Friday, August 27, 2010

A Kinsman Redeemer

This whole kinsman redeemer thing is blowing my mind wide open! Unchallenged!

The book of Ruth is a foreshadowing of the Christ to come in that, Ruth comes from a defiled nation and we are a defiled nation. Boaz redeems her. Christ redeems us. Christ is our Redeemer and -as Spurgeon says- our glorious Boaz.

The thing that has me in awe right now is the idea of Boaz, an earthly redeemer and what that says about Christ. An earthly man can be an earthly redeemer (thus modeling Christ) to a woman who is fatherless, disabled, been raped, abused or defiled in some way, abandoned, a single mother or a widow. The idea of marriage being a picture of Christ and the church is so beautiful, and to think more on the depth of redemption that can come with it is staggering! Jesus alone can save as Redeemer, however an earthly man can model Christ to be an earthly redeemer. When a man sees something in a woman that is undesirable (we ALL have something) and chooses to love her anyway, he becomes an earthly redeemer.

The fore mentioned women have an opportunity to understand their savior and His redemption in a way that others cannot. These women undergo sufferings as well as being given a proverbial scarlet letter by society. To secular men, these women are prey. Another man has done the work of hurting her, taking her dignity and strength, leaving opportunity for other predators to move in, take what they want and leave.
To the religious man these women are trash. She didn't grow up in a Christian home: she isn't good enough for him. She was involved in some sort of sexual sin: she is defiled and not good enough for him. She doesn't have parents: she hasn't been taught in the ways of righteousness therefore not good enough for him. She is disabled: she isn't good enough for him. She has a child from another man: she isn't good enough for him.

Let me pause here and say that the religious man is missing a gem. James tells us that suffering is counted as joy. Psalm 32 and Romans 4:7 tell us that those whose transgressions are forgiven are blessed. From my own life let me make this observation: there is abundantly more joy in the life of someone who is aware of the depth of their sin and knows God's forgiveness. There is abundantly more joy in the life of someone who leans on Christ in the midst of suffering. The more repentant sin, the more forgiveness given. The more suffering, the more comfort given. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the more covered by grace -whether comfort in suffering or forgiveness in sin- the more sanctified, purified faith, thankful, and joyful the receiver. This could very well be the making of the woman talked about in Psalm 128:3 and Proverbs 12:4; 11:16 and 31. Put that in your pocket and I'll move on.

The wise, godly Christian brother redeemer is aware of her past and sees that Christ's blood is more than sufficient to cover and cleanse her, making her pure and holy. When a man becomes an earthly redeemer and marries a woman like this, he tells everyone around them, "It doesn't matter where she came from, what she has done or been involved with, she loves Jesus, He has saved her, He has cleansed her, He has redeemed her and I love her. I recognize God's work in her and now choose to be a part of redeeming her legacy." I venture to guess that redemption with joy will be a constant part of this couple's life. That is super cool... super-natural too. ;-)

In doing this, men are also acting like Christ. They are taking part as Boaz did:

Boaz was a near kinsman redeemer (a brother in Christ if you will).
Christ became flesh to identify with us and become our near kinsman.

Boaz was able to redeem Ruth.
Christ alone is able to redeem us.

Boaz was not obligated to redeem Ruth but he was willing - he loved her.
Christ is not obligated to redeem us but He is willing - He loves us.

Boaz payed the price of the land to redeem Ruth with his wealth.
Christ payed the price of our sin to redeem us with His life.

Boaz redeems Ruth as a gift.
Christ's redemption is a gift, we do nothing but accept it.

Boaz takes Ruth as his bride, he loves her and has an unbroken on going relationship with her. Christ takes the church, His beloved bride and has an unbroken continual relationship with her.

Boaz not only redeemed Ruth but he also redeemed the land.
Christ will return to redeem us and His earth.

My beloved sisters, if God was able and willing to redeem Ruth, He is willing and able to redeem you. In Matthew chapter one, the genealogy includes five women. First is Tamar, a widow who deceived her father-in-law by dressing as a prostitute to conceive with him (Gen 38). Second is Rahab who was a prostitute (Josh 2, 6). Third is Ruth, a widow and Moabite of whom were forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut 23:3). Fourth we have Bathsheba who was an adulteress with King David (2 Sam 12). Lastly we have Mary, mother of Jesus who was thought to be defiled before marriage (Matt 1:18-20). These women were redeemed, either by their husbands or their children but ultimately by God Himself. I am not saying you need a husband and children to be redeemed, I am saying Christ redeems and God in His gracious love has given us an earthly picture of that redemption. In the book of Ruth we are given hope that God may be preparing a Boaz for us and He has already given us our glorious Boaz.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Redeeming Ruth

I have been listening to the sermon series, Redeeming Ruth by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. It has been super helpful as I encourage my single sisters -and myself- to wait on the Lord. He is at work and His timing is perfect.

One 'parable' I have been using to encourage is this:
There is a young woman who is protected and loved by her family. She has some trials but overall lives a quiet life. In college she meets a wise and godly man and after graduation, they are married. This woman loves and appreciates her husband.
There is a second woman -a Moabite if you will- who grows up in a perverse community. No father protecting her, no mother teaching her. She is used and abused for the majority of her life until she meets Jesus and flees from that life. She waits years "past her prime" as the Lord is growing and sanctifying her. Finally, past the age of "normal" cultural Christian marriage, she is married to a wise and godly man. How much more will this woman love her husband? How much more will she appreciate and rejoice over this gift from her Father? In eternity, how much more will this woman rejoice over no more tears in heaven and communion with her Redeemer?!

God has a hand in our suffering.
God has a hand in our 'luck' (His sovereignty).
God has a hand in our blessing.
God has a hand in our risks.
God has a hand in our redemption.

Seek patience my dear sisters. God is working in you and also in your future husband -you may not want him yet! ;-)
Do not let impatience lead you to initiating and thus emasculating a man. You do not want to mess with God's design.
Godly men seek godly women, so seek first the Kingdom wholeheartedly. Ultimately, we are daughters of the Most High God. We serve Him and in the end, WE GET JESUS! The perfect man. The perfect Redeemer. The perfect Bridegroom.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Cup, His Glory

As some of you may now know, recently my neurologists have added Fibromyalgia to my long list of diagnoses.
In everything else I had been diagnosed with, there was still a glimmer of hope that I'd be cured. Though none of them had a clear fix -there was no, "take two and call me in the morning"- I did see healing. I knew that God could bind up my wounds and thus heal PTSD and possibly reverse Psychosomatization as He had already been replacing depression and anxiety with hope. The nerve pain and headaches that had previously rendered me bed ridden had, for the most part, healed. I still struggled with both but on a vastly lower level. And now chronic muscle pain and spasms were my biggest complaints.

I visited my general doctor and asked if we could try massage therapy and muscle relaxers to help with muscle pain and fatigue I was still having. I assumed this was just a plateau for a time before I got better. I wasn't seeking any answers because it seemed to me that my God was healing me and this season of pain was soon to be over. So when I had two neurologists telling me "Fibromyalgia", I was a bit surprised. To be more accurate, I was in disbelief. I checked their notes, went home and Googled it, looked over my pain journal and began looking for second opinions.

I went through the stages of grief quite quickly and very aware of every step. I had been through it so much that it was pretty routine. Ultimately, I came to realize that nothing has changed and I have lost nothing. The pain and weakness in my body did not change. God did not change. He is still the living God of the Universe and I am still going to Him... but when I get there I'll be carrying in my body more of the death of Jesus than I had thought.

I believe that God can heal this syndrome even if man cannot. However, I also believe that God's glory is revealed to man more in longsuffering. Think about it. If God miraculously heals someone, how often, how quickly will that one act be forgotten? I can't promise that every breath would be a breath of thankfulness for what He had done. Yet, in longsuffering man will be continually perplexed by supernatural hope, supernatural joy, supernatural peace. Chronic pain is a chronic reminder of Christ - you can't get away from either if you tried. God can show His glory in one act and He can show His glory for a lifetime. I welcome God's glory for my lifetime with tears of pain overshadowed by supernatural hope, supernatural joy, and supernatural peace. No contest.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Community Matters More Than...

My community group has been having worship/testimony night once a month. It is a really exciting time to come together and worship God and hear stories of how He has been working in the lives of the people around me. That being said, these nights have come with anxiety for me. It was leaked to my community group leader that I used to sing opera and I was asked to contribute my voice. Now let me just say, I love music and played for 15 years in some sort of band or musical theatre... as a drummer. I have missed being part of a band something aweful but I would not have never volunteered myself to be the sole voice of an ensemble. I sang in choir and in the chorus ensemble of the opera or musical theatre, but I was never brave enough to sing solo. There is just something about the voice that is far more intimate and personal than any other instrument.

Today I read this post from Ray Ortlund and was totally convicted about my motivations to not sing. I have been more worried about how I feel about singing and not even seeing what God is doing with it. This seems to be a theme as of late - God asking me to do things that I do not believe I am qualified for and then realizing that by being shy I am cursing His blessing and not doing His will. Whether or not I am good at what He is asking me to do matters not. He will use it for His glory and make it perfect. As I help lead worship, God is using me to facilitate community... no matter how pitchy I may be.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Heart Today

I've been studying through the book of Matthew with my community group and next week we will be looking at chapter 24. Verse 12 puts a healthy fear in me, "because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold". I want to go Home to be with Jesus so fervently that sometimes it is hard to be patient and I am tempted not to endure this life with joy. But in Christ we have been made free. He can make anything beautiful. Though I have not yet entered into heaven nor seen my savior face to face; I miss Him.

i miss You

by shane barnard and will hunt

put down your paper plate
come to the table made
deep blue china
found on the table by the wine
so fine

it brings out flavor
like You bring out color in life

oh, i miss You so
the feel of forever
oh, that taste i know
it hurts to remember

unfortunately high
ironically dissatisfied
i miss You
i miss You
i miss You

oh, i miss You so
the feel of forever
oh, that taste i know
it hurts to remember

i had a fleeting thought this morning
and i mentioned you today
it breaks my heart just to know You in part
and not to be with You where You are

oh, i miss You so
the feel of forever
oh, that taste i know