October 17, 2018

Disappointment and The Presence of God

     I’ll admit, I was disappointed. I mean, my Christian life wasn’t supposed to be this way, was it? Here I was, sixteen years old and I had been a Christian for almost a year. I didn’t feel that I had much to show for it. Yeah, I had a (mostly) regular Bible study time, and I prayed whenever I thought about it. But there was little vitality to my personal relationship with Christ. What was I missing? If this was all there was, I was utterly disappointed.

Christian bookstores today are full of books with depressing titles such as “Where is God?” “When God feels distant,” and “Deserted by God?” Modern writers and evangelists spend an inordinate amount of time helping young Christians to cope with the disappointment, disillusionment, and depression that seem to go hand in hand with following Christ these days. Songs such as “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” are sung more often in churches today because people just can’t relate to the joyful choruses of the old hymns.

I thought I might have found the solution to my problems. God spoke to my heart through several scripture passages. It seems God is interested in an intimate relationship with us as well.

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”(Deuteronomy 4:29)
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” (Proverbs 8:17)
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 19:13)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

The answers lie in these passages. If we as His children desire His presence, His manifest mercies, His blessings on our lives, and true and lasting joy, this is how we receive them; if we search after Him with all our heart and soul, if we seek Him diligently, if we ask, seek, and knock. These passages are not just talking about salvation–they are promises for believers. If you desire more of God (and you should), this is how you get it.

“Alright,” I reasoned, “Now I know the solution to what has been plaguing me for months. I just have to seek Him.” So I tried to seek Him, without really knowing what “seeking” meant. I thought if I increased my prayer time and tried to behave more godly, that would do the trick. I knew I wanted more of God. My resolve would quickly fade within a week, and I would find myself frustrated and trying to live life on my own terms again. A few weeks later I would be sick of myself and my sin, and I would try and make new resolutions and promises. “THIS time,” I said, “I will search until I find Him.”

I had good intentions, but I was like an arrow fire in no particular direction. I would not hit the target because I wasn’t sure exactly what I was aiming for. God brought a particular message into my life about that time. I loved Paul Washer. I listened to him more than any other preacher or evangelist (and still do). I found his testimony on sermonaudio.com, A Liar and A Coward. I would encourage anyone to listen to it. The first half was very inspiring. It was about his own personal life in sin and then his conversion to Christ as a young man. But the second half of the message was about His journey in seeking the Lord, and it turned my life upside-down. Let me quote at length from his own words;

 

     “For some reason, a few years after my conversion, God began to work in me a prayer life that I have never been able to duplicate since. It started out an hour a day, then two, sometimes three hours a day…And I know this sounds almost crazy to you, but I decided I would either know God or die. Now I was a Christian. I knew God. I was born again. But there was this thing that I could know Him, and that His power could be a reality in my life. And I would go into my closet and say, “I’m not going to come out until God meets with me”–and I didn’t even know what that meant–“until God meets with me, or I die.” I feel asleep fifteen minutes later and my roommates came in about three hours later and found me asleep in the closet. They thought I had totally lost my mind. So I began to set an alarm clock. Every fifteen minutes…And so the alarm would go off, it would wake me up, and I would set it and start praying again. For months all I prayed was this; “Lord, it’s been 47 days now, and you still have not come. You said if I sought you, I would find you.” And then, “Lord, it’s been 93 days”. And all I would do is sit there and go, “I’m waiting. I am not leaving.” And I would just sit there.
     “Everybody went on…some kind of college retreat that spring. I’ll never forget that. And the Lord wanted me to go into the hill country, away in West Texas. I went out there for three, three and a half days, and if someone had seen me they would have called the authorities. I’m up on top of a hill. I had gotten to the point where I was throwing rocks as high as I can into the sky saying, “Did that hit the door? Did that hit the gate? Did you hear me? I’m still here! Where are you? Where is the Lord God of Elijah?”
     “I went back to school. And one night, I was crying out to God. I didn’t know anything about prayer. I had still been a christian for only about a year or so. Crying out to God, “I’m still here.” I waited there three hours just saying, “Still here. Here I am. Still here.” And all of the sudden I just cried out, “Father, please.”
     “Now, some of you are going to disagree with me. I don’t care. But at that moment, God came into that place in such a way that I was thrown down to the ground. And I don’t know how many hours I laid there in a fetal position, covering my head with my arms, thinking that I had somehow either blasphemed or He was sick and tired of what I was doing. I was so afraid, I laid there and I couldn’t control my body. I was convinced that there were firetrucks and police and everything outside of my apartment complex because there was probably some fire coming down from heaven. And after I don’t know how many hours, I was filled with such joy. And my mouth shot open, and it was like a book of psalms shot out of my mouth…And everything changed from that day…I can tell you honestly that the presence of God is more real to me right now than the presence of all of you put together…God is a supernatural God.”

Another woman I knew of had also experienced the presence of God. She had been a young believer as well, fed up with the compromise in her Christian life. She began to seek God earnestly, giving up anything and everything that distracted her from that goal. God was merciful to her as well, and she found Him. In her own words, “We serve a God who, when His people seek Him, He lets them find Him.”

Neither of these believers are charismatic or miracle-seekers. They are both solid, Reformed Christians, well grounded in the Word. What they experienced was in no way a “second work of grace” or “baptism of the holy spirit” or anything like that. I want what they have. We were made for God. We will never be happy anywhere else but in His presence. When Christ died, the curtain in the temple separating the throne of God from the people was torn in two. We will never be more joyful than when we are doing exactly what we were designed to do–glorifying Him. And, as John Piper’s most famous quote goes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

I challenge you to begin seeking the Lord today. Seek Him with the desire to know Him even more fully than you do now. When you lose yourself in Him, everything else will fall into place. Don’t just read books, don’t just listen to sermons, don’t just talk to people who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew God. Really experience Him for yourself. Read the words God has written about Himself. Commune with the God who created you. And in everything, desire to know more of Him. It’s what you will spend all of eternity doing, my dear brother or sister in the Lord.

In Christ,
Elizabeth

The Primary Purpose of Global Evangelism

I suppose it really all began around the age of six or seven.

If you had asked me at this time (or any other age after that) what I wanted to be when I grew up, you would have received the definite answer, “I want to be a missionary!”

Of course, I didn’t come close to understand all that being a missionary entailed. In my over-imaginative mind, I assumed a “missionary” was someone who went into jungles and rain forests on the other side of the world, having loads of adventures, and occasionally telling people that “Jesus loves you” (my family and I were not Reformed until about three years ago). I had always loved the idea of adventure, and since, to me, this whole idea of being a missionary could co-exist with the idea of “church”, I thought it would be the only adventurous thing I could ever do with my life that my parents might approve of.

I was saved at fifteen. Since then, and especially in this past year, God has radically changed my outlook on global evangelism. While I still aspire to become a missionary, my ideas regarding the true purpose and goal of missions is completely changed. Actually, I am here dealing more with Global Evangelism than with missions in general. Yes, there is a difference; all Christians are “missionaries” in the sense that they bear the gospel and are told to share it with all they come in contact with. The idea of Global Evangelism carries with it the idea of one or two individual Christians going amongst a people group with little to no gospel access whatsoever, and there sharing the Word of God.

Why would a Christian ever consider being a missionary on the other side of the world? What could possibly motivate Christian men and women to travel into hostile countries, putting their lives on the line, in order to share the gospel? Why would young Christians such as Jim Elliot move to a remote swamp in South America infested with mosquitoes, gnats, and spiders (not to mention cannibals) with virtually none of the comforts he left behind in the States?

Many times I have heard this answer given; “Because of compassion for the souls of the Lost”. That is, according to these people, the “Great Goal” of global evangelism. While there certainly must be a healthy amount of compassion for those poor and impoverished people in Africa who may go their entire lives without ever hearing of their great need for a Savior, this is not the primary reason we evangelize the nations. It’s a good reason, but not the main reason.

The first and most important reason for Global Evangelism is the glory of God. Does that surprise you? We don’t go for the people, we go for God? It shouldn’t surprise you. Just as we read in 1 Corinthians 10:31, a passage we should all be very familiar with; So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Likewise, we read in Isaiah 66;

“For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
(Isaiah 66:18-19 ESV)

God is glorified when souls are saved. God is glorified when His children direct all of their efforts towards knowing and obeying Him. God is glorified in the deaths of His saints. Therefore, missions of all sorts, both local and global, are pleasing and glorifying to Him. As I have heard and read missionaries make the almost unanimous (and seemingly callous) observation from their experiences on the mission field, “Compassion for the Lost will not keep you on the mission field. Evangelism is hard. Living in another culture is hard. People are hard. Persecution is hard. Once you live in that sort of environment for a few years, you abandon every ideal and fantasy you may have had at one time about missions being “romantic”. Only a burning zeal for God’s glory will keep you on that field.”

Zeal for the glory of God gets you to the mission field, and zeal for the glory of God keeps you on the mission field. It is like that missionary (I can’t remember his name) who was serving in India. He walked into a temple and saw all of the idol-worship that was taking place. He covered his ears and ran out of the temple weeping and crying, “I cannot bear living if God’s name is to be so dishonored!” It was that same burning, all-consuming desire that God’s name be hallowed among the nations that lead men and women such as Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Gladys Aylward, Lottie Moon, the Disciples, and Paul the Apostle unto the uttermost ends of the earth.

I encourage you to spend a significant amount of time in prayer concerning missions. Pray, as Christ instructed, “for God
to send out laborers into the harvest“. Pray for the missionaries currently around the world, that their ministries would bear much fruit, whatever that fruitfulness might look like. And lastly, pray that God would create in you a greater desire
for the salvation of nations. But remember, as my Pastor says; don’t pray unless you’re willing to be sent.

Elizabeth
————————————–
I am Forgiven–Romans 4:7-8
I am a Slave of Christ–John 12:26
I am set-apart–2 Timothy 2:21
I am a new creation–2 Corinthians 5:17
I am striving to be Biblically Feminine–Titus 2:3-8
I am becoming The Proverbs 31 Woman–Proverbs 31:10-31
I am a warrior against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil–Ephesians 6:10-20
I am being conformed to the image of Christ–1 Peter 1:13-20
I am a sinner saved by grace alone–Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:8
I am a follower of Christ Jesus alone.

Are There Breeches In Your Wall?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. –2 Peter 5:8-9

In ancient times, cities were fortified to protect against attacks from the surrounding enemies. Some cities, such as the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, had incredibly thick walls, built with ingenious craftsmanship and skill. Others had  short, brittle walls that could collapse under April showers. If you had live two-thousand years ago, you would realize the absolute necessity of such protection. There were always enemies who sought to capture various small towns. There were the Huns from the East, the Vikings from the West, or the Assyrians from the North, as is the case in the story revealed in the book of Nehemiah.

In Nehemiah 1:3 we read that the city of Jerusalem was in serious danger. “The remnant there in the province who had survived the xile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire”. What’s worse is that the city is now vulnerable. It is practically welcoming the enemy in. If the Assyrians were to attack, Jerusalem would have no practical defense.

Our spiritual lives are a lot like walled cities. Within our walls are held the things that are most precious to us; our loves, our theology, our faith, our hope. Imagine if your walls were brittle or broken down, and the enemy could have that type of access inside? No, He could not ever take away your salvation. Yes, God is greater than Satan. Yes, Satan will be defeated in the end. But we as Christians cannot put down our swords and say that Christ has left us nothing to do.

This enemy is strong; he’s stronger than we are. He’s deceptive; he has had seven-thousand years of practice, after all. His goal now is to tear you down, to so twist our intellect that what lose all reason. Allow me to share some quotes that have really drive this home for me and caused me to think;

“The focus of Satan’s efforts is always the same: to deceive us into believing that the passing pleasures of sin are more satisfying than obedience.” –Sam Storms
“It grieves me to say this, but the primary reason people are in bondage to sin is because people are bored with God. One of Satan’s most effective tactics is to convince us that God is a drag.” –Sam Storms
“It strikes some as odd to say that Satan has a strategy. They mistakenly conclude that because our Enemy is sinful he must be equally stupid. Such reasoning has been the downfall of many in the body of Christ. He does not act haphazardly or without a goal in view.” –Sam Storms [Read more…]

Thoughts on Prayer

Do you pray?

I don’t mean, do you say your prayers; I mean, do you pray? The two are very different. And I don’t mean, do you pray before you go to sleep at night, or when you wake up in the morning; I mean, do you pray at all times?

I get the feeling that God is trying to teach me something about prayer. My pastor spoke a lot about prayer this Sunday. Much of my Bible reading has been on prayer lately. My C.H. Spurgeon reading has had a lot to do with prayer. I’ve listened to a dozen sermons on prayer in the last couple of weeks. Clearly, God is teaching me about prayer. While I don’t pretend to know nearly everything about it, or claim to be a prayer warrior, I would nevertheless like to share with you a handful of the life-lessons that I am learning. I hope they will bless you as they have blessed me.

First, I would like to notice The Time Set-Apart and Devoted to Prayer in a given day. I am a firm believer in having prayer times in the early morning. I hate missing that time of communion with God. It sets my day off on the wrong tracks. When I begin my day in the shadow of His throne, I find that I have a greater tendency to linger there throughout the remainder of the day. I would like to share with you some quotes on this matter by several of my favorite puritans and other Reformed men;

“If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” ~Martin Luther

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” ~E.M. Bounds [Read more…]

Introduction

Dear readers of haleydempsey.com,

What a privilege to be asked to post on this website with Haley! I wish to express my gratitude to her for extending the invitation to me. I have followed her website for about six months now, and I am really looking forward to writing with her.
I wish to say a few things in introduction to give you an idea of my vision, passion, and walk with our Lord, so you can know perhaps a little bit about me.
I was saved in February of 2011 after a long period of doubt and questions. God showed me the truth of His Word early one morning while reading the scriptures, including such passages as Psalm 51 and Romans 9. Since my salvation, God has developed in me a passion for global missions. Currently, it is my earnest desire to go to Africa as a full-time missionary as soon as my education is complete (about five more years).
Some of my Christian heroes include Charles Spurgeon, Paul Washer, David Breinard, David Livingston, CT Studd, Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Eric and Leslie Ludy, John Piper, John MacArthur, DA Carson, Katie Davis, George Wittfield, Richard Wurmbrand, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn-Kim, and Helen Rosevera.
My favorite portions of Scripture (if I could limit myself to a few!) Might include Job 38-41, Romans 9, Psalm 119, Psalm 23, Hebrews 11, 1 Corinthians 10, John 19-20,2 Coronicles 17:14-22, Matthew 28, and the books of Proverbs.
In my free time, I also enjoy drawing and writing. Generally, I write historical fiction and base my drawings off scenes from those books 🙂
AS I said, I am really looking forward to posting with Haley! This website is a medium that I pray God will use to reach many people.

Your Sister in Christ,

Elizabeth
I am Forgiven–Romans 4:7-8
I am a Slave of Christ–John 12:26
I am set-apart–2 Timothy 2:21
I am a new creation–2 Corinthians 5:17
I am Biblically Feminine–Titus 2:3-8
I am becoming The Proverbs 31 Woman–Proverbs 31:10-31
I am a warrior against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil–Ephesians 6:10-20
I am being conformed to the image of Christ–1 Peter 1:13-20
I am a sinner saved by grace alone–Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:8
I am a follower of Christ Jesus alone.