Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

He Reigns

One of the Elders said, "Dont weep. Look--the Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David's Tree, has conquered. He can open the scroll, can rip through the seven seals." Revelation 5:5

 

The tomb is empty. His presence is reigning within your heart-bold, alive, and courageous. He has conquered death, the death in you. He calls you today to rise up with Him in victory and live your life in His life with the fullness of God. He will make His home in your heart as you trust in Him, and your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. God will give you power and He will shine light on you to give you wisdom, then you will know how wide and how long, how deep, and high, His incredible love is for you. With all of this upon you, there will be the experience of Christ's love, and in Him you will be complete with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Your God is able to accomplish, through His mighty power within you, far more than you can ever imagine or even think or ask! So, let today be the day that you give Him, the Reigning Lion King, all the glory!

 Let there be light! This is the day the king of Glory lives with fullness in your heart, mind and soul. Forever and ever, Praise to the King!

Through the Eyes of the Groom by Ken Johnson

 This is a special feature story of a wedding. My friend Leslie married last Fall, and this tells the story through the eyes of her groom. He is a brave, Godly man.

Where You Go, I Will Go…

My eyes shot open and I was instantly fully awake.  There was no grogginess to let the realization of the day’s magnitude seep into my realization.  I woke with my mind shouting, “IT’S YOUR WEDDING DAY!”  

I lay in the darkness with just a sliver of light from the street peeking through my bedroom window.  There were only two sounds that spoiled complete silence.  I could hear the blustery wind outside churning up unpredictably, then calming and churning again.  And, I could hear the hurried and steady beating of my heart, a strange combination of the flurry of what was happening just outside of me and the excited poom-POOM-poom-POOM-poom-POOM… of what was happening inside me.

I listened to the play of rhythms till dawn, when I sat up and began to live out the day that I had doubted for so long.  Then the questions began, like the whirling wind.  Will anyone be able to hear us in this wind?  Is everything for the wedding party already at the church?  Do I have time to get the coffee and doughnuts?  Is this really happening?  Am I sure that I am sure that this is right? What shirt do I wear to my own wedding?  Is there any gas in my car? Thoughts rushed and surged.  It wasn’t until I made my way outside that the cool wind slapped me into focus. I stood on the front step for a few moments and breathed in the fresh air and I suddenly remembered what all the rushing and tumble of my thoughts was really about:  Leslie.

Poom-POOM-poom-POOM… She is going to be my wife… Poom-POOM-poom-POOM.  

Thoughts of my beautiful bride-to-be both steadied and calmed me.  When I got into my car, I paused again, thanking God for her, the day and for a promise on the verge of fulfillment.

As I eased my car out into the road focus remained, but it was off.  Details became intensely magnified while I became oblivious to very practical things.  Every breath became noticeable, almost intentional and I noticed leaves skitter past me, spinning in the wind.  I noticed a small shaking, murmur coming from my defrost fan; all this while I didn’t notice a side street stop sign until I was through the intersection.

Poom-POOM-poom-POOM… Leslie is going to be my wife… Poom-POOM-poom-POOM.  

When I did stop in to get doughnuts, the girl behind the counter asked, “How you doin’ today?”

It was fun to reply, “Well, I’m getting married today, so I’m great!”

The guy behind me bought the doughnuts.

I got underway again and my driving became even more cautious.  Anticipation gathered and exploded and gathered again.  Every movement intensified and slowed as my heart kept beating faster.  Making a left turn: turning on the signal and waiting for oncoming cars to pass seemed agonizingly slow and the quiet surrounding me as I waited at a stoplight almost crushed me.

Finally, my heart leapt as I turned into the church.  There weren’t many cars in the lot and the trees on each side were busy wrestling with the wind.  I crept into a space and sat with my engine running.  I just stared at the church, I’m not even sure I blinked.  Thoughts of Leslie flooded my mind.  She was in that building, somewhere.  Making preparations.  Getting ready to become my wife.  

Poom-POOM-Poom-POOM-poom-POOM.  

I snapped out of it when a particularly strong gust shook my car.  It was time to go in—deliver the baked goods and to get ready myself.  I came in the door, turned to the right and was met by Bethany, one of Leslie’s bridesmaids.  We said hello, giggling, and chatted before I handed her the food for the ladies and made my way to the Sunday school room that would serve as a dressing room for the men.

I entered, left the lights off and sat in a chair bowing my head as my hands instinctively folded into one another.

Poom-POOM-Poom-POOM-poom-POOM.  It all hit me, all at once – What Leslie and I had already been through.  Poom-POOM— the messiness of ex-husbands and step kids—Poom-POOM-Poom-POOM the magnitude of the commitment, the doubts of some that this was right and biblical, the doubts I had in myself of being strong enough for this -- Poom-POOM-Poom-POOM-poom-POOM— 

I simply asked for mercy.

Then, calmly, the story of Ruth flowed into my mind.  Leslie and I had read it together and, at least for me, it had become a picture of what I wanted out lives to be together, a picture of redemption.  She chose to journey to an entirely new world with nothing to gain, she chose to trust when possibilities seemed almost non-existent; she chose love over safety.  That’s what I was doing, choosing love over safety.

And I loved Leslie.  She was going to be my wife.

Through the Eyes of the Bride by Ken Johnson

 My friend Leslie married last September. Her groom, Ken wrote this from her point of view. This is a special post for them, because they are special friends that love Jesus and shine His light to others. I wanted to share their story. 

… A Hope and a Future

I realized it as Jenn shook the front of my dress as a finishing touch.  It sounded like the rustling of leaves in the breeze.  My heart jumped and I shivered.  This was actually happening...

I looked down at her to my left, a smile burst on my face as I saw her smiling up at me.  We laughed to each other and it just kept going until all my ladies in the room joined in.  Each one had been with me through so much and now, to have them here beside me in a moment so full of the past, the present and the future all at once, it locked a knowing in my heart, a peace anchored in the assurance that this day was a gift from God.

As Jenn continued to fluff and primp the front of my wedding dress, Laurinda, who was to my right joined in very gently, soothing the dress with her hands.  I was so glad when excitement flashed in her eyes when I asked her to be a bridesmaid and I had felt the sincerity of that excitement when she hugged me then and I saw it in her now, as she carefully set my dress in order.  That was like her, setting things right, her hands working quietly and efficiently.  She helped me inventory the possessions of my emptiness just after the divorce, when I risked sanity over security.  Pen in hand, she was there- with me, marking down each item as an always fragile hope ended, and I began to begin again.  Now, quietly, she was marking, with me, a hope that could not be insured.  As she worked at aligning all the details of my dress, I hope she was able to know how much I admire her.

I turned my head and there was Bethany kneeling at my feet, eyes sparkling. She was seeing that the layers of my dress would fall just the right way.  That was always important to her, that things would fall rightly for people, so many people.  I doubt she knows how much I have appreciated her faithfulness, her steady and determined goodness.  With her, I've always known I was included and that I mattered.  It shocked me the first time she came over to my house, hardly knowing me, and we talked, next to that bonfire, like we had been friends like the friends we are now.  As she helped to make my dress perfect with real joy brimming quietly from her, I hope she could see how much she mattered to me.

Thankfulness swelled as I realized I was surrounded by those who really loved me.  And my eyes came back to Jenn.  She was looking right at me with a contented "I told you this day would come" look on her face.  She has been such a light in my darkness.  There's a Bible verse that talks about how Jesus didn't need to hear what other people said about somebody because he already knew what was in each person's heart.  Jenn is like that for me.  She not only knows me better than I do, but she has always been able to draw the reality of who I am out so I can see it too.  I've always liked myself when we are together because she believes in me.  Watching her fuss over me, watching her be happy for me made me so grateful for what she has endured for me.  As I smiled at her, I hope she felt how much I needed her.

Then, with everything in place, we shared a moment of stillness where everything seemed to stop and we were all able to savor what was happening.  It lasted only a moment, then we all moved toward the door, toward my new beginning, together.

Your Promised Land

Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 1:21

God has rescued you out of bondage, He has given you a treasured land, all you have to do is take ahold of it. It is yours! He has set everything right before you, now go up and possess it. There may be many things that bring fear and discouragment along the way, but He says to keep going and do not look at them.  He has spoken to your forefathers and given you a promise.

What is your Promised Land? What has God set before you, where are you going? 

Has He given you an impossible dream? Has He set you in a place of turmoil and placed the promise of courage upon you? Has He promised you that even though today you are walkiing slow, your promised land sees you flying on wings of eagles? Has He told you that words of peace and boldness will ring from your tongue and nations will hear your voice? Has He put His promise within you and set His sword in your hands and whispered in your ear to "GO"? 

God has set the land before you; go up and possess it! Let this be your day to run after the very promise He has made to you and do not stop, but GO!

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