Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"My Beloved is mine, and I am his"

For what it's worth, here's a devotional:

Is not our greatest consolation in trials and afflictions Christ himself? Indeed he is. As the prophet Isaiah says (43:2): “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Although it is our gracious Lord who either allows or brings about our trial, it is also our gracious Lord who is with us in the midst of it.

In the midst of the raging waters which threaten to drown us or the uncontrollable flames which threaten to engulf us, God promises his precious bride, “I will be with you.” If Christ is with us, then what have we to fear? If Christ is with us, then who or what can be against us? If Christ is with us, then it is well with our souls — come what may.

Like a wife who loves her husband so much she cannot live without him, all we want is for our Beloved to be with us. All we want is for our Beloved to stick with us through thick and thin, through the overwhelming floods of life, through its many trials, difficulties, afflictions, pains, heartaches, and everything else, through it all. In fact, when a couple dearly loves one another, trials only serve to draw them closer together; and that’s what we likewise dearly want, nearness to our Beloved. All we want is for our Beloved to love us, to protect us, to care for us, and to be with us, forever and ever. And Christ promises he will never leave us nor forsake us. Even in the times we are faithless, he is faithful. Christ promises nothing can separate us from his love. He is a steady rock, like the Rock of Gibraltar, in the midst of the stormy seas and unrelenting waves of our anguish and agonies. All we want is our Beloved and his love, and we have him. And so long as we have our Beloved, we have everything. So long as our Beloved is with us, so long as our Beloved is ours and we are our Beloved’s, we are safe and secure.

For our Maker is our husband, and he loves us with such an unimaginable, indescribable, unquenchable love, a love that the best, most perfect husband’s love for his wife is but a pale reflection.

In the midst of all our hurt and tears, all we want is our Beloved. So long as we have him, and more importantly so long as he has us; so long as he holds us and never lets us go; so long as he loves us with an unfailing, undying, ever faithful, ever committed, steadfast love; so long as he loves us and always continues to love us; so long as he is our husband and we are his bride, the Father having purchased us by the blood of Christ the Son and sealed us with the Holy Spirit as promised in the New Covenant; so long as our Beloved is ours and we are his in the bonds of the holiest of all holy matrimonies; so long as we have our Beloved and our Beloved has us, then no matter how long the tears may run, and no matter how deep the tears may cut, we know that in the end our Beloved will wipe away all our tears, and restore to us the joy of our salvation, when he restores us to himself. Then we shall see our Beloved face to face, and then we shall know our Beloved and his precious love for us, just as we have been known and loved by our Beloved even before we were a whisper upon our mother’s lips or thought in our mother’s mind. He is our Beloved, and he loves us and he died to save us to show us he loves us.

Thus, in the midst of all life’s most heart-wrenching pains and sorrows, all we need and all we want is to be with Christ, our Beloved. All we want is Christ himself. Nothing else and no one else will do but Christ and him alone. Our heart may be broken into a gazillion little pieces, but it can never be so broken as it would be broken if it did not have Christ, its Beloved — if it were to seek the One it loves but could not find him. And, yet, miracle of miracles, our Beloved’s promise is precisely that he is ours, and we are his, and he is with us, and he loves us, and he will always be with us, and he will always love us!

Although our mother and father, our brothers and sisters, our spouses and children, our relatives and our dearest, most intimate friends may turn against us or forsake us, our Beloved will never, no, never forsake us. Even when no one loves us, and all loves have fled from us, our Beloved loves us, our Beloved loves us who are unlovable. His left hand is under our head to protect us and carry us through, and his right hand embraces us, never letting us go but drawing us in to rest upon his bosom, because of his great love for us.

O, dear, precious, sweet Lord Jesus Christ, our Beloved! Our heart sings to you through the tears in thankfulness, for your infinitely gracious love towards us, even us, in the midst of our broken hearts, our shattered spirits, and our fallen, sinful lives, drawing us nearer to yourself by affliction and grief, with unbreakable cords of love, because you first loved and always will continue to love us! And not only do you love us, our most beloved Beloved, but you love to love us, simply because you love us! What more could we ask for than that which we already have, namely, you, our Beloved!


  1. When you write such things, it becomes evident that you have somewhat of a heart. Thus, I simply can't understand the absolute depth of callousness and insensitivity you folks here have when casually talking about the multitudes who are going to suffer for eternity for their crime of not believing what you believe, nor (according to your theology) able to believe otherwise!

    Beyond not "loving your enemies", you folks hate people who have done you no wrong, who you don't even know.

    Hate is not too strong a word: how else would you describe a total and complete passivity and indifference to the suffering of others? Even Jeffrey Dahmer suffered some regret, and his victims' suffering endured only moments, whereas those you hate will suffer for ever.

    I just am shaking my head. I don't get it.

  2. I simply can't understand the absolute depth of callousness and insensitivity unbelievers have when casually talking about the multitudes of survival machines—a robotic vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes—which are going to be consigned to oblivion for their crime of not being made in God’s image.

    Beyond not "loving your robotic vehicles", you folks hate survival machines that have done you no wrong, which you don't even know.

    Of course, “hate” is a relict of folk psychology—which would explain your total and complete passivity and indifference to the nonexistent suffering of others.

    Even Christians experience regret, unlike eliminative materialists who regard feelings as illusory.

    I just am shaking my head. I don't get it.

  3. So believing in a pie-in-the-sky necessarily means one will have empathy? Surely, you're more intelligent than that. Those terrorists who took down the towers for Allah didn't have much empathy did they? Some Christians have it, some don't. I'm willing to bet that they wouldn't be much different without their faith, just as people such as wicked and cruel with their faith. Faith itself makes zero net difference.

    Also, where did I say I was an atheist? I just can't worship the God as depicted in the Bible: the Bible is the story of a Supreme Being who hides in the clouds, who creates slaves to torture for His own demented pleasure. It's a mandate to hate all people in order to love a God who can be appeased with flattery and wishful thinking.

  4. You're very judgmental in your own right. What's your basis for moralizing?

  5. I'd add that your hysterical and juvenile caricatures of the Christian faith don't do your own position any great credit.

  6. Hey Jim, if you're not an atheist, then could you describe the god that you have made for yourself that you worship? Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. Jonah, I don't have an "image". I think it's reasonable to infer from the order of creation that there might be a creator, or first cause. Beyond that I can't say. I have no reason to believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God anymore than the Koran is. They both make the same competing claims. I don't know I can say much about the creator God. I hope He's good, but that's all I can do. If the Bible is true, I would not worship that God anymore than I would bow down to a crazed military despot threatening to kill me if I refuse to harm my own family. I'd hope I'd keep my conscience and tell him to F off and take my death with dignity.

    The Bible is filled with ridiculous claims and a vision of a Deity that can only arise from a crude and child-like mind: punishment/reward (although the scenario is completely insane: punishment for being exactly what God "predestined" you to be, reward for Him forcing you to be something you didn't want to be, acc. to the Calvinist definition).

    This is something out of Lewis Carroll. It's madness, and only a depraved beast could revel in it: someone without conscience, without mercy, without empathy.

    Look, I'm not a militant God-hater. All of us want life to continue beyond this one, and we all want meaning and substance. I don't relish nihilism and the thought that we are but dust and dust only.

    However, I would rather keep my conscience intact and not worship an omnipotent fiend, if He is indeed as Calvinists in particular (and most Christians in general) describe Him to be.

    Fiends are fickle. They will keep you around only as long as they have use for you. They will lie and deceive and in the end, you're no better off than if you just defied them from the onset. The God of the Bible is just that: He deceives (exodus 4:21, 7:3) and He tempts (Gen 22:1).

    I might suggest that your faith in this Being, if the Bible is accurate, is on shaky ground.

  8. Whoa there -- that is a blatant mischaracterization of the biblical god if ever I've heard one.

    The god of the bible isn't at all like a "crazed military despot threatening to kill me if I refuse to harm my own family."

    No. The god of the bible very politely asks that you take a three-day hike with your son, and once in the hills at a particular location, kill and burn him... in his mercy.

    We should take a lesson from this god, and his most revered patriarch, who did not object at all, and unquestioningly set off to do precisely that -- to kill his son in the hills, because god had so commanded.

    How dare you mischaracterize the biblical god.


  9. James,

    If the Bible is true, I would not worship that God anymore than I would bow down to a crazed military despot threatening to kill me if I refuse to harm my own family. I'd hope I'd keep my conscience and tell him to F off and take my death with dignity.

    This is evidence only of your own idolatry. If the Bible is true, on whom do you suppose your existence and the existence of all those you love depends? I mean, with creations as grateful as you, why on earth would God be angry?

    Your objections to the God revealed in Scripture are inane and empty precisely because you want to judge that God by your own standard. But your standard isn't consistent with the standard of the God revealed in the Bible, who claims to be the Creator and Sustainer of all. So of course you object! Your objection is about as meaningful as a secular Westerner objecting to Hinduism because beef tastes good.

  10. 2 Thessalonians speaks volumes about the character of the Christian God:

    [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
    [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    He's a barrel of laughs.

  11. I have no reason to believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God anymore than the Koran is. They both make the same competing claims.

    Jim, the fact that you make the above statement shows that you know nothing at all about Christianity or Islam. You're just spouting off what someone else told you. I think someone else said it earlier, but it merits repeating: educate yourself or you will continue to show your ignorance. Until then, I assume that you are not here to inquire or debate, you are here to troll.

    Guys like you are a dime a dozen. You're all willing to believe in a god, as long as that god runs the universe *your* way! You may not have made a physical image, but you sure have a mental one.

    If, as you say, there is a Creator, then why should He consult you for direction as to how the world should work? Didn't he create you too?

    And if you acknowledge a Creator, then you have to acknowledge the possibility that He has revealed Himself to his creation. There is, however, no underlying logical presupposition that you must like or approve of that revelation.

    Your position (which I assume to be some form of agnosticism) is both logically and morally untenable. It is empty and makes no statements about truth, therefore it's useless.

  12. Tell you what, Jim, I'll get you started so your brain isn't too taxed right off.

    He deceives (exodus 4:21, 7:3)

    No one is righteous (Romans 3:9-19 and many other places). We all love sin and ourselves more than anything. God gives people what they desire most. Where do you find fault with that?

    God gives Pharaoh what he wants, and in the process shows His glory.(Romans 9:14-18)

    But God is merciful to His people and calls them his own.(Hosea 1:10, 2:23, also quoted in Romans 9)
    He changes hearts so that we desire Him, not ourselves and our sin. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

    and He tempts (Gen 22:1)

    Couple of things here, so stay with me on this. This is a difficult section. I'll tell you what's going on, but you need to understand this is not special pleading; it fits in with the rest of Scripture.

    First, God didn't actually require Abraham to go through with it, did he? Which indicates that He didn't want Isaac to be sacrificed, He wanted to demonstrate something about Himself.

    You might then reply that God is cruel for putting Abraham through the mental anguish. Well, there's no indication of mental anguish in the text. As it happened, many cultures back then engaged in human sacrifice, of their own children in many cases, specifically the Canaanites, in whose land Abraham was at the time. Abraham may simply have assumed that God (Yahweh) was requiring of him what the other nations' gods required of them.

    But here's the point: God desired to show Abraham that He was different from the false Gods. That he really cared about Abraham and Isaac, so much that He provided a substitute sacrifice. We're all worthy of death, unless God steps in and provides a substitute "for Himself", as the text says. It's a Christ picture.

    This also may have been a prophetic symbolic act, although Abraham isn't technically considered to be a prophet, the pattern follows the "symbolic acts" of the later prophets (see Hosea 1-3, for example).

    Now, what you do with the above information is up to you. I've shown you that your "objections" are internally consistent with both Scripture and God's character. If you're going to mount an external critique, you'll be asked to provide the basis on which you are judging God's actions and to justify that basis.