Friday, February 22, 2013

ONE THING - His Presence

"One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple," Psalm 27:4.

Far From Home
Imagine an American soldier stationed overseas in Iraq. As they sleep, rise, eat, prepare, patrol, and fight their mind constantly wanders home. The lonely warrior cannot help but think of his own bed, waking up next to his wife, hugging his kids, pouring a bowl of cereal at the table, warming up the car, driving to work, and returning to a warm, safe, comfortable home. Above all he wanted one thing: to be in the presence of those he loved; his family. All day; everyday his mind is consumed with thoughts of his family, images of his wife, and replays of his kids running around the house and into his arms. They are all he wants.

Like this soldier, where David was and where he wanted to be were different places.
David was at war and was being persecuted by his enemies. He was a soldier far from home and wanted to return. He wanted one thing…to be in house of God. To be in the house of God was to be in God’s presence. Nothing else compared. The house of the Lord was the temple. The temple was where God’s presence remained. David longed to dwell in God’s presence, and to be with God time and time again. 
A New Home
Time went by and Jesus came. He died for our sins and returned to the Father. Since then we are no longer dependent upon the temple to be in God’s presence. Jesus was God’s son, he was present on earth. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to be present with us, and to dwell in our very beings. This is HUGE!!!!
We are now the home where God dwells (the temple of the Holy Spirit) individually and corporately.

  • “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
  • “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…” 2 Corinthians 6:16.
  • “…you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:19-22.

We don’t have to go anywhere to be with the ONE we love. We simply ask Jesus to forgive our sins and daily surrender our desires and plans for his. We also invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us…and HE DOES! God is with us wherever we are and in whatever we are going through. He is in us individually as we go about each day and he is in and among us when we get together. He makes his home in us!

Go Home
Above all else David sought to be with the ONE he loved, yet I seek everything else. I don’t just want one thing, I want a lot of things…
I want to:

  • Feel better about myself by checking Instagram, Facebook, and twitter to see if someone has noticed me,
  • Go to the company of my friends so I don’t have to feel so alone,
  • Turn up the music to drown out and ignore how I really feel,
  • Flirt with a guy so he recognizes my appearance so I don’t feel so insecure,
  • Stay really busy so I don’t have to face what I am really afraid of…
  • Is it the same for you? What are the things you seek? These only distract us from WHO we really need.

For David the one thing he wanted was to be in the presence of God. Are you as desperate as the soldier to see the ones he loves? Do you long to be with the living God or would you rather seek every other thing?

We forget Who is home. The living God is at home in your heart. He is never too busy; he is always available. His favorite thing is to spend time with you. He knows exactly what you are struggling with and is ready to comfort and encourage you. He cares for you.
His presence is all you and I need. 

I want to ask for and seek him above all else. I want him to be the ONE THING I desire. That would mean my goal in life would be to continuously BE WITH JESUS. Rather than making a name for myself, becoming more popular, making more money, impacting a community, or finding love I would be focused on His presence. I would be caught up gazing on His beauty and meditating on His love. Wherever I was, whoever I was with, and in whatever I was doing I would be AWARE of His presence with me and seek to know Him better. My thoughts would be consumed with what He has done in my life, what He is doing, who He is, what He has created, and what He wants to do… HE is the ONE THING I want, and He is with me; at home in my heart. He can be with you as well. Ask and seek.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33.

"One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple," Psalm 27:4.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beyond Comprehension

I love it when the Holy Spirit rearranges the way I think. He takes a truth I have forgotten about God and makes it relevant. It is as if he takes an old book off the shelf, dusts it off, and it's as if I am reading it for the first time. 

The other night I realized I was believing a lie. For some reason I thought I knew all there was to know about God. That I had my portion of him, that I had all that I was going to get of him (as if there was not enough to go around and we were each given a specific amount). 

No! The eyes of my heart were enlightened. I can learn something new everyday about God and never know him completely. 

Then I thought about how people give their lives to be a specialist in a specific field. They give everything they have to be the best and to know the most. Depending on their field they might come to an understanding of all there is to know. 

I WILL NEVER fully know the God of the universe, the creator, the keeper of time, the placer of people. 
There will ALWAYS be something more to discover or an area to grow deeper. 
This is my God. 
Beyond comprehension. Infinitely loving.
Bigger then I expected. 

For some this might be a scary fact. They might ask themselves, "How can I believe in something I cannot completely understand?" I would respond, "I believe in him because he is far beyond my understanding."

Forgive me God for making you small in my eyes. You have yet again, blown up the box I seem to put you in. Thank you. 

This is my prayer for myself and for you!
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Ephesians One: Sixteen through Twenty-Three

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Initial Instructions...(aka God's will)

In the beginning God creates the earth, all living things, and Adam & Eve. His instructions to them struck me today...
"And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth'" (Gen. 1:28). 

As we all know, Adam & Eve sin, are removed from the garden, and cursed. But God's instruction or his will for his people remains. He repeats it to Noah when he instructs him to leave the ark (8:16-17). He blesses Noah and his sons, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth..." (9:1). Then again, he communicates to "be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it" (9:7). 

So what does it really mean to "be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it?"
I think literally it means to have babies, grow crops, and conquer the land. But what about for today?
In order to discover the depth of this meaning it would be good to answer this question according to what it meant in the Old Testament and New Testament, and then apply it to today. (I intend to do so soon). Until then I believe it simply means to invest the resources you have (time, gifts, skills, monetary resources, etc.) in the people you live with and near. When you sow good seed a good crop is produced and can be shared. It also produces seeds of its own. When this continues growth will naturally take place. 

I don't think God's initial instruction for humanity has changed. It still applies today.
Let's make this practical. Today I will see a couple of friends. In my time with them I will encourage and support them. Hopefully (maybe not right away) they will reciprocate this and go on to encourage and support someone in their life.
Consider the fruit your life is producing right now. Is there any? Is it good? Has it provided for others and reproduced itself? 
I am noticing a pattern with the first families. God blesses them and then instructs them. The instruction is the same for Adam & Eve, Noah and his kids, and their kids...and us!

It is interesting (not surprising) that they (Noah's descendants) do the opposite. Chapter 11 tells of the gathering of the people to build a city. They said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth" (11:4). Their purpose for this was to "make a name" for themselves. The result, the Lord dispersed them over the face of the earth (11:8, 9).

The story continues with one of Noah's sons, Shem. Shem goes on to have kids, who have kids, and so on. Down the line is born, Terah, who then fathers Abram. God repeats his initial instructions, but in a slightly different way. "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you" (12:1). Essentially God is saying, "Disperse!" "Go!" And then he says/promises, "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (12:1-3). 

God instructed Abram to leave what he knew, what was familiar,  and trade it for the unknown and unfamiliar. Go FROM the familiar, TO the unknown. If he was willing to take incredible steps of obedience he would become a great nation, be blessed, and bless others. 

I would like to compare these two stories. With the Tower of Babel the people they took matters into their own hands and made a name for themselves. With Abram God promises to make a name for him. HE not only would have favor among the people, he would not have to worry about provision, because he was blessed. The purpose of him being blessed was to bless others. 

You might be thinking, "What's so bad with wanting to make a name for yourself?" The problem with this it is out of pride and disobedience. How does one even make a name for themselves? In chapter 11 they set out to build something recognizable. They wanted to impress. They wanted to make a statement. By staying in the same location they could build their own kingdom higher and higher. They could gain prominence and respect. 

Instead, God's ideal for us is not that we would build our own kingdom but his. By "going" one is forced to rely on the Lord. They no longer have their connections, reputation, education, or wealth to fall back on. "Going" can look differently for each of us. For some it might mean moving to an unfamiliar city to share the Gospel, for another it might mean knocking on their next door neighbor's door and getting to know them better. Instead of building our kingdom up we extend HIS kingdom out. We do not do so by our own effort, rather the Lord's favor and provision. (He blessed Abram. Abram blessed others. Share!). We simply share the salvation, forgiveness, love, joy, and peace we have been blessed with through Christ!

Nothing has changed. We want to make a name for ourselves. We want to be recognized, be great. But instead of build our own kingdom God builds his kingdom through us, and establishes his reign and rule on earth.His kingdom looks a lot different then the one we presently reside. In his kingdom just about everything is reversed; the least will be the greatest, the poor will be acknowledged and cared for, righteousness is required rather then a long resume... he uses the weak to shame the wise, the marginalized to lead, to lead is to serve... It is counter to our culture and the society in which we live. Yet it is our challenge today- to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and (then) all these thing (food, drink, clothing) will be added unto you (Matt. 6:33). 

Consider which kingdom you are building. Your own? or His?

The initial instructions God gave Adam, Eve, Noah, and Abram to be fruitful and multiply are the same instructions for us today. Will we multiply and build our own kingdom or His?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Opportunity?.... or Interruption?

Today I visited the U.S. Postal Office. 
You know, the archaic mode of communication known as the mail. 
I entered to find a line winding through the foyer filling the room. It was moving at an agreeable pace until I was the next to be assisted. I stood for a few minutes content with the situation. This in itself surprised me. Typically I would be easily frustrated that my daily, time-allotted, minute by minute schedule was being disrupted. Instead I was not in a rush. I turned to the lady behind me, dressed in a ripped t-shirt, and obviously disgruntled by the nuisance, and light-heartily remarked about the wait. She went on to express her frustration. Somehow we transitioned to talking about her kids and how expensive college was and how impossible it is to find a good job these days...and on and on. By this time the remainder of the line became bystanders and listened in on our conversation. What else was there to do anyways? Plus, the volume at which she was speaking made her comments unavoidable. 

Soon after it was my turn. I'm sure each person behind me was subconsciously hoping I would not be high maintenance. I jovially bantered with Douglas, the postal worker, with the hope of getting a laugh out of the bystanders. After all, as unique as each of us were standing in line we did share the commonality of desiring to be in and out of there as quickly as possible. 

I did not belabor the process and swiftly exited. My neighbor in line was also exiting. I mentioned I was glad to have gotten through. Then that led to this and then this led to that and we stood together conversing like dear old friends. After just a few short moments it was evident we had quite a bit in common. My neighbor was not bashful in any way but rambled on from one topic to the next. I was ready to monopolize any moments to keep the conversation going, but there was no need. 

As I stood their I wondered how long this would go on, not because I wanted it to conclude, more out of curiosity. She was not hesitant at all, rather, open and chatty. I pondered what it would be like having coffee with this dear lady all the while enjoying the conversation. 
Probably a half an hour later...
She mentioned needing to depart, yet as we walked to our cars (conveniently parked close by each other) our conversation continued. Before concluding I asked for her name and told her mine. 

My neighbor in line,
My new unexpected friend, 
One who not long before was merely a stranger
Became a friend.
Through our unforeseen encounter I was enlightened, reminded...
That a long line does not have to be a nuisance, instead, it is an opportunity, 
An opportunity to converse, challenge, encourage...
All the while providing perspective to another's life. 
Maureen inspired gratitude in me. 

This encounter reminded me of my abnormal fascination and love for making strangers friends. 
I love discovering something about someone. I love knowing people and why they are they way they are and why they do the things they do. It excites me as i am enraptured by their stories, their families, their experiences... there is really nothing like it. 

How often am I presented with the opportunity to make a stranger a friend?
Unfortunately, most of the time I am enthralled by my minute-to-minute agenda that I miss these profound moments. People, lines, traffic, unexpected delays become interruptions instead of opportunities. 
I'm glad Maureen was not the case. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Glance or Gaze?

Have you ever seen someone a million times, but then feel like you've seen them for the first time? 

Does this ever happen to you?

Have you met someone and then later had a conversation with them and your perspective of them has been transformed? 

This happens to me all of the time. It's not that my initial thoughts of everyone are negative, rather I don't know them. 

I glance at them, I glance into their life. But it is not until I gaze into their eyes, into who they are that I see. It is through conversation that this happens. 

What is so crazy is that their appearance changes. They look different. It may be because I never really saw them, or maybe I was not looking. It may be because of preconceived notions. It may be because of a variety of different things, but what is important is that I see them.

Meeting someone is good but it is not enough. It is not until you stop and have a conversation with them that you really see them for who they are. 
Don't just glance. Gaze. See people for who they are not for how they seem, how they appear, how they come across...gaze into their soul.

This requires sacrifice. 
A glance only takes a second, but a conversation could take minutes...which could lead to days, then months, and even years. 
What is the point of meeting someone? Isn't it to know them? 
Is the sacrifice worth it?
Is it even that big of a deal?

When slowing down to see people becomes a big deal I have become to big in my own eyes and I am no longer serving my purpose in life.

Maybe it is through listening that one's perspective is changed?
Maybe it is during and after genuinely hearing someone that they can really be seen. 

I encourage you, I challenge you to listen, hear, look, see, gaze.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

strange but wonderful

I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted. When I began this blog I thought to myself, "Everybody says they create a blog and then never post...I'm going to be different." HA, ya right...


I am finding myself in an odd place. This is the first time in about a month that I have not had any hw due the next day, an event, or plans (on a weeknight). The strange part is that I don't know what to do with myself! 
I love it! I don't think I have ever craved a couch so much! :)

Yesterday things were quite different. Yesterday and the past few days everything seemed to be swirling around me and sucking me in to mini tornadoes. I was reminded that unless I keep my eyes on Jesus I will become consumed with what needs to be done, who needs to be seen, where I need to be...
Although I have to remind myself it is vital that my eyes remain fixed on Him.

Is anything really more important than Him?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


According to "captivate" means: to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence"

There are a couple of reasons I chose to call my blog "captivated".
First, I am consistently captivated by the one who created me and how he continually loves me unconditionally. 
Second, my name, Rebecca, means "captivating."
Third, I hope that this blog will capture your attention and bring refreshment to you. I also hope you become captivated by your creator if you aren't already.