my beloveds

Nell means “bright, shining one” (English), but it is also the name of my dear great-grandmother and a number of generations before and after.

Michael is “Who is like God?” (Hebrew) and of course is the name of the archangel. It comes literally from “who is like El?”

since this post derives from a discussion on the historical importance of names, specifically as it relates to the names of God aka El, I can appreciate the significance of the names of my beloveds, of my wonderful children.

If I were to say that I named my children with their future in mind I’d be lying. I actually looked backwards for names I thought would give them an identity and a history. accidentally though it seems I stumbled upon a great purpose. what do I desire for my children except that they know God and become lights of the world? in that they are named perfectly. if Nell is a bright, shining one because of Christ then my every perfect hope for her is fulfilled. and if Michael can inspire people to seek the identity of God as his name requires, I shall be a very happy mama indeed. knowing what I do now about the significance of names, I wouldn’t feel right calling them anything else.

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The Watchman

I grew up in a small church that accepted a very literal application of the Bible. During my small group studies some more recent time ago among friends I mentioned a belief I had somehow acknowledged that God holds us each accountable for the salvation of those we encounter. Discussion ensued and I began to question the truth of this belief – perhaps it would be better defined as an “idea” (see “Dogma“, a 1999 Kevin Smith movie). The idea became a part of my “filed” consciousness.

I then became acquainted with Ezekiel through my daily Bible reading. Ezekiel is chosen to be the Watchman for Israel and I realized his story is where the seed of my idea had originated; the truth was more beautiful and rich than I had ever understood.

Read with me here:

Ezekiel 33 New International Version (NIV)
Renewal of Ezekiel’s Call as Watchman

33 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’

The Watchman has the same responsibility we are given later – the great commission. He has to tell people the good news. They can still be saved! They have only to repent of their sins. If they don’t, Ezekiel doesn’t suffer. He must only warn them.

7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

And we are reminded again that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Remember he now invites all Gentiles to be joined with the Holy People of Israel. Each one of us is beloved by Him.

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

I like the stories of fishing for men. I can picture sitting in a boat tossing out the bait of the gospel. If the fish bite I have a moment of great satisfaction. I’ve done my part.

But I want to be the Watchman. I’m standing vigil over the hearts of the people I love (which, per the instructions of my Father, is everyone) and watching for the danger that approaches us. When I sense it is near, I blow my trumpet and shout. I will not see them die because I was not carefully watching. I know I cannot make them heed my warning – but as my teacher Spurgeon has famously said: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

So equip me Lord with the trumpet to blow and the words to shout that my warning might be heard. And thank you for the book of Ezekiel.

An Open Letter to a Friend

Dear Abby with Issues:

Your posts make me smile, sometimes even laugh out loud. I want you to know that something you do is touching the heart of someone you’ve never met (me). You are doing something meaningful and smart. I admire your sass and wit.

But you’re in a dark place. In your last blog post you described yourself as

“being stuck at the bottom of a deep, dark hole with no idea how you’re going to make your way out. There are times you can see the sun up above and feel the rays on your face, but yet you are still down in that hole, surrounded by nothing but darkness on every side.”

I’ve been in a hole of my own. The circumstances are unimportant; I can just tell you that I stood in the hole and came to a place where looking up at the sun hurt and I wanted the comfort of the darkness. I resented the ropes thrown to me. I wanted to feel nothing.

I was diagnosed and treated for depression and then anxiety most likely brought on by the anti-depressants. It kept me steady and able to live day to day, but that’s it. It took away the sadness but it also took away the ability to feel joy. I lived in a place of no feeling. My circumstances didn’t change and neither did my desire to avoid the sun.

I think I was brought to that place for a reason. There was an emptiness that nothing could fill, or to return to your analogy, no rope was the rope that would draw me out. I hit rock bottom and realized that only one could bring me what I was searching for. Only the One.

Maybe you don’t know the peace that comes from Him. Paul writes this amazing letter to the church at Philippi and it closes with this:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

I promise you – He is the rope you’re waiting for.

I grew up a Christian with an ordinary testimony – that means I didn’t have a dramatic conversion or an interesting path to a relationship with God. I just knew Him and He was part of my consciousness always. The day I heard this song by Casting Crowns “Praise You In This Storm” was the day God revealed His purpose to me. The song is a cry from someone in a storm who can’t see God, but praises Him anyway. I certainly understood. I couldn’t see God. I couldn’t feel God. I didn’t feel loved by God. The problem wasn’t God. It was me. He was there, and I was letting the storm keep us separated. I broke down and cried in my car on my way home from work. I realized that my circumstances didn’t have anything to do with God, and they couldn’t keep me from praising Him. I was finally ready to look for the sun.

Blog posting might not be the ideal way to share the gospel of Christ – literally the “good news” – but I’m living proof of the power of Christ. I wish I could have met you for coffee to encourage you instead. I hope you find the lifeline you need. I’d love to answer a question if you have it. and I’m still reading, friend.