Transitions and Adventures...

10:31 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
Well. I haven't posted on here in a while. *looks around* *sees cobweb* *swats it off the wall* Ick. Sorry, guys... guess life overran this thing a little bit.

I don't expect to be posting on here in the future, either, as a matter of fact. God has a new adventure for me now. In summer 2012 I will be attending something called the One Thing Internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. This will be a focused six month period of my life to completely devote myself to prayer, learning, growing, ministry, but most of all long hours of one on one intimacy with Jesus. This has been the desire of my heart for several years now... if you've been reading ABG long you've been watching the seeds of this dream slowly growing. I am Mary of Bethany, and I want to pour out my life on Jesus' feet, just like I wrote about more than two years ago.

I've started a blog to chronicle my journey towards IHOP, and to share what God's teaching me. It will be similar to ABG at times, but also a lot more personal and hopefully deeper because I won't be aiming at one particular target audience. One thing I've discovered in the past few years of writing ABG is that my message has outgrown the original "teen girl" audience. That was something that I struggled with, wondering if what I was writing was in conflict with my original mission, and thus I think it's a good time to transition into a blog that is much more personal, and genuine, and open. Less Brio magazine, more confessions of one soul in love.

So I invite you to come check out www.fragrancearise.wordpress.com. I've also put up archives of my favorite ABG posts, so you can reread them there if you like. There's lots of information about what this internship is, how I'm planning to get there, the dreams God is putting on my heart... I hope you enjoy it. It may be my journey, but it can be yours too if you'd like to share it with me. I love my readers here dearly, and I want you all to come along for the ride.

Come and watch the miracle unfold.

He's Alive, Now I'm Alive!

1:33 PM Edit This 2 Comments »

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3 ESV

Today is the day we celebrate Jesus' victory over death and the glorious hope that has been given to us. Happy Easter!


Absolute Certainty

6:18 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
As you may or not know, I’m pretty much in love with the Circle series by Ted Dekker. It has illuminated and completely changed so much of my life. The past few days, a few lines from White, book three, have been especially rolling around my head. It happened at a council meeting during a time of crisis among the Circle…

“Slow down,” Thomas said. “Please! This kind of division will destroy us. We must remember what we know as certain.”
He looked at Jeremiah again. “Remind us.”
“As certain?”
“Absolute certainty.”

I don’t know about you, but I usually tend to have a lot of questions about my life. What’s going to happen with…? Will I ever…? Why do I…? Does God really…? Most of the time it feels like there are way more things that I don’t know than things I do know.

Sometimes it’s good to go back and remember what I know for certain.

So I decided to try something in my journal. I drew a line down the middle of the page and made two lists, Things I Don’t Know and Things I Do Know. On the first list I got really gut-honest and poured out all my questions, frustrations, fears, and insecurities. I put things like:
  • What to do in August or with the rest of my life.
  • If/when I’m going to have a chance to truly be in love.
  • How I can love God so much and betray him so often.
  • What God created me for (more specifically than “loving him”).
and lots more.

I stared at that for a while. That’s a lot of uncertainty. I don’t like uncertainty. I like to know things.

So I began to write on the second list some of the Things I Do Know, things like:
  • God is good. All the time. And he LOVES me.
  • His plans are better than mine.
  • He is writing my love story.
  • His faithfulness is forever, and his mercy is new each day.
  • God does NOT hold my betrayals against me.
  • I really was created to love him.
  • He’s got me in the palm of his hand.
  • He Sees me.
  • He knows I love him even more than I know I love him.
  • He calls me [here I put all the precious and secret nicknames he has for me—tee-hee!]
  • My inheritance and my DESTINY are in Christ.
  • He is my portion.
  • Etc.

Lo and behold, I ran out of paper before I ran out of truth.

Underneath all that I wrote in huge letters:

THIS LIST > THAT LIST.

What more do I need to know?

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
Job 19:25

Obsession and Meditation

6:26 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
You know how when you’re obsessed with something your mind’s “default position” is to be thinking about that thing? And how you can make inside jokes and random references and tie it into almost anything? Depending on what I’ve been watching or reading a lot of lately, I do that sometimes with Star Trek, or Doctor Who, or Ted Dekker books, or even Twilight. It’s pretty normal these days for me to pop out with a Doctor Who quote in daily conversation—complete with British accent—and if I’m spacing out, staring at the wall, there’s a good chance I’m daydreaming about flying off with the Doctor in that impossible blue box. Yep, I am certifiably obsessed.

What would it be like to have that same kind of obsession with something far more epic and timeless and amazing than any of those fantasy worlds? What would it be like to be obsessed with the Living and Active Word of God?

Sound crazy? Sound impossible? Oh, it’s possible, but to get there, we’re going to have to break through a few old habits.

King David was a man unashamedly infatuated, preoccupied, and otherwise obsessed with God’s Word. He wrote Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, and spends some 176 verses enthusing over the Law of the Lord. Over and over, David makes passionate exclamations like, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (verse 97) (And to think, David only had a few books of Scripture! I bet his mind would have absolutely exploded if he could have seen the 66-book amazingness we call a Bible today.)

We’ve been doing something this year called The Journey 2011—a challenge to read all 66 books of the Bible in a year. It’s been really amazing so far. This kind of disciplined Bible reading is somewhat new to me; it’s only been since October of last year that I’ve been finding any sort of daily rhythm. During that time, God’s been teaching me something that’s completely challenged the way I’ve been living for most of my Christian life:

If I want to be obsessed with God, I need to be obsessed with his Word.

There are no shortcuts; to know God, I gotta dig down deep into the number one place he has revealed himself. I have to read the Bible not just to read it and be done, but to actually meet God.

How to do this? It all boils down to that word David used: meditation.

No, I don’t mean you should read the Bible while sitting in the lotus position and intoning a steady “ommmmmmm.” That kind of “meditation” is all about emptying your mind. What God wants is for you to fill your mind with his Word.

For me, this is what it looks like: when I sit down to read my Bible, I begin by praying something that I picked up from David in Psalm 119: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (verse 18) This verse has become the foundation of how I approach the Bible. Without the Holy Spirit opening my eyes and teaching me himself as I read, it’s going to just seem like so many words. I need to stay in communication with him as I read so that I can really understand what he’s trying to tell me.

I mean, ultimately, the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, right? He knows it inside and out, he knows what he meant when he inspired the writers, and he knows how it applies to me today. Because of the Holy Spirit, the Bible isn’t a dead piece of literature—it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword”! (Hebrews 4:12) As a friend of God, I have the enormous privilege of getting to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit at my side, whispering in my ear. I can ask him, “What did you mean when you wrote this? What does this say about who you are or who I am? How can this be true if that is also true?” and he can actually tell me. How ridiculously cool is that?!

I always read with a journal and pencil handy, as well as a red pen and handful of highlighters. This is just me, but I like to underline things that are theologically interesting, and highlight things that really inspire or speak to me. And I do a lot of journaling too, for making note of my favorite verses and what’s interesting about them, and also for just journaling about how they speak to my life and my relationship with God.

Sometimes I get only halfway through my daily reading because a verse or phrase leaps out and demands that I stop and focus on it for a while. I call this getting gloriously STUCK, and it happens in the most random places. I got stuck on this verse just the other day: “The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Hmmmm… isn’t that a good verse to just stop and sit with awhile? The beloved of the LORD… I am the beloved of the LORD… The God of the universe has a beloved, and it is me… he makes me dwell, live, rest in safety… The High God surrounds me, like a warm mist, or a blanket, or a shield…what does that look like? what does that feel like?...God, I want to know that you surround me, that I am your beloved…

And that’s all meditating is. It’s taking a verse or phrase or idea and rolling it around in your mind, really soaking it in. Sometimes I’ll draw it, sometimes I’ll paraphrase it, sometimes if I’m alone I’ll sing it, sometimes I’ll just think and journal and pray through it. The more I do this, the more different words will strike me, or I will suddenly make a connection to something else I’ve read. And I always come away feeling that I know God a little bit more.

I believe the point of reading the Bible is to encounter God. It’s not to learn doctrine, it’s not to study history, it’s certainly not to fulfill a duty. It’s to encounter the living Spirit who inspired it, and although he just might teach you something about doctrine or history, ultimately, he’s going to lead you to himself. He longs for you to know his heart. The Bible is a guaranteed gateway into the genuine heart of God.

And I want to know God. I want to touch his heart.

I want to be obsessed with this thing that God calls his very Word.

I hope you do, too.

“For it is no empty word to you, but your very life…”
Deuteronomy 32:47

ABG guest blogs on GrowUp318!

7:12 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
Hello again! I do have a blog post in my compy all ready to go, however I do believe I shall save that for next week because THIS week A Beauty Glorious is being featured as a guest blogger on GrowUp318.com! GrowUp318 is written by the lovely Heather who as you may remember won our Secret Keeper giveaway a few weeks ago. She was taking a leave of absence to recover from surgery (she's doing great now) and was featuring some guest bloggers in the meantime... My post "The Mystery of Modesty" was featured yesterday. Go check it out--and while you're at it, browse the rest of Heather's blog! :)

In the meantime on this end of things, I shall leave you with the title of next week's blog... "Obsession and Meditation." Check back here next Wednesday to read it!

(By the way... this is the first time I have officially referred to A Beauty Glorious as ABG. I do so in my journal and amongst friends all the time. Feel free to join the trend. ;) )

The Journey 2011 - Remember

7:49 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
Hello again, all! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a while. In the meantime, I got a job, did a lot of sewing, and worked on catching up with The Journey 2011. I am proud to report that I am now once again on target, reading every night, and finding awesome stuff!

Since I haven’t blogged on The Journey in a while, let’s back up a bit to Exodus and look at some of what’s going on there. Quick summary, Bible in a minute style: Slavery in Egypt, “Let my people go!”, plagues, Passover, Red Sea, yay God… “Why didn’t you just let us die in Egypt?”

Wait, what?!

Seriously, that’s what they said. As I was reading through Exodus, I kept getting so frustrated and wanted to just pop back in time and Gibbs slap the entire nation of Israel. (If you don’t know what a Gibbs slap is, watch this.) Check out the timeline:

·         God rescues his people from Egypt in an especially miraculous and dramatic fashion, terrifying the Egyptians to the point that they actually kick the Israelites out. Along the way, he institutes the Passover celebration so that the Israelites can remember this event every year. (Exodus 11-12)
·         Pharaoh comes storming out with his army, trapping Israel with their backs up against the Red Sea, and they start to panic. “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)
·         Red Sea, poof! And they walk through on dry ground. Faith returns. “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31)
·         Israel complains for water; God gives them water. (Exodus 15:22-27)
·         Israel complains for bread and wishes for the “good old days” of plenty in Egypt (come on, guys, you were slaves!); God gives them manna from heaven. (Exodus 16)
·         Israel complains for water and whines that God is trying to kill them (notice the escalating whininess?); God gives them water. (Exodus 17:1-7)
·         Israel sees the glory of the Lord on the mountain, with smoke and thunder and lightening. (Exodus 19:16-20)
·         Moses disappears for a while to talk to God; in the meantime the people decide that they need a god they can see—they seem to have forgotten the light show of just a few chapters ago—so Aaron makes them a golden calf to worship. “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)

Brilliant. Just brilliant, guys. *Gibbs slap.*

And this is basically the pattern for the rest of the Old Testament, escalating to the point that Israel gets themselves exiled for their false-god-chasing ways. It’s like they’ve got some kind of spiritual amnesia.

I’m so glad I’m never like that.

*Gibbs slap*

Okay, okay, thank you, Boss.

You know, I said this was an old Testament pattern, but maybe it’s more of a human pattern. How often do we suffer from spiritual amnesia?

How often do I encounter God and then the next day act like it never happened?

How often does God come through for me in a big way—providing something just when I need it, reassuring me of his love just when I’m having doubts, proving in a million little and big ways that he hears my prayers—and the next time I’m in that situation, I don’t trust God to come through again?

How often do I experience God’s extravagant love for me and extravagantly swear my love in return, and then promptly go and flirt with other little gods—TV, Facebook, my own ego, anything I put more priority on than living out my love for him?

How often do I just plain forget to invite him into my day, and let him get crowded out with busyness—or even just busy laziness?

Spiritual amnesia. Somehow I just don’t remember.

But God remembers.
 
Jeremiah 2:2, 32 “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me into the wilderness… Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Can you hear the sorrow in this last statement? God is comparing us forgetting him to a bride showing up at her wedding without her wedding dress. It breaks his heart. He longs for the days when we were truly believing and devoted.

He is jealous to be our center once again.

And he never gives up. He keeps on pursuing, keeps on offering himself to us. Look at the story of Israel. God never gave up on them—yes, he punished them when they got too far off track, but he always brought them back. He was patient, and he still used them to bless the whole world in spite of themselves.

Thank God he does the same with me.

And Our Second Giveaway Winner Is...

1:33 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
Hey guys! Sorry this was a bit delayed. My weekend got crazy before I realized what was happening. :/ Anyway, the winner is (drum roll please...)

GrowUp318.com!

This is the lovely Heather who blogs at www.growup318.com. Y'all should check it out, and see if it encourages and challenges you as much as it has me! (I'll actually be guest blogging there next month!) Heather, you'll be hearing from me via email so I can send you your copy of Dannah Gresh's amazing book Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty.


To everyone else, thank you so much for your wonderful comments! I always love reading about your lives and the ways you are striving to chase after God's heart.



Grace and peace!