Archive | January, 2013

The Resolve To Love – – Without an Asterisk

31 Jan

I felt a little sheepish when I read back over the last post in preparation for this one and realized I hadn’t clearly stated that marrying Brett and the privilege of being Miss Britt’s Momma were definitely my biggest blessings.  I’m hoping that the sentiment was a given and needed no explanation, but just in case — Biddinger Duo, I love you so and I give thanks for the very good gifts you are each day.

Even though I love the Dynamic Duo with all my heart, and from the seat I now occupy in time can honestly say “I wouldn’t change a thing,” I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that my life has taken some turns that I did not expect when I said “I do.” If you’re married, I bet the same is true for you.  If you’re single, honey, it will be.  Not many of us, when we get married and say “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,” have any clue what we’re saying.

Just imagine if we actually comprehended the commitment we were making as we exchanged vows.  And do you Marilyn, promise to love and cherish Brett even when you are celebrating your 5th anniversary and realize he still hasn’t learned to read your mind?  Do you promise to honor and partner with him in the pursuit of your dreams when after having been married 10 years he still drives too fast and rides the cars in front of him?  And will you love him above all others when he insists you buy a dryer without seeing it in person and it melts all your favorite socks?

Lest we think all the future revelations are for the bride, I’m certain most grooms have no idea what is in store for them when romance meets reality.  Poor Brett.  I’m so certain he did not sign up for toothbrushes slathered with dripping white goo, eyebrow hair sculptures in the sink, or “winter legs.”  And Girlfriend, if you’re from Michigan or any place cold weather sets in, you know what I am talking about there.

I think it’s probably best that we don’t stare straight into the face of real life and see our spouses-to-be without at least a hint of rose colored glasses prior to our marriage. Imagine if Brett had looked at the ankle bones above my lace covered wedding shoes and seen the shadow of the coming winter.  We did get married in September so if it hadn’t been a special occasion . . . . . I’m just sayin.

Picture what might happen if we knew the unsanded, ungroomed truth looming just the other side of the honeymoon?  How many of us would stand firm in our desire to be together until “death do us part” if we knew in advance about the hair sculptures in the not-so-distant future or the melted socks on the horizon?  Might we decide that dealing with the imperfections and unmet expectations just wasn’t worth it?  Unfortunately, because I know the fickleness of my own heart, I can state with certainty that apart from Christ, my love is conditional at best and self-centered at worst.

Unlike the unfailing love that I have received from my faithful God and Savior, my love comes with an asterisk –*until my expectations aren’t met.  And my asterisk love is not limited to my husband; it extends to my Divine Bridegroom as well.  Can you imagine the God who is jealous for me (Exodus 34:14) offering all that He is to keep my heart safe, secure, and wanting me to be devoted solely unto Him being met with:  “I will love only you if ___________.”?  Your fill-in-the-blank might be different than mine but we can easily come up with some general answers to paint a pretty good picture of the things that steal our attention and our affection.  Might the “I LOVE YOU” we profess be more accurate this way:     I love you.*

* if my children are happy and content.

* if I am successful and happy in my job.

* if I have a nice home and money in the bank.

* if I do not experience pain—physical or emotional.

I might not have hit on yours, but I bet you know without a lot of thought what comes after your asterisk.

Here’s the thing.  God doesn’t tell us to love only Him because it does a thing for Him. Remember, regardless of who or how I am God has always been, is today, and will continue to be perfect (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).  He needs nothing from me (Acts 17:25).  He has no unmet inner need.  It really took me a long time to get over the notion (I pray you aren’t offended by this and ask you to stick with me on it) that God was a “glory hound.”  I had this warped picture of a red-eyed God with a lightning bolt in the sky demanding that all eyes and all hearts be focused on Him.  I had no idea that an undivided heart served me – not Him.

That’s right. His desire for my heart to be undivided, to love Him with no asterisks, serves only me.  Because only when my eyes and my heart are fully pursuing the God who is Unfailing Love can I hope to  begin to love others.  It is His love living in me that reaches beyond my human limitations and loves my husband, my child, my friends, and my enemies.  When I am firmly determined to love Him with everything I am, when I am resolved to be filled with His Spirit –no asterisks involved—I will live life to the full.  I will possess life beyond my wildest imagination when I live, move and have my being in Him (Acts 17:28).  This is not only the future inheritance He has set aside for me (1 Peter 1:3-6).  It’s the asterisk free living He calls me to now.

Sisters, the Beautiful One has declared that He is enthralled with your beauty (Psalm 45:11).  He promises that His great love toward you will stand firm forever and that His faithfulness was established in Heaven Itself (Psalm 89:2).  He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)–and doesn’t your heart just know that it’s a love song.   Yes, the One who is Love has chosen you to be His beloved and based on the authority of His Word, I guarantee that you can search the pages of your Bible from now until the end of our age and  . . . . . you will never find an asterisk.

God has Resolved to be God–Malachi 3:6

28 Jan

2013 is somewhat of a milestone year for the Biddinger crew.

Brett and I will be married 25 years this September.


 Britt will turn 20 in April



we will celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the accident that rendered Brett a quadriplegic in June.


Yep, you read that right.  I chose the word celebrate when referring to what we believed, at the time, to be the worst thing that could possibly happen.    Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t start out with a spirit of celebration about the accident.  We have had and occasionally still have days of great sadness.  To be honest, we sometimes just get tired of doing the thing.  But those moments, praise God, are few and far between.

We most often embrace our lifestyle with joy and, without a doubt, the wheelchair has been the catalyst for faith lesson after faith lesson.  I’ve often heard Brett tell people that if he were offered the choice between a restored spinal cord and the faith heritage we are leaving Brittany that there simply would be no choice.   So my man and I walk through each day . . .well, I walk and he rolls (c’mon you have to have a sense of humor) . . .knowing that our God has gone to great lengths to redeem our inheritance and confident that He always does the good thing.

He always does the good thing because as we read in James, He is the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).  It is who He introduced Himself as in the opening Book of Genesis when He gave His good creation to Adam and Eve to steward.  It is who He was when He gifted us with Jesus and it is who He will be when He presents the beauty of the New Heaven and the New Earth to His children. And yes, personal experience confirms for me, it is who He is today.  You see ladies, your God does not change.

I believe that all of Scripture hangs on this one immutable fact:  God does not change.  He is and will remain the God who He announces and shows Himself to be:  always holy, always love, always compassionate, always trustworthy, always just, and always faithful.  If we could but wrap our minds around the unchanging nature of God, taking it from head knowledge to heart assurance, we would not worry or be anxious about . . . well, about anything.  We would have certainty that His intentions for us are good and we would have no doubt that what God sets about to do, He accomplishes.  Who knows, if we were to grab hold of that simple truth, we might even stop trying to be the god of our own lives. Believe me, as one who has tried to fill the position time and time again; we don’t have what it takes to do the job.

Yes , my God is faithful.  He is faithful to Himself.  What He has declared Himself to be is what He always has been and what He is today.  The same God that breathed life into Adam is at work breathing His Spirit into those who believe in His Son today (Genesis 2:7, Romans 5:5) .  The Almighty One who claimed the Israelites as His own and announced He would form them into a holy nation and kingdom of priests has claimed the same for His children in the present age.(Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).   And the same God who dressed Adam in sacrifice has clothed those who believe from head-to-toe in Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:21, Galatians 3:27) .  Beloved, be secure.  Know to the marrow of your bones.  Trust beyond what your eyes see.  Your God will not change.

I wonder if we might have difficulty fully rejoicing in that statement or comprehending the gravity of it because it is simply beyond our human experience.  Unfortunately, we live in a world scattered with broken promises and filled with less than perfect character. Might it be that our experiences with those on planet earth have left us with preconceived notions of undependability and distrust that we hang around God’s neck?

Scripture seems to bear out that our penchant to compare what we know and have experienced to that which we do not fully understand does not surprise God.  In fact, He drew the comparison Himself and flat out says that He is not a man that He should lie nor a son of man that He should change His mind (Numbers 23:19).  The same verse tells us that God does not say He is going to do something and fail to follow through or make promises that He doesn’t keep.  It simply is not His supernatural style.  He has resolved to be faithful.  Faithful to Himself.  He has been God, He is God, and He will continue to be God.

I, the LORD, do not change.         Malachi 3:6

Try and set your preconceived notions and very human experiences aside for a moment and drink in exactly what that verse is saying.  The prophet Malachi was inspired to use the proper name of God (YHWH), which encompasses His wholeness and perfection, to highlight the absolutely complete and unchanging nature of God.  Barnes’ Notes on the Bible makes the following observation on this passage:

The proper name of God, “He who is” involves His unchangeableness.  For change implies imperfection; it changes to that which is either more perfect or less perfect:  to somewhat which that being, who changes, is not or has not.  But God has everything in Himself perfectly. (Emphasis added)

God cannot be dissuaded from being God.  His perfect character and nature require no alteration.  His perfection guarantees that who He is, is who He will remain.  He is perfect love and He is perfectly holy. And Beloved, He has chosen to love the very unholy and very imperfect — you and me.

It is warm and fuzzy to think that God’s faithfulness is simply to us, but the truth is, He is faithful to us because He is first faithful to Himself.   Read over that again and try to wrap your mind around the fact that God’s faithfulness has nothing to do with you.  One of the reasons that’s so hard is because, if we’re honest, we want everything to have something to do with us.

So why does God love you?  Because of your righteous and outstanding nature?  No, God loves you because He said He would (Romans 5:8).  Why did He send His Son to take your punishment and offer you a redeemed life?  Because you deserved it?  Again no.  He did it because He said He would (Genesis 15:17). And why has God blessed you with the indwelling Holy Spirit so that you might desire Him?  Again, God, in His full perfection and unchanging nature, said He would and so He does (John 14:26). And these things will not change because He will not change.

Praise His Name, He is immovably, unshakably, faithful to Himself which means that neither our lack of faith nor our imperfect acts have the power to change the Almighty.  That’s not my opinion, that’s His declaration:

if we are faithless, he will remain faithful,

for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2:13

Girlfriend, do you see the heart of your perfect God in all this?  None of your shortcomings, none of your “less than moments”, and not even your faithlessness can change the heart of God.  Author Jen Smidt takes all my ramblings and ties them together with a giant, red, succinct bow:

“Embracing God’s faithfulness to himself frees us from the devastating effects of thinking we have anything to do with the way he sees us.  God sees his children through the atoning blood of his Son, covering us for every act of treason and rebellion we have committed.  He isn’t faithful to us because of anything we have done well or poorly. . . .”

Sister, your God loves you so and He will not change His mind concerning you.  Your imperfections do not scare Him.  In fact, He longs to lavish you with His love (1 John 3:1).  He has promised to work all things out for your good and as we read in Numbers, and I have testified, He is always true to His Word.  I have no doubt, regardless of my circumstance or of what my limited vision perceives, that He is the Giver of all good gifts and, may I be so bold as to say, He’s wild about me.  And you know what?  He’s wild about you too.  He has summoned you by name and you are His (Isaiah 43:1).  Resolve to fix your eyes on the One who has His heart firmly fixed on you and you can be certain that He will show you His Glory.

Resolve: a firm determination

23 Jan

It is January 23, 2013.  For many people it is the time the rubber meets the road for those New Year’s resolutions.  Will they become life-changing habits or will we gently say to ourselves, “good try”? I honestly didn’t make any resolutions this year because I am praying that the resolution I made in 2012 will be at the forefront of my mind until I no longer glimpse Glory but live in His presence.  At the end of 2011, I sat with a group of the most beautiful Bible study partners a woman could be blessed with and listened as one after the other chatted about what they resolved to do differently in the upcoming year.  Now from the outside, you would think that every one of these ladies had it so together that they would simply need to keep doing whatever it is that they were doing to be satisfied in life. And yet, every single one ached to change.  To improve.  To be different.

Some described the changes they were after with embarrassed giggles and others with firm statements.  “I’m going to take all that laundry off my treadmill and really use it this year!”  “I’m pulling all those sticky notes out of my datebook and getting my schedule under control.”  “This will be the year I actually read through the Bible without skipping Leviticus!”  And the list of do’s and don’ts flowed through the room.  But no matter how it was stated or what area was being scrutinized, it was clear that the resolve to pursuit change was in the air.  Believe me, I had my own list as long as my arm, but as I sat there listening and in the days that followed I began to ponder the concept of resolve.

If you look up resolve in the dictionary, one of the definitions offered is: a firm determination.  And if you will let your mind wander to the last time you resolved to do something, you’ll see that the definition is accurately descriptive.  Let your mind’s eye glance at your determined posture as you contemplate the change. Your eyes are focused. Your jaw is set and your head is slightly tipped forward to take the brunt of any obstacle that might be encountered.  You Sister, are firmly determined to do the thing!

The truth is, rather we give voice to it or not, everyone on the planet is living a life of resolve. We are each engaged in the pursuit of something.  It looks different on different people, but it’s there.  Not only is it there, but it drives every decision and every investment of our time, energy, and resources.   So the challenge God put out to me, and the one I would like to share with you is:  What if, rather than pursuit the what of life, we resolve to pursuit the Who and allow Him to determine the what?

What might we experience if we resolve to know God better and ask for His blessing of wisdom and revelation to do just that (Ephesians 1:17)?  Where might we go if we resolve to submit to His authority and trust Him for all the outcomes in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-7)?  Will we do it perfectly never removing our gaze from Him?  No, but we can depend on God to bring beautiful things from our firm determination to seek His face (Psalm 37:23-24).  Our shortcomings do not take our God by surprise.   In fact, He was well aware of them when He “determined the time and exact place” (Acts 17:26) our imperfect resolve would be displayed for His glory.  And with full knowledge of our less-than-moments, He planned to bless those with eyes to see (Matthew 13:16) with glimpses of His glory.

Why am I so confident of this?  Because God has been demonstrating His RESOLVE to reveal His glory to His children since He began time and He will close our chronos with a fresh revelation of Himself.  It is who He has been and who He will be.  The Great I AM does not change ( Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).   Since we exist somewhere between Jude and the closing verse of Revelation, we can be certain that His resolve to be seen applies to us every bit as much as it did to the Israelites and the Apostles.  Beloved, God has chosen you as His child and has woven you into the world timeline.  He will not hide from you or change His mind concerning you.  And if we will lay all else aside and resolve to love Him and pursuit Him with all we are, I believe He will meet our very ordinary efforts with the very extraordinary–Himself.

This has been the desire of my heart for the last year and God has shown this ordinary woman more than someone like her ought to see.  His faithfulness to Himself and His promises have astounded me and He has amazed me for my sake over and over again.  And in my imperfect resolve to pursuit the Who, I have seen His Glory unfold in the Most Holy Place and I have been assured that I am welcome to dwell there.  Yes, the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6) and if we will resolve to live there with our eyes wide open, we will, without a doubt, glimpse Glory.  For the Glorious One has guaranteed that we, even in our imperfection, who seek hard after Him will not be disappointed.

I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you,

not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else,

I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (The Message)

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