other grandkids’ pictures. My name was even tattooed on my biological mother’s back along with Chauntel’s and Steven’s names.

I was happy to finally meet my biological mother, but I found that I was even happier that she made the choice she did. She was a chain smoker, practically an alcoholic, had two crappy jobs that barely paid the bills, and was in the middle or a sticky divorce with a man that was an alcoholic, drug addict, and an abuser. To be honest, it wasn’t a pretty scene. The rose-colored glasses quickly came off, and I had never in all my life been more thankful for the family that had adopted me. They were my real family.

You know, I got my answers. I got my reasons. I even got the truth I thought I deserved. The truth was that I would have grown up without a father. The truth was that I would have been a drug addict. The truth was that I would have been a drunk. The truth was that I would have been a high school drop-out, and an unmarried, teenage mother. The truth was that God had mercy on me. God saw fit to hand-pick me out of the mud and give me a home that would raise me right, and in the light of His Word. That was my truth.

Everything happens for a reason; and though sometimes we have to wait 19 years to see that reason, I have found that it’s worth the wait. My biological family and I still keep in touch, and I go to their family gatherings. I call them by all the appropriate family titles, but it isn’t the same. My mother, Trudy, carried me in her tummy for 9 months; but my mom, Nora, carried me in her heart from the moment she first saw me. I couldn’t ask for more; I won’t ask for more. I’ve been blessed beyond measure, and I’m so thankful.

“…But where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound.”
..........................~ Romans 5:20b (KJV)

One Nation Under God

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

One nation under God… UNDER God ---- hm, that’s funny. If we’re a nation that supposedly “under God” then why have we taken prayer out of the school system? Why have we legalized abortion yet fight to legalize cloning? Why are we pushing for euthanasia but have called the death penalty inhumane? Why is prostitution illegal, but strip clubs are okay? Even some uses of certain drugs have been legalized by our court system. The Declaration of Independence says:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But my question is how can we have “life” when it is no longer viewed as precious and a gift because millions of babies have met their Holy God long before their rightful time? How can we have “liberty” when the actions of people cause them to live with guilt constantly hanging over their head? There is no liberty when there is guilt from sin. How can we have “happiness” when there is neither life nor liberty?

“America, America! God shed His grace on thee!” What a powerful song – one in which the writer first refers to his country as “Beautiful” before he called her by name. America IS beautiful – the freedom she stands for and the foundation she was built upon makes her beautiful; yet what she is allowing herself to become is not beautiful. I love my country, but I do not love what she is becoming.

“God bless America, land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her through the night with the light from above!” So we want Almighty God’s guidance, but we do not want His ruling over us? Sounds like an impossibility to me. I wonder if the singers truly know what they’re saying when they sing this song… most likely not. How different our nation would be if we truly still longed to walk in the ways of God – if we truly still longed to have the Lord “stand beside” us and “guide” us. God HAS blessed America, and I pray He will continue to have mercy on us and continue to bless our native land.

Shocking Statistics: Teens

I was looking at the Victorious Valley Girls website ( and I found these shocking statistics:

Every Day In America...
- 2,989 children witness the divorce of their parents
- 3,288 teenagers will run away from home
- 6 teenagers will commit suicide
- 438 teenagers will be arrested for drinking
- 211 teenagers will be arrested for drug-related crimes
- 2,861 teenagers will drop out of school
- 1,629 teenagers are placed in an adult jail for some reason
- 7,742 teenagers become sexually active
- 1,106 teenage girls become pregnant
- 8,219 teenagers acquire a sexually transmitted disease

How sad is this? America has come so far… wait! Not just America, but the human race. We have taken out eyes of the Truth and the Way and now look at what is happening within the younger generation! When did this all happen? Gradually. With every compromise and every “oh, we’ll just let it slide this time” and every “but they’re kids… they’ll make mistakes” – and THIS is the consequence of such actions. There’s no one to place the blame on but ourselves. Granted, no one is above falling; but how about getting back up after you fall! There’s a steady that waits to help put you back on your feet again; and once you’re back on your feet, you’ll be able to help and encourage others. The teens of America (and the world) need us. They need someone to understand, to care, to love them, to help them, to support them, to show them what’s right, to lead them, and to point them to Jesus. BUT before you go out and change the world, you should start with the teenagers in your youth group – they need someone just as much as the homeless one does. And remember: “before you start talking to people about God – first, get on your knees and talk to God about those people.

Abortion: the Murder of the Unborn

A young girl sat in the doctor’s office in shock as her mind wildly flashed her life before her eyes. She was so young – too young to be thinking about providing for a baby. What would her boyfriend say? Would he break up with her? She couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. Her parents would be so disappointed in her if they only knew. The doctor spoke, bringing her back to reality. He began explaining the different “options” she could choose from. One option was to keep the baby. Another was to give it up for adoption. However, there was a third option – abortion. She was always taught that abortion was wrong; it was murder – the killing of an unborn baby. But maybe it isn’t so bad. Besides, what proof was there that it was actually a “baby” until it was born? Abortion seemed like the logical way to go. It would be the “easy” thing to do. No one would ever have to know. Isn’t it her choice – her body?

Although there are many different methods of abortion that fall either under medical, surgical, and chemical abortions, I’m only going to mention a few of them. When people think of an abortion, they simply think of getting rid of the “fetus” that’s growing inside a woman – a “blob of tissue”, a bunch a cells “smushed” together trying to form a human, something that isn’t alive yet. People don’t really know all that goes on with an abortion. They don’t know the gruesomeness behind what takes place – it’s sickening, it’s brutal, and it’s murder. Methotrexate is a drug that is injected into the womb that is a highly toxic chemical. It directly attacks and breaks down the baby’s fast-growing cells and also attacks the life-support system the baby needs to survive. When the baby’s system fails, he dies. Another drug (Misoprostol) is then injected which is used to cause contractions that will push the dead baby out of the womb. Salt Poisoning (or more commonly known as “Saline”) is another method of abortion. A needle containing salt is injected into the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. When the baby breathes in and swallows the salt it causes dehydration, brain hemorrhage, and convulsions which eventually kill. However, it takes the baby nearly an hour to die – which means the mother can feel the baby thrashing in pain inside her womb as his skin is completely burned, turned red, and deteriorated. Within 24 to 48 hours the mother goes into labor and delivers her dead baby. There is yet another way to abort a baby. In this method, called Suction Aspiration which is most often used during the first three months, an abortionist inserts a suction tube with an extremely sharp end into the mother’s womb. The suction and cutting edge dismember the baby while the hose sucks the body parts into a collection bottle. Dilation and Extraction (also known as D&X or “Partial Birth Abortion”) takes place well into the third trimester. The abortionist reaches into the mother’s womb, grabs the baby’s feet with forceps, and pulls the baby out of the mother, except for the head. The abortionist then jams a pair of scissors into the back of the baby’s head and spreads the scissors apart to make a hole in the baby’s skull. The abortionist inserts a suction tube into that hole and sucks the baby’s brains out. The forceps are then used to crush the baby’s head and the abortionist is then able to finish removing the baby from the mother. The last abortion method I want to mention is called Hysterotomy. Performed in the third trimester, this is basically an abortive C-section. The abortionist makes an incision in the mother’s abdomen and removes the baby. The baby is either placed off to the side to die or is killed by the abortionist or nurse. Babies have been born at this stage of the pregnancy and lived. If the baby has to be placed to the side and left to die, or the abortionist has to kill it in order to make the abortion complete, doesn’t that sound a little too much like murder? It is. Indeed, there are many other methods of abortions, but for time’s sake I will not mention them.

So then at what point does a baby begin its life? Does it begin at birth? Does it begin at conception? How do we really know? The lifecycle of a baby from conception to birth is quite amazing – actually, the word “miracle” would better describe what takes place. During the first four weeks of pregnancy, the sperm forms a zygote (the basic form of life) which fertilizes the egg. Within five to eight weeks, the mother exhibits the early signs of pregnancy that is confirmed by the medical tests. By week six, the baby's heart starts to beat, and by week eight the baby develops rudimentary limbs. From week nine to twelve the mother’s body starts expanding to accommodate the growing baby with his growing body parts. During this time the mother starts experiencing a time of subsiding nausea or “morning sickness”. Between weeks thirteen to sixteen the baby's bones begin to harden and he starts moving around in his mommy’s tummy! The baby’s heartbeat can be heard during the visit to the doctor. During weeks seventeen to twenty the baby's internal organs start developing rapidly. The baby gets covered with soft fine hairs called lanugos. During this time an accurate gender of the baby can be checked! From weeks twenty-one to twenty-four the mother will feel slight contractions as her uterus starts preparing for the delivery. The baby begins to practice breathing so he is prepared for it at the time of birth. The baby also develops fat deposits in order to regulate body temperature at the time of birth. By weeks twenty-four to twenty-eight the baby can hear muffled outside sounds and can sense light. Due to the lack of space in the uterus, the baby’s movement starts slowing down. During weeks twenty-nine to thirty-two the baby's head rapidly grows in proportion to the rest of his body, and the brain and eyes are almost fully developed with only the lungs still needing development. From weeks thirty-three to thirty-six the baby grows to the approximate length of sixteen inches and weighs about four pounds. He can open and close his eyes, and his fingernails start growing at this stage as well. When weeks thirty-seven to forty finally arrive the baby's major organs are fully developed and his lungs grow to prepare for breathing outside the womb. The baby will soon drop to the birthing stage in the pelvis. The actual delivery time could be two weeks before or after the expected due date. Either way, Mommy had better be prepared for the arrival of her little bundle of joy! The cycle of life for a conceived child is truly amazing! Life starts from conception – how can there be any doubt?

Now, one may ask, “What about the girl who was raped? What about the girl who is pregnant because of incest?” Neither of those circumstances happened because the woman wanted them to occur. Maybe she has poor health, and going into labor or having a C-section could be detrimental to her health. Maybe she’s homeless, or without a job – both make her “unfit” to be a mother. None of these are good excuses to take the life belonging to another human. I suppose the final argument would then be that since it’s the mother’s body it’s her choice. Technically though, whose body is it really? The mother’s body isn’t the one being ripped from its source of life and aborted – the baby’s body is. The little baby didn’t choose to be conceived anymore than the mother chose to conceive him; but if the mother gets a choice, shouldn’t the baby? Indeed, I believe it’s beyond safe to assume that the baby would rather have his fair chance at life. There are other options. Why does someone have to die? Two wrongs never make a right. There are millions of families that want to have children, and for whatever reasons are unable to. They long for the baby that another person longs to abort. I have always found it interesting that when a woman has a "planned" pregnancy and is excited about being pregnant – or even an unexpected pregnancy and wants to raise her child – she calls the life inside of her a "baby" from conception (and rightly so). Whereas, a women who plans to abort the life inside of her calls it a "fetus". What makes a “baby” different from a “fetus”? Nothing – Except the emotions and the conscience of the mother. No matter how you look at it - it's still a baby. When someone kills a pregnant woman, they are charged with 2 counts of murder. Yet if a woman chooses to abort her baby, it’s okay; she is not charged with murder. What makes it "okay" – just the fact that she made the choice to kill her baby, and not someone else? It's not okay. It will never be okay to take a human life.

As a warning, should the mother decide to go through with the abortion there are some things she better consider first – like the physical and emotional issues she will have due to the abortion. Some of the problems that women who have had an abortion tend to face afterwards are heavy bleeding and complications with anesthesia which could result in death, sadness, long-term grief reactions, anger, sexual dysfunctions, guilt, difficulty keeping close relationships, flashbacks, memory repressions, anniversary reactions, hallucinations, suicidal ideas, and increased alcohol and drug use – and those are only a few of the potential after-affects.

I understand that mistakes are made. I understand that sometimes it isn’t due to the choice of the women. However, we have over-populated Heaven with millions of babies. Their cries for life were never given the chance to be heard. They were silenced before their rightful time. Where does life begin – at conception or at birth? After reading the lifecycle of a baby from conception, I don’t see how anyone could argue that life begins at conception. Indeed, most of our body’s development takes place while we’re in our mother’s wombs – the only thing left to do once we’re born is to physically grow bigger!

© Heather Vires 2008, all rights reserved.

I Love You, I Love You Not

The night was calm with a sweet surrender. The air was cool and the trees swayed gently in the evening breeze. And there in the middle of a little garden surrounded by tiny flowers He knelt. His face tilted toward the heavens, I listened closely as I overheard what sounded to be an agonizing plea, yet a surrender of the will. The tears falling from His face quenched the thirst of the flowers, and the sound of His voice was so sweet that even the birds hushed their singing. What was He praying about? What was the burden that lay so heavy on His heart? I decided right I simply must know as I moved in closer to ask my interruptive questions. I came to a sudden halt when I heard His final cry: “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will be done!” The next thing I knew there were soldiers marching up the path heading straight towards Him. Was He a criminal? I hid myself in the shadow of a large oak tree to avoid being seen anywhere remotely close to this man, or being mistaken as being associated with Him. The jumbled sounds of questions being hurled in His direction sounded like nothing but confusion to me. Then He spoke. “Whom seek ye?” All at once the angry mob shouted “Jesus!” Unmoved, He quietly yet confidently answered, “I am He.” I watched as the mob took Him away and brought Him before a judge called Pontius Pilate. There He was questioned and sent to be flogged, beaten, and scourged. Once the soldiers had finished their task He stood again before the judge. Questioned once more, the judge sentenced Him to be beaten again and then to hang until dead upon a cross on the mountain of Golgotha. But what was His crime? What had He done that had been so wrong – so wrong that He deserved to die for it? I must have been uttering these thoughts out loud, for someone came from behind me and answered my questions. “He’s done nothing to deserve this. He’s perfect; He’s sinless. He’s the Son of God, and this is what He came for – this is the purpose of His coming.” I couldn’t help but ask this person why; His only response was “because He loves us.”

Love? Really? The man has been sentenced to death! How is that “loving us”? Well, what is “love” anyways? Is love just a mere feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a passing idea? No. Love is so much more – so much deeper than the human mind can truly comprehend. One man put it this way: “Love is a verb.” Meaning that love is an action; love gives of itself without holding back. Love is unconditional – no matter the color, the race, the religion, the creed, or the political views. Another man said it like this: “Do not seek to be loved. Seeking to be loved makes love impossible, for such actions are selfish, and love cannot be selfish.” So not only is love unconditional, but it’s selfless. Better yet, what more beautiful and truthful way is there to put it than how it’s already been presented! It’s a familiar text – often recited at weddings, or other such occasions. Love is willing to suffer long, without resentment. Love doesn’t envy, but wants what is best for the other, no matter what it may cost itself. Love does not behave wrongly. Love is not selfish, nor does it seek to satisfy itself. Love is not easily angered. Love thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in the sin and downfalls of others, but rejoices in truth. Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. In short, love never fails – it cannot fail. It’s rare; it’s complete; it’s perfect. What does it mean when it says that love “cannot fail”? God claimed that He Himself is love – and God is perfect – therefore love is perfect.

Often we hear people talk about “love at first sight”. I have to ask though, is there such a thing? I understand “like at first sight”, or even just plain and simple “lust” – but love? I don’t think that’s possible. Love is something you go through with someone. It’s a journey – something that takes time to develop. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight.
Love is not words, actions, passion, or intimacy – those are merely the results of love. I am always a bit skeptical when someone tells me they love me because I don’t think they understand what it really means. Of course, there are several types of love – the love a parent has for their child, the love someone has for their friends, the way a woman loves her husband, or the way children love their toys.

So then, let’s get back to the story. Jesus has been sentenced to death even though He’s done absolutely nothing wrong, and somehow all that is supposed to mean that He loves us. Let’s look a little farther down the road. He’s been sentenced to death, and now all of Jerusalem is lining the streets as they watch what barely even resembles a man anymore dragging two wooden beams behind Him as He walks towards a hill where two other criminals already hang. Jesus has already been betrayed, denied, forsook, and left alone by His so-called “friends”. He’s been beaten, mocked, scourged, and falsely accused – and that was nothing compared to what was still to come. Once He reached the top of that hill, He was stretched out on a cross, naked, and had three nails pounded through His flesh to keep His body on that old, rugged cross. The sky darkened and the storm howled while angels watched from heaven awaiting the orders to save Him from His creation; yet the orders never came. He had a purpose to complete. Finally, that moment came as the sins – past, present, and future – of all the world weighed heavy on the shoulders of Jesus; the Heavenly Father turned His back on His only begotten Son because He is too holy, and sin cannot enter the presence of Holiness. “My God, My God! Why Hast Thou forsaken me?” the cry pierced through the air as the thunder rolled. Then with His final breath He spoke, “It is finished!”

So what does it mean? How is this “love”? This is the greatest example of love – true, real love – that there will ever be. Remember, love is unconditional, selfless, sacrificial, unending, undeniable, and perfect. The truth is that because of our sin there is a price to pay. We were created with a free will which allows us to make a choice – either we pay the price for our sin ourselves, or we accept the sacrifice Jesus made in our place. He was our substitute, and paid the price for crimes He had not done. As for me, I know I have never loved someone sacrificially or perfectly. After all, I’m only human.

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there! My God didn’t stay dead! My God conquered death and the grave and won the victory! I know that my Redeemer lives and is ever making intercession for me on the right hand of the Father. I’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb in that all my sins are covered by His sacrifice and by His love.

See, love isn’t just a feeling. Love isn’t a mere emotion or some idea thought up by humans. Love is so much more than that; it is so deep that we cannot completely and fully understand it. Love was planned by God to be something so wonderful for us, yet so often we misuse those three little words. We lack true understanding in this area. I often wonder how different our world would be when people tell others that they “love” them, if they really meant it. Would they do anything for that person? Would they give anything for that person – even if it meant sacrificing their own life? People like that are few and far between. I’m glad I know one person who knows what it truly means to love me. He gave everything He had to come to love me!

© Heather Vires 2008, all rights reserved.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am not a great Christian....

I am not a great Christian, nor will I ever claim to be one. But I love Jesus. I don’t deserve all that I have been given – my salvation, my relationship with a Holy God, grace and mercy, His Word, the privilege of knowing that He hears AND answers my prayers, my family, my friends, my church, and so many more than I can’t even begin to tell. Like the prodigal son, I too had a time of wandering – actually, it was more like running – but, like the prodigal, I also came home. I came home because of one word: grace. If it was to please people, I wouldn’t still be serving my Savior. I made a lot of mistakes, I admit it. I have regrets. But I’ve also experienced a greater forgiveness – that has been one of the greatest lessons the Lord has taught me so far. Because of the patience He showed to me, I have a greater patience for others. It’s easier to forgive, when you remember how much you’ve been forgiven. For many years my life verse has been Isaiah 55:8 & 9 which says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” However, since July of 2008 I have adopted another life verse – Romans 5:20b – “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible (apart from John 3:16, of course).
Can I just encourage you that, before you judge people because of their past take a look at your own life and make sure you have everything in its proper place… because honestly, who are you to judge anyone? No one is above falling – “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Bible warns against this in Acts 10:15b: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (“Common” means – of mediocre or inferior quality; mean; low; coarse; vulgar.) Be very careful in your thinking, and don’t be quick to judge. After all, King David was an adulterous, murderer, and a terrible father – YET God called him a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Peter denied Christ three times – YET he died a martyrs’ death on a cross - choosing rather to hang upside-down because He felt unworthy to hang the same way his Savior did. John Mark “gave up” and quit, but later was called for by Barnabas to be their “minister” or “servant” (Acts 13:5). Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock when God told him to simply speak to it – YET God buried Moses on a mountain top. Joseph murdered an Egyptian – YET he was used of God to save the Hebrew nation from starvation during the famine.
Time and time again we see those who have “fallen” be raised up by God Almighty to do something great for Him. Some of the greatest failures often become the greatest stepping stones to cause people to be humbled and able to be used of God. I will say it again: no one is above falling.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.

You’re no better than the next person. You’re no more worthy of God’s grace than the next person. If the Apostle Paul claimed to be the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), then who are we to say we’re any better than anyone else. I dare say that Paul was twice the Christian than I could ever hope to be.
I know I fall short of everything that is good – but in God’s eyes, I’m perfect. My sins have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. When God looks at me He sees His only begotten Son upholding me in His nail-pierced hands – and He’s ever interceding. Grace. What a difference it made in my life!

I am Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! I am intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. I have a good head on my shoulders, and oftentimes find myself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. I take great pleasure in many things. I am proficient in nearly all of them, though I will never own it. Lest I seem too perfect, I have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves me very ill indeed.

I am Elizabeth Bennet!