Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One year ago today...

My stomach was in knots.

After months of prayer and preparation, I was actually in Windsor, CO, on the Ellerslie campus. The strangest thing about this memory is that it feels like it was several years ago. In some ways, it almost comes to my mind like a dream...I don't recall all the details. It's like this hazy memory filled with the most precious moments of meeting the beautiful faces of sisters in Christ (many of whom I had gotten to know over the internet in the previous months). I was overwhelmed with nerves and pure joy! Then, there was the Ellerslie staff. They were bursting with love and I hardly knew how to receive it! I didn't even feel like unpacking my stuff that day. I was just in awe of the beauty of the campus and the wonderful staff members.
I remember the banquet that they prepared for students....oh my, it was lovely! There are no words to describe that night. The men escorted each lady to the tables (my first experience of the kind of daily ettiquette and decorum that the men were taught to practice, very beautiful!), and we were all served the most wonderful food as the staff begin their presentations, which was greatly moving. It lasted past 11pm, I think. I was exhausted, yet filled with excitement to get to know each of the young women and men that would be my new family for the following 11 weeks. They made me laugh and they made me cry (in good ways!), and they encouraged, convicted, comforted, and blessed me, probably in more ways than many of them even know.
Ellerslie is a place set apart for souls longing to seek un-distracted communion with Christ. It's a place accompanied by souls whose only goal and every effort is to direct your heart towards Christ. And that is what I remember the most about my time there. The way that I was prodded on to grow in Christ and to taste the fullness of what Christ purchased for me on the cross.
I always say that it was very much like a 'honeymoon' with Jesus while I was at Ellerslie. And I'm ever so thankful for all the support from my family and friends, which got me there . The LORD worked in me there in ways that I did not expect and I learned more about the fullness of the Gospel, which became (and still becomes) increasingly more precious to me. It was the first time that I was genuinely able to experience freedom from many struggles and also to boldly proclaim with all my heart, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You!" (Psalm 16:2).

Oh how I miss...

Sunsets at Ellerslie.
And the beautiful chapel.

The view outside my dorm window every morning....

My dear sisters in Christ who inspired me so much...these are just a few, but there are so many more!

Long drives to Estes Park...worshiping Christ in the car along with my sisters.

The days of worshiping before our God, whether it be in the chapel or outside....

Relaxing on the campus, meditating on the Word near the quiet of the lake, conversing with friends, laughing at all the hilarious happenings, watching the bunnies venture out from under the porches, watching the students go about their daily duties, waking up at 5:30 or 6am to pray in the stillness of the morning, the unpredictable weather at Colorado, the wall of thick fog that came rolling through in the mornings of June and July...
I also miss the close fellowship I experienced there. I miss 'family group' nights on Friday. I miss watching people pray. I miss the way our Ellerslie brothers would drop everything to pray over the group of girls, knowing that there was heavy things that a lot of us ladies were wrestling with. I miss the sweetness and joy of 'kiddo night' and pouring into the lives of the children from the church. I miss the morning devotions with staff. I miss the daily worship time.
Yes, there is so much to be missed. But so much to thank my God for!
Life has been quite different post-Ellerslie. But having those 11 weeks to be challenged and refined by His Spirit and Word, and to grow in the love of Christ, provided a solid foundation for the trials and struggles that came upon my return home. Thank you, Jesus, for those 11 weeks.

This hymn was our "anthem". I can't tell how many times we all gathered to sing this one last summer.

"Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken"
by Henry Francis Lyte, 1793-1847

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my All shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.

2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends may shun me;
Show Thy face, and all is bright.

3. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.

4. Man may trouble and distress me,
'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, 'tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, 'twere not in joy to charm me
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

5. Take, my soul, thy full salvation;
Rise o'er sin and fear and care;
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
What a Father's smile is thine,
What a Savior died to win thee;
Child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

6. Haste, then, on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close the earthly mission,
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope soon change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garments of Praise!

This song of praise has been an old favorite. It's traveled with me over the years and it's one that still erupts forth from my heart! It's the second song on my playlist at the very bottom of my blog. Oh Jesus, do this in me and the souls around me!

Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness;
Let the oil of gladness flow down from Your throne!
Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness;
Your joy is my strength alone, my strength alone!

Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again,
Wet this dry and thirsty land with a river!
Lord our eyes are fixed on You and we are waiting,
For Your garland of grace as we praise your name!

Hallelujah, sing hallelujah!
We give all honor and praise to your name!
Hallelujah, sing hallelujah!
We trade our sorrows for garments
of praise!

~ Robin Mark

Monday, May 23, 2011

A jewel

I have found such comfort from these words written decades ago. These are snippets from Amy Carmichael's book, Candles in the Dark. Through some searching, I found some information regarding this little book:

"For the last twenty years of her life, until her death in 1951, Amy Carmichael was confined to her room, in constant pain. During this time she kept in touch with colleagues and friends through a flood of personal letters in which she shared the riches of her spiritual experience, offering encouragement, hope, consolation and occasionally reproof. Never intended for publication, these letters, written to specific individuals on particular occasions, have a wider message which may now for the first time be shared by readers of these selected extracts."

I have often found consolation through Amy's writings, and it has been no different in this season of life. Thank God for this precious sister who never tarried in her work for His Kingdom. It is marvelous how, years later, her words still speak life and hope; or, rather, it is the Spirit that spoke through her and has carried them across the world and time for them to be poured into the hearts of others.

I have just come upon this jewel (in a most uncomfortable setting, but a jewel all the same): "Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord" (2 Kings 10:10). I thought of one who is going through a bitter time - every possible arrow the archers can produce is being shot at that soul - and then I thought of you, and of your father and mother. Nothing of the word of the Lord spoken to you about your dearest shall fall unto the earth. Nothing they have ever known as His word to them shall fall.
Yes, I understand; how much easier it would be if one could bear pain for others - instead of them, I mean. I have often prayed that I might, for Col 1:24 seems to give ground for such a prayer, but never once has that joy been mine. So now I am learning to be content. Perhaps those of whom I am thinking specially would never have known Him as they know Him now if they had not suffered. Indeed it must be so. "I never knew the comfort of God as I know it now," one said to me yesterday.

Don't forget when you imagine, all but see and hear and desperately feel, your loved one's pain, there is one thing that eludes you. That is the grace that is being given, the Presence that is there. But well I know how hard it is to carry on just as if all were going smoothly at home.
Yes, He often trusts us to trust Him when it does not seem as if He were providing. I have been through this rough stretch of road and so I can understand and walk it with you; and, best of all, He can, and He is nearer than near. Give your father my sheet anchor again, Job 34:29: "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" It's such a victorious, "who"!
I think the Lord must find it difficult to teach us that here have we no continuing city. "This is not your rest"; I often think of that. We know it, but we don't find it easy to live as if it were true. More and more I feel that we are what the Bible says we are - strangers and pilgrims. And all the things that happen are meant to emphasize that. But the pilgrim's God is very close to you and your father through these days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Faithful in the waiting.

My daily Bible reading this past month has taken me through the second book of Samuel. The last half of this book doesn't exactly contain the most uplifting of stories. Perhaps, the primary reason why it's hard for me to read it is due to David's sins. I don't like to read how a man after God's own heart fails. However, as disappointing as it may be for us, the LORD still allows us to see how He redeems David's mistakes. Like the time of the Judges, when corruption and strife seem to be filling the land, there is always a ray of light and grace pointing towards the hope of the coming Messiah. As the story of Ruth upholds the hope of the future Redeemer, so does the story of Mephibosheth.
We are first introduced to him in 2 Samuel 4:4...

Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about
Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

Next, we hear of him when David calls a servant, Ziba, from the house of Saul. This is one of my favorite portions of 2 Samuel because here we see David at his prime. The ark has been brought back to Jerusalem, the scent of victory still lingers in the air from the defeat of Israel's enemies, and we are told just several verses before, in the previous chapter (8:13), that David "made a name for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt."
The LORD is pleased with him, blessing him wherever he goes, and the people are content with their king. However, David is not content. He has a great longing in his heart and he seeks to act upon it. That desire is probably the most strange thing a man of his position could ever see after. He seeks for anyone from the house of Saul that he may show them kindness for Jonathan's sake. The house of Saul? You mean, that arrogant fool that tried killing David one more than one occasion? Um, yeah. Can you even imagine what David's wives, concubines, servants, or children where thinking?
But here we see that God was giving Israel a living, breathing example of His heart for them through David.
As soon as David hears from the servant, Ziba, that a son of Jonathan still lives, David immediately sends for him. This just gets better.
Upon entering before the king, the first thing Mephibosheth does is fall on his face.

And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant." (2 Sam 9:6)

I'm trying to imagine the sense of awe and wonder that is filling this meeting between them. Immediately, David says to him,
"Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always." (2 Sam 9:7)

This is preposterous! Even Mephibosheth cannot fathom this:
And he paid homage and said, "What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?" (2 Sam 9:8)

David doesn't stop there, though.
Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the lan
d for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table." Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do." So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. (2 Sam 9:9-11)

For a crippled young man whose family line was shame, no one could have thought his life to be redeemed, especially in those days. Oh the extravagant love of God!

As time moves on, we find that things quickly begin to change this joyful setting.
After David's in with Bathsheba, his house begins to fall apart. Incest, murder, deceit, rebellion, strife, battles. It's like an enormous cloud gets thrown over the kingdom and shadows all the souls. At this point, David's soul is humbled again before the LORD and he submits to the consequences that follow as a result of his sin, while still hoping and trusting in the goodness of God. David and his household have to flee from Jerusalem due to the uprising of his rebellious son, Absalom. After a great many turn of events, through more fighting and death, Absalom is killed and David returns weeping and mourning the death of his son. Shortly following this, David seeks to begin pardoning his enemies and those who turned against him to follow Absalom. I imagine his voice is filled with brokenness and sorrow, but with deep tenderness as well, as he tells them that they shall not die.
At this very moment, an unkempt, ragged young man approach the king. It's Mephibosheth.

He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. (2 Sam 19:24)

We find out that Ziba deceived Mephibosheth and slandered him to David. Mephibosheth had not turned away from following the king. He had not delighted in the thought of receiving the kingdom of his father at the ruin of David. In fact, he had been waiting for his king to return safely. But Mephibosheth's focus remains on the kindness of his king.

"But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?" (2 Sam 19:27-28)

David sees the truth in Mephibosheth's words and is very willing to overlook the misunderstanding, as well as Ziba's sin.
And the king said to him, "Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land." (2 Sam 19:29)

Now, here comes the lines that, to me, speaks volumes:
And Mephibosheth said to the king, "Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home." (2 Sam 19:30)

This resonates with David's psalms:
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalm 16:2, 5-6)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
(Psalm 27:13-14)

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26)

Oh, let the world have it all, just give me my LORD!!

Mephibosheth waited. He didn't move from his place or think upon himself. He waited.

As I was thinking upon these portions of Scripture, I found the Spirit leading my heart to an unexpected lesson. I hadn't realize what an incredible picture this was of the saint's posture before God. I have this image of Mephibosheth bent over, rough and dirty, but quietly waiting. Maybe, at times, weeping. And weeping hard. Yet, still waiting.
Like the last half of 2 Samuel, life can become complicated and tumultuous. Our sin can get us into some nasty situations. Unexpected circumstances and difficult situations will arise. The answer to that one prayer seems to be going long unheard. There's no healing (spiritually or physically) for those who have been broken or afflicted. The doctors aren't reliable. Answers are hard to obtain. Victory over certain struggles, faults, or weaknesses haven't been granted yet. Direction on that one thing or for that one place hasn't been given.
Sometimes, giving way to inactivity and discouragement seems like the only options when the pressures of life become heavy.
But do we know the One upon whom we wait?

Mephibosheth waited upon a king who was imperfect. No doubt, he had known something of David's sins and faults. Yet, he loved and trusted in him.
We wait upon a King who is, in every way, absolutely perfect and good! And He fully delivers His promises!
It is frustrating when your heart begins to faint even though the incredible, wonderful facts of the Word are staring straight into your face. It's like I have to keep hammering the Truth onto my heart again. That is what daily meditation is, I suppose. Gentle, yet forceful hammering of the Truth into the depths of your soul.
O Father, I want to be faithful in the waiting, just like Mephibosheth! But I know that I haven't been...and I know that I could never be. So, my God, You must do this in and through me. I believe that I shall look upon Your goodness in the land of the living.

Waiting on Him for whom it is no vain thing to wait. ~ Jim Elliot

Monday, May 16, 2011

Visionary Monday ~ Most sacred of places

A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world’s perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded.

Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men.
~ J.R. Miller

There is nothing in the daily routine of the family life that is unimportant. Indeed, it is ofttimes the things we think of as without influence that will be found to have made the deepest impression on the tender lives of the household.
~ J.R. Miller

You are not likely to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation. Some little religion, there may be here and there; but while it is confined to single persons, and is not promoted in families, it will not prosper, nor promise future increase. ~ Richard Baxter

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Reflections ~ Home Sweet Home

It's officially summer in my world because I'm finally done with the semester. And, it's not just any old semester, but my last semester at college. I have found that college is a tremendous blessing, but is often difficult for people like myself. If I could sum myself up in a recipe it would be:

1 Introvert
3 Cups Dreamer
1 Cup Visionary
1 Tsbp Procrastination
1/4 tsp Discipline
And a spicy dash of Perfectionism

And, everyone should know that the difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer is habitually stuck in the rut of dreaming, whereas a visionary actively pursues and works towards the dreams in mind - haha! I'm working on the discipline part. :-/ Let's just say, this recipe is quite combustible. Just don't stick someone like this in a college setting because there is often much conflict and heartache along the way. Stepping outside of my shoes for a moment, I find it quite humorous. But don't tell myself that I said so.
Anyway, having spent 5 years at college, wandering aimlessly and still managing to get myself a rather pointless degree, I definitely have much to be thankful for! The LORD has taught me tremendous things through the ups and downs of these years. And when I write 'ups and downs,' I mean UPs and DOWNs. O_O
But since when have I never had to learn discipline, contentment, joy, patience, and true character through the weaknesses of my flesh and personality? Feels like I've been learning the same lessons since as far back as I can remember. My poor, poor parents. :-/ But thanks be to God, I'm a more free, joyful, and disciplined person today than ever before....all because of the grace that He lavished on me through Christ! I'm sure my college years will look very wasted to many (and the fact that I'm pulling out at only 22 years of age...what an unheard of thing!), but I know I gleaned more in these five years than some who go on to obtain their Masters or doctoral degrees. One thing is for sure, I could never pursue something for myself. In fact, that's why my first few years at college were some of the most difficult in my life. I have grown to detest anything that has self-ambition written all over it. Although, I must stress that I believe college is the perfect option for many others, who are being called to use the skills/knowledge that they acquire there for the LORD's kingdom. However, there are many, like myself, who have not been called into that direction. Our Father has fashioned our hearts and He knows best where we belong and how to discipline and challenge us in that place.
Now, it's not that I don't love the pursuit of knowledge and education. I'm just more unconventional in my approach....with a dash of an old-fashioned mindset! In the words of Ms Paulina (a fellow blogger and dreamer!), "I've always admired autodidacts. People who take their education into their own hands, relying not on the system, but on the many (sometimes free!) resources available today." And, well, that's one of my goals now that I'm done with college. And, home is exactly where I'm learning. I cannot say how thankful and excited I am for this opportunity that my Heavenly Father has purposed for me.

I'm the kind of person that loves to dabble in everything, so I've found that, at home, my focus will continue in my studies of music, songwriting, herbalism, nutrition, sewing, cooking, baking, time management, various cleaning/organizational skills, and learning the practical, everyday,
'boring' things of life (haha!). Not to mention, my ever-growing book-list, which is both for spiritual and practical/homemaking purposes and learning. But, more importantly, seeking to learn character, perseverance, patience, listening-skills, and a whole host of virtues that only the Spirit could teach me, especially in regards to family and friend relationships. And, to start my day everyday, forever and always, seeking to grow in the love of Christ!

Some of my favorite blog posts as of late have centered around this topic and I have been encouraged by these sisters (two of which are stay-at-home daughters) in the LORD:

True Education ~ A Set Apart Life

Clinging to the Right Things ~ All She Has to Say

More on Godliness With Contentment ~ Practical Theology for Women

So, while my to-do list seems to be ever-growing, I have had to allow Christ to quiet me and focus my eyes on Him. It seems that in the heat of my pursuits and learning, and wanting to know skills and information to help my family and others, I often tend to follow it out in my flesh rather than the Holy Spirit's lead. In regards to this, Ms. Jasmine listed 3 truths that she has been learning and have found myself ever so thankful for them,
  1. The stress that I sometimes attribute to the incompetence or idiocy of others is actually a result of my own failure to see every difficult circumstance as an opportunity to magnify Christ.
  2. The stress that I often attribute to my inability to meet all of the goals that I set for myself is actually the result of my own failure to lean wholly on Christ and his finished work for my value (as opposed to leaning on my checklist).
  3. The stress that I often attribute to apocalyptic circumstances is actually not that bad in the big scheme of things... it's just the Lord gently (well, forcefully) reminding me that he holds the reins of my life.
Through the trials, He is still always opening up my eyes to the evidences of His grace around me. God is glorious and good, my friends.

I depart with a quote on Biblical womanhood that I found today:

We hear much about women’s liberation today. I want you to be liberated. Here is the path of genuine liberation for a woman: submission. Submission allows her to run on the track; it allows her to make beautiful music in her home. When you do what God intended a woman to do, when you are what God intended a woman to be, that is when you will be most free. ~ Jay E. Adams

Being surrendered and submitted to God is the first step towards Biblical, Christ-exalting womanhood. This opens up the door for Him to make us conduits of His grace, to be poured out on those around us, for His Glory!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Simcha (שִׂמְחָה - Joy, Gladness)

So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
~ Psalm 105:43

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
~ Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The complexity of our LORD...

It has been quite a week. I truly miss blogging after being away for a week or longer. There is something therapeutic about it. I would not call myself a writer, and yet I enjoy journaling and sharing my heart through the type.
So, the world, as usual, has never ceased to be eventful, while I'm just trying to finish up another semester. I'm not a very politically-involved person. Perhaps, it is one of my great faults. Most times, I choose to be ignorant of what is happening in the world of politics because it frustrates and grieves me. I may be a conservative at heart, but it's not how I define myself or what I'm most passionate to preserve. I have seen the politics of this world eat away at souls and embitter those who are children of God. The fact that more Christians are caught up in politics than the Word of God is a sad reality. While I should be more well informed than I am, I decided awhile ago that I was to only be concerned about ONE thing and that is my LORD, His character, and His living Word. I have only one life to live and I desire to spend it more concerned about His kingdom than this earthly one. He is the one who makes leaders to rise or to fall and none can stay His hand when He purposes to do His will. He works through the prayers of His saints to triumph over evil and bring His glory and kingdom on earth. Thank God for the freedom and rights of this country, but if they were ever taken from us, may it only be so that we might find Christ the highest treasure through the trials and the souls of many be brought to Him. I'm not particularly pro-America and, yet, in another sense, I am. But that's a topic for another day.

In the many events that occurred this past week, there was one that got me thinking - the death of Osama Bin Laden. It seems pretty shrouded in mystery, as usual. Whether Osama died years ago, died this past week, or this is just some huge conspiracy, I don't care enough to discuss it. Rather, I care to know God's heart in the death of the wicked, whoever they may be. Many times, I find that Christians take only one side (not that they're wrong, but that there's so much more to it than one might think). We are to love our enemies. We are not to rejoice in the death of the wicked. It's a humbling, grieving reality. It reminds us that we have a God who is to be feared. It reminds us that everyday, regardless if they are killers or orphaned children, there are thousands of souls slipping into hell. It reminds us that there are souls in desperate need of a Savior and to know the Truth.

Dr. Voddie Baucham posted this article, The Death of Osama bin Laden: What Kind of Justice Has Been Done?, on his Facebook page this past week, including these words:

Wonderful article to ponder in a culture that celebrates both Rob Bell (who thinks it's wrong for God's justice to be vindicated in Hell) and the killing of Osama Bin Ladin. And no, I'm not saying it was wrong to kill Bin Ladin; I'm saying it's hypocritical for a culture that increasingly deems itself too "sophisticated" for to death penalty (or Hell) to rejoice when someone takes a bullet through the head.

Baucham's comments jumped out at me! It's true. There are many rejoicing in the death of Osama, and other such men like him, and, yet, could it be that the many who are rejoicing might be those who hold fast to the message of universalism because they want to believe that their own story is a happily-ever-after forever? I'll be honest: Rob Bell stepped out of historic Christianity the moment he started preaching universalism more boldly, which was long before he wrote his now controversial book, Love Wins.

Rob Bell wrote, "hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.
This is what the emergent church is passionately embracing.

I could wish that this were true, Rob, if only the LORD declared it to be True. But I will not wish for something that is against my LORD's Word because He is the King of kings. He alone is the Supreme Authority. He justifies and He condemns and His judgement does not negate His divine Love. His Love does win, but not in the finite, humanistic way that our minds can only perceive.

The hard truth is that there is a Hell, which is an eternal torment, and many are falling away who will never know the eternal joy of being with their Creator. Should not this truth shut our mouths, humble our hearts, and drive us to our knees in deep groaning and prayer? Should not this truth make us weep?
Rob Bell, the emergent church, and whoever enjoy the kind of teaching for their 'itching ears' will not feel this urgency because the corrupted truth that they hold to is merely just a rebellion against God's holy Word and another Lie of the Enemy.
The lie that there is no eternal torment in hell is what will hinder the spread of the true Gospel. Why would there be any urgent need to declare the Gospel and fight and strive for the dying souls of this world if, in the end, every single soul will be reconciled to God? I'm saddened and upset about the Universalism message because it strips away from the power and glory of the Gospel! It strips away from the work of the Cross, the death of our Savior! We don't need Christ or His work on the Cross if we're all going to inevitably be saved! How do these lies not GRIEVE US? Yes, they may sound SO good. They may sound SO right. But we have to remember the way that the Serpent tempted Eve in the garden. The deception seems so beautiful and pleasing....but how awful and tormenting is the fruit of it!
To be sure, we are living in the times that Paul wrote of:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Tim 4:3-4

I am compelled to share these words by John Piper on Bin Laden's death and the heart of God in all of this. I thank my God for men who uphold the authority of the Word and seek to uphold ALL the texts of Scripture rather than canceling some to bring out others. Holy Father, continue to preserve Your Word!

God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.

In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.

It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?

This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8) faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 10) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.

So my answer is almost always “yes, in some ways, and no in other ways.” But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.

Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:

In one sense, human death is not God’s pleasure:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32).

In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God’s pleasure:

Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself.(Ezekiel 5:13]

[Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.(Proverbs 1:25–26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)

We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.

Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory.

When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.

God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see alsoRomans 9:22–23).

A Warning

Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord”—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.

At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.

(Adapted from The Pleasures of God, pp. 66-74.)

And I end in my post with this final verse. Let us seek to be humbled by these words....

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. ~ Romans 11:22