The Best Wedding Gift of All

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June is a big month in my life.

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Not just because I married my best friend on June 18, 1994 — a gift for which I am profoundly grateful.  By God’s grace and kindness, after 23 years, Steve and I are still together, and going strong.  Praise God.

But there’s also another anniversary for me to celebrate every June.

I’m talking now about the day I received a wedding gift from the Lord Himself!   Yes, directly from the Lord.

On June 14, 1994 — just four days before my wedding — He delivered it to me. Miraculously.  And now, in this, my double-anniversary month of June, I’ve just got to tell the story.

Here’s what happened…from the beginning.

In 1993, when my mother died, my dad was devastated.  Daddy and Mummy had built a life together over the course of 45 years, and now that my mother was gone…so was a part of Daddy.

After my mother’s death, when I would invite Daddy over for dinner at my little condo, he would leave at the end of the evening, saying, “I’m going home to be with your mother.”

Of course Mummy wasn’t back there at the house then anymore than she is now.  But somehow, Daddy found a certain solace and comfort sitting quietly inside the cozy kitchen where he and Mummy had whiled away so many evenings together across the years.

In point of fact, I knew my mother was safely and gloriously ensconced in the loving arms of Jesus…as I had had the honor and privilege of leading her to Christ just 13 months before her death.

After my mother died, I would ask Daddy if he wanted to “pray with me the same prayer Mummy did to receive Christ.”

The first time I asked him, he answered simply and bluntly, “No.”

The second time I asked Daddy, he kicked me to the curb with, “My mother taught me how to pray when I was three years old.”

Ok.  Well, clearly Daddy was put off by the notion that he might somehow need any kind of “help” in any kind of way to come to a saving relationship with Christ.  However, from where I sat, it was all too plain to see:

Whereas Daddy may have gotten an “A” in *religion,* he was failing miserably in the relationship-with-Christ department.  And what else is salvation than a relationship with the living Christ?

As the Gospel of John says:

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  ~ John 17:3 NKJV

Daddy was still living as ruler of his own life, and had never surrendered his life to Christ.  And I have often told the Lord that if I only had one prayer in life that could be answered it would be to see every member of my family saved.

Thus, in 1994, when Steve and I were engaged to be married in June of that year, I began to pray this prayer:

“Lord, there is only one wedding present I want.  I couldn’t care less about anything else.  There’s only one gift I’m desperate for.  Before I get married, I want to see Daddy come to Christ.  O Lord, please turn Daddy’s heart to You.”

I knew that in Daddy’s abject grief my approaching marriage actually felt to his heart like a kind of second loss…as he contemplated giving me away.

Yet I knew, too, that no matter how overcome with grief Daddy was, I certainly couldn’t be some kind of Christ-substitute for him.  Sure, I may be an encourager in my family, a nurturer, and so I’m accustomed to being leaned upon, or looked upon for a cheerful word.   I can deal with that.

But a substitute for Christ?  No.  Not gonna happen. I wouldn’t allow it, no matter how desperate my Dad’s state of mind and emotions were, I wouldn’t allow him to believe he could rely on me to be his answer to all his emotional needs —  only Christ is Christ, and Daddy was going to have to come to terms with it.

But true as this was… as his daughter, it just killed me to watched my beloved Dad wrestle against the only One Who could truly save him.

And so as the months ticked by, I kept on praying for his salvation…earnestly… desperately.

I began to take favorite old hymns I grew up with, and insert Daddy’s name in the hymn as I sang them, as a kind of prayer:

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“God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year…

“God is working His purpose out, and the time is drawing near…

“Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be…

“When [Dick Condit] shall be filled with the glory of God…as the waters cover the sea.”

I sang.  I prayed.  I wept.

And Steve joined me in the prayer too:  “Lord, save Dick before our wedding day!  This is our prayer!”

As the actual week of our wedding approached, the countdown intensified…and the already urgent prayer now became like a red flare before the throne of God:

“O God, O Lord God – Daddy’s LOST!  He NEEDS You!  Your Word says that the heart of the king is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, and You can turn it whichever direction You will.  Turn Daddy’s heart to YOU, O God!  O God, do it!  Do it NOW, Lord! I ask this as my wedding gift, Lord…the only one I care about.  Please dear Lord, please bring Daddy to You before I get married this Saturday!  I ask it in the Name of Jesus!”

Seven days before the wedding came and went…six days before the wedding came and went…five days…

”Oh God, oh GOD!  Save Daddy!

Then suddenly!

On Tuesday, June 14th, 1994 — four days before my wedding — I was out doing errands. Tying up loose ends before the Big Day…when suddenly I felt a nudge inside my heart.  A distinct nudge that was unmistakable.

And I heard in my heart:

Go home!  Go home now to your father’s house.  He’s ready.  Go right now.”

Immediately I dropped everything.  Left the mall, hopped in my car, and drove straight to my childhood home, just hoping and praying I was “hearing right.”  Hoping and praying this really and truly was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and not just my own wishful thinking I had fabricated inside my head and heart.

As I drove up Daddy’s driveway, he appeared, ambling slowly down the front slate walk to greet me, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his khaki pants.  He looked beaten down and completely weary.  I greeted Daddy as he came toward me.

Then I jumped out of my car, and cut right to the chase.

“Daddy,” I said, “I came here because I feel like the Lord told me to come over right now.  I’ve been asking you over and over if you would pray with me to receive Christ, but you were never ready.  But I’m going to ask you one more time. 

 “Are you ready to pray the very same prayer Mummy prayed with me last year, and to receive Christ into your heart?”

Daddy – this time — said, “Yes.”  He said YES!!!

 I nearly jumped for joy.  I shouted, and said, “You are ready?  Oh Daddy, I’m so excited!  I was out shopping, and the Lord told me to come over right now to pray with you, and I dropped everything to get here!”

We entered the house, and stepped out into the sun porch, sat down, and the Lord allowed me to lead Daddy in the prayer of salvation.  And then, because I wanted to make certain Daddy’s commitment was truly legitimate, I asked him point blank:

“Daddy, I’ve asked you twice before to pray with me, and you never would. What was different about this time?”

Daddy had tears in his eyes as he looked up from our prayer, and he responded simply, “Because I don’t have anywhere else to turn.”

Surrender!

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Daddy knew that in just four days his “baby girl” would be getting married, amplifying his sense of loss as he “gave me away” to Steve.  The Lord used this sense of loss to bring Daddy to his knees.

I will never forget the day my Dad finally humbled himself to receive Christ into his heart.

Tuesday evening,  June 14th 1994…just four days before my wedding.  My dad went from death — to eternal life.

The best wedding gift of all.

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A Pig Tale

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CONFESSION:

When I first got married, I was totally and completely and utterly 100% terminally PIG-HEADED.   Think I’m exaggerating?  Ha!  Think again.

<—- Here’s my Wedding Day Selfie.

Yup.  That’s me there, folks.  Posing for the camera — in all my swine glory — the very day Steve Judd said to me “I do”  when he should have said, “LORD I don’t know WHAT I was thinking!” and instantly AM-SCRAYED out of there!

(Am-Scrayed:  That’s Pig Latin for scrammed, for all you non-swine, English-only speaking folk out there.)

No, the camera doesn’t lie, darling, and neither can I:  The day I married I was a real case.  The mother of all Pig-Heads.  Summa Cum Laude, Valedictorian, # 1 Pig-Head.

(Nice lipstick though dontcha think?)

So where does this Pig Tale end, you ask?  It ends (most mercifully) in the O.R. – GOD’S OWN O.R./Operating Room – wherein one afternoon about a decade ago, He laid me down on His surgical table and in the space of one hour did a total HEAD TRANSPLANT on me!  Yes, a miracle HEAD TRANSPLANT!  And I’m here to testify of it, and give glory to God.

So have a seat, friend.  And listen up.  As this is one Pig Tale that could save your life…

Literally.

How The Pig Got Her Head Transplant

 

Once upon a time, on a blistering hot and sunny afternoon…Saturday, June 18, 1994, to be precise…Steve Judd said “I DO” to the Pig-Head.  (Moi.)

Poor dear man.

Never knew what he was getting into.  He actually thought I was beautiful when he saw me coming down that aisle toward him.  [Amazing what a good lipstick can do, isn’t it?]

Of course in short order, the lipstick came off, and the veil, and oh boy oh boy, was that a FUN first year of marriage!  [Just keeping it real here, folks.]

For the truth is, although I certainly did dearly love my Steve, for years I confess I didn’t really *listen* to him.  I mean, not like I should have listened to him — with that full-on respect Steve absolutely deserved as a man of God, not to mention my God-given, God-ordained, Christian husband.

You see, I’d been single for so long — not marrying till the ripe old age of 42. Consequently (not an excuse here, just stating the facts) once I finally did marry, I found myself resisting Steve’s new leadership role in my life.  Preferring instead to stick to the ole “just-me-and-Jesus” mode that had worked “just fine” for decades, thank you very much.

Of course, needless to say, that’s not how Christ-centered marriage works!

And thus, in due course, no surprise:  That faulty dynamic changed.  Big time.  Jesus saw to that, honey.

Oh yeah.

One day as I’m sitting there, writing along in my journal per usual, just chatting away with the Lord — suddenly, very suddenly, He dispensed a bit of  instruction for the Pig-Head. And I DO quote:

“When Steve speaks to you, don’t just shrug off what he says,

because he is a man after my own heart, so when he speaks,

he is speaking for Me.  So listen to him.  Don’t shrug it off.”

I listened.  Took note.  Recorded word for word exactly what the Spirit was saying —  then walked away and somehow promptly forgot every single word of it!  (Seriously.)

Horrible.  Just horrible.

Then a few days later, Steve said to me, “Did you ever call the doctor about that place on your leg?”

The Pig replied, “No.”  (Thinking to myself, I can’t be bothered with the hassle.)

For weeks I had noticed a scaly crusty place near my ankle that I couldn’t account for.  I had mentioned it to Steve, and he had said numerous times, “Go get it checked out.”  But I didn’t pay attention because to me it was just some dry crusty area, maybe eczema…. whatever.  But no big, right?  So I had less than no interest in calling up the doctor and going through the hassle of appointment-making, wasting my time only to have her hand me a tube of cream at the end and tell me to rub it on my leg for the next 10 days to moisturize my winter skin.  Right?

Oh yeah.  I already had it all figured out, didn’t I?  Already diagnosed the situation, genius that I am.  Diagnosis?   “Winter skin.”  No big.  Save yourself the time and hassle, Cinnie.  Blow it off.

Just call me Dr. Cinnie.

Then when I mentioned the spot yet again one day to Steve, wondering what it was, Steve responded again — this time with decidedly less patience, as he pushed back immediately in total frustration:

“Did you call the doctor?  I keep telling you to call the doctor!”  

Unbelievably, ONCE AGAIN reflex started to take over when I felt my shoulders begin to rise in a typical “eh, no big deal” brush-off of Steve’s concern — only to suddenly catch myself mid-shrug, as the words of my King just a few days earlier came flooding back to my soul with great power and conviction:

“Cinnie!  When Steve speaks to you,  

DON’T SHRUG IT OFF

Because he’s a man after my own heart so when he speaks to you

HE’S SPEAKING FOR ME!”

Woah!  At that moment, as the sudden memory of God’s convicting words burned hot in my heart, I don’t mind telling you I responded in great Godly fear whereby I repented instantly, jumped up from my seat, and called the skin doctor to make an appointment.

And thank God I did.

Yes, thank God for His mighty conviction — AND for my husband’s wise counsel. For nothing prepared me for what the doctor would say to me that day I finally got to her office in obedience to my husband.

Sitting in the examining room, after careful analysis of my leg with gloved hands under a black light and an eyepiece attached to her head, the doctor finally looked up, removed her gloves, and announced: “It’s a good thing you came in…”

Why?

Because, as it turns out, the “mysterious” scaly crusty place on my leg was nothing less than squamous cells.  And if left unchecked, the doctor said, “It could turn to cancer in as little as three months, and even become terminal.” 

WHHHAT?!

Blown away, and with trembling awe, I openly shared with the doctor what the Lord had said to me in private about my husband.  NOT to shrug off his words, or his counsel. Because Steve was a man after His own heart, so when he spoke he was actually and literally speaking for God Himself!

Hearing me, the doctor’s head shot up from the floor where she was kneeling beside me at this point, burning off the squamous cells.  At my words, she stopped.  Placed her hand on my arm. Looked directly into my eyes.  And with the most sober expression, said right into my face:

LISTEN TO YOUR HUSBAND!”

 

And oh honey, I do now….believe me…I DO!

And that, dear friends, is How the Pig Got Her Head Transplant.  And my selfie was forever transformed…

From This:

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To This:

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Sure, the lipstick remains the same.  😀 😀  But the head is sporting a new look!   As I have now forever swapped out my Pig Head for my Godly Wife Head….remaining all ears to my husband’s counsel at all times.  Cuz now I know for sure:  Listening to my husband isn’t just God’s command over my life – it can also save my life!  All glory to God!  Pig-Headed no more!

Psssst!  Hey…shhh!

Don’t tell Steve! But…

It’s a year later now…

I was just sitting in our living room on this freezing cold winter day, dearly enjoying having my feet propped up right next to our little space heater to get my tootsies warm.  Then Steve — ever Mr. Careful —  walked into the living room, saw me, and said,  “It’s probably not a good idea to have your slippers so close to the heater.  They could catch on fire.”

Oh brother, I thought.  Talk about being overly concerned. He’s always so paranoid. Like my slippers are really gonna catch on fire, yeah right.  

Just a few minutes later, I smelled something.  Then I saw something.  A little wiff of smoke coming up from my left slipper! OUCH! The slipper was lit up, and smoking!cartoon shocked face

I quickly threw off the slipper, put out the embers, fanned the smelly, smokey air about me, and removed the incriminating evidence to the garage for it to air out!

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Poor little slipper…may she rest in peace.

Oh Lord, forgive me.  I did it again!  When will I ever get it through my thick scull to just listen to the man?! Help me to do better!  Guess I have a little swine left in me yet!

Time to read the scriptures below and give myself a refresher course!

“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands.”  ~ I Peter 3:1a (NLT)

 

22 “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

 

25 “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[a] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.

 

31 “As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”[b] 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

                                                                    ~ Ephesians 5:22-33 (NLT)

How To Escape Disasters of the Heart

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Many years ago, with a broken heart, I said to the Lord:  “Lord. Why is it that I always seem to love people more than they love me?” 

Immediately the Lord replied:  “I know just how you feel.”

I was taken aback.  Of course, I thought to myself.  Golly, how sad. If anyone knows what it feels like to love and not have your love returned, Jesus does.  He “gets” it.

And He asked me:

Cinnie.  Do you think you can love without ANY hope of returned affection or devotion?”

“Gosh.  Probably not, Lord…I don’t know. What do You think?”

“I think you are a tender person who loves to give, but I see that your giving is still attached to hope.  False hope in many cases.”

“What does THAT mean, Lord?  False hope?”

“You love with the hope that your love, your affection will be returned in kind.  And that is truly a false hope, dear heart.”

“But Lord!  You loved with hope, too.  Your own Word says so, in John 3:16!  You loved the world so much that You gave Your only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him wouldn’t perish but have eternal life.  Right, Lord?  Right?” 

“Yes, Cinnie.  I always hope.  Because love always hopes.  But did you notice that all-important word in there?  I gave…that “whosoever” believed in Me would have eternal life. 

“WHOSOEVER,  Cinnie…

“…Meaning each man chooses.

“I loved.  I gave.  I hope, yes.  But ultimately….each soul chooses.  

“Hear Me in this, Cinnie:  It is certainly no sin, hoping to have your same love returned.  No sin at all It is natural.  And it is human.

“But it is not altogether wise.  That is all I am saying.  And I would have you become wise in your love.  No longer like a child, lacking understanding.  Be wise.  Mature.

For know this:

“When you love others with any expectation whatsoever, however small, that is when you entrust yourself to them.  And remember My Word:  

“‘But Jesus for His part entrusted Himself to no man.’ (John 2:24)  And why?  Because as the Word goes on to say, I knew very well what is in the heart of man, and had no need that any should tell Me.

“Cinnie.  This is the wisdom I desire to impart to you now.

“Learn from Me.  Change course. And from this day forward, determine to love only as I loved — without entrusting yourself to another, but only to Me, Your heavenly Father.  For in loving this way –  you will find freedom.  Freedom and escape…from needless disasters of the heart. 

Friend, that conversation with the Lord was pivotal in my life.  It changed me.  Forever.

You see, before He spoke this to me, I never even realized I was “entrusting” myself to others!  I mean good grief, I certainly wasn’t looking for any friend or even my husband to be my “savior,” so to speak, either spiritually, emotionally, or any other way.  I’d been in the Lord – and in the world – too long to make that mistake.  So that wasn’t a problem.

But because the obvious red flags weren’t present, I therefore made the mistaken leap into thinking I didn’t have any issues of misplaced expectations on others.

And that’s where the self-deception came in.

Because I found, upon further reflection, that I did “entrust myself to others” because I did indeed have — as Jesus nailed it — a kind of false hope in their unfailing love.

The kind of love only God can give.

Jesus knew it.  He saw it.  And in His kindness He awakened me to my own issue…to preserve me and protect me from future heartache.  And I praise Him for it.

What an awesome God I serve!

Now maybe all this sounds a little crazy to you.  Maybe you’ve been in the Lord a long time. You love the Lord.  You’re a mature Christian.  So maybe you’re thinking to yourself now, “No chance this is my issue. I don’t look to other human beings to be what only God can be: unfailing in their love.  I know better.”

Beloved, if this is what you’re thinking as you read my story, may I just ask you this:

Have you experienced disappointment — of any kind, at any level  — in any of your personal relationships in the last few years, or perhaps even the recent past?

If your answer is yes, then I would just humbly submit to you, before you dismiss this out of hand, that perhaps you too could benefit from prayerful reflection upon what the Lord has shown me to be THE identifying mark of “entrusting yourself to others.”

The mark?

Expectation.

For the truth is, we only get disappointed when our expectations aren’t met. Isn’t that so? In fact, I think it’s fair to say that disappointment — by very definition — is that which arises when one’s expectations are not met.

Therefore, it also follows, that where there ARE no “expectations” in the personal relationship realm, our hearts are no longer made unnecessarily vulnerable, prime targets for disappoint- ment.  Or worse:

broken-heart    Heartbreak.

I can only speak for myself, beloved.  But I can honestly tell you, ever since the Lord awakened me to this subtle, deadly trap of entrusting yourself to others by way of expectation, and ever since He showed me how to avoid this trap – simply by letting go of all expectation — my whole way of being in the world has changed.

I am truly a different person.  Still reaching out, yes.  Still loving others, oh definitely.  But with one major difference:

No more expectations.  No more false hope in another human being = entrusting myself to them.

And the result?

Today I can testify that the result has been exactly what the Lord promised me:

Absolute freedom from needless disasters of the heart.

Praise His Holy Name!

Talk to me…

Is this something you can relate to?  Have you ever suffered a disaster of the heart?  Sometimes our heartbreak is caused by another’s sin, which we obviously have no control over.  But other times…do you think you’ve ever been hurt in a relationship because you “entrusted yourself” to another?  Share your comments below.  

“But Jesus on His part did not did entrust Himself to them, because of His knowing all men, and because He had no need that anyone should testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” ~ John 2:24-25 Berean Literal Bible

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23 New Living Translation

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever…” ~ Psalm 100:5

“…be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  ~ Hebrews 13:5b-c New King James Version

Awake, O Sleeper! Awake!

doomsday-clock-announcement-death-destruction-553614Recently my husband Steve and I were talking with a sleeper. Do you know what a sleeper is? A sleeper is someone who has pushed the snooze button so many times in life, they’ve lost touch with the world we live in. Of course when I say “the world we live in,” I mean the real world we live in…today. Which is no longer the world of 1950s America, but a different age altogether, as clearly evidenced by events continually unfolding before our eyes.

However, as Steve and I both quickly observed, the sleeper we spoke with didn’t want to acknowledge the realities of today.  Instead, the individual became visibly irritated and even hostile when their “sleep” was interrupted by our frank conversation.Hear-No-Evil-Speak-No-Evil-See-No-Evil-triptych-12x36-oc-2200_jpg (3)

I cringed — as I always do when I encounter a slumbering soul who refuses to wake up to the hour we live in, choosing instead to live in denial. I understand these are hard times. Even frightening at times. I get all of that.

But I still cringe in horror in the presence of denialists, as I can never escape the echo in my heart of one haunting scripture:

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”     Proverbs 27:12 New Living Translation

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God’s Word is clear.

Living willfully blind, clueless, and unprepared – aka living in denial — is a strategy for destruction. Indeed, to be blunt, God calls it the strategy of fools.

And I don’t want to be a fool. The cost is too great.

What is the cost exactly?

Just read The Parable of the 10 Virgins. Talk about spelling it out.

To my heart, no other parable Jesus taught speaks more powerfully — or more horrifically – as to the stark contrast in fates awaiting those who live ready vs. those who refuse to.

Consider this alarming warning from the Lord Himself:

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Matthew 25 Modern English Version

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took jars of oil with their lamps. While the bridegroom delayed, they all rested and slept.

“But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!’virgins

“Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.’

“The wise answered, ‘No, lest there not be enough for us and you. Go rather to those who sell it, and buy some for yourselves.’

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10 “But while they went to buy some, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. AND THE DOOR WAS SHUT.

11 “Afterward, the other [foolish] virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us.’

12 “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’

Friends, this is the parable that shakes me to the core every time I read it. Though no one really wants to believe it, including myself, the words couldn’t be any more plain. Jesus warned us.

And Jesus doesn’t lie.

One day, just like the parable warns, there are those who fancy themselves the Bride of Christ who will instead be completely shocked when they are shut out of the very wedding feast in heaven they presumed to be part of.

And why will they be shut out?

Because they disqualified themselves from being Jesus’ Bride.

REPEAT: They disqualified themselves.

Now how exactly will that happen?

Let’s break it down:

Oil in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit.

oil_lamp

Thus, the picture of the wise ones being prepared by gathering extra oil would be a clear symbol for those who sincerely love Jesus with all their hearts, and stay filled with His Spirit by virtue of their ongoing, intimate love relationship with Him. Their lamps are always full of oil. And thus, even in the darkest hour of human history, just before Christ returns, the wise ones will shine brightly…because they are filled with the Light of the World Himself — Jesus. And that keeps their lamps burning.

Wise ones indeed…who live ready. So in love with the Bridegroom are they.

And then we have the fools.

Five fools who, when the hour comes for their Bridegroom’s return, will discover they have zero oil.  And zero light. In fact, their lamps will be completely out! For one simple reason:

Sheer lack of passion for God. Period.  Nothing else.

For clearly…so indifferent have they been toward their Bridegroom, that in the dark days leading up to their wedding day to King Jesus they don’t even bother to keep their lamps burning by spending time with Jesus, loving Jesus, seeking Jesus, delighting in His Presence, and thereby continually refilling themselves with the “oil” of His Presence in their hearts. Just couldn’t be bothered.

Now does that sound to you like someone in love?  No, I don’t think so.

And for their indifference, these foolish ones will one day pay dearly, as each and every last one of them will be denied entrance to the wedding banquet with King Jesus.

Imagine it:  Shut out by the Bridegroom Himself! 

And if you wonder who these tragic souls might be…these foolish ones…I submit, beloved, that the Lord has already identified them for us in His Word:

“Behold, the people praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Isaiah 29:13a

Now who does that sound like to you?

To me, it appears pretty obvious. I believe the scripture is pointing directly at that vast company of souls who, though week after week may be observed habitually attending some local church, in reality they are merely “playing church.” Nothing more.

Oh they know the Gospel, these “foolish” ones.  Sure do.  They know exactly Who Jesus is and what He did for them. They’ve heard the gospel many times, even from the time of  their youth many of them. That’s why they’re represented in the parable as part of the company of virgins waiting for the Bridegroom to return. Because they know the Truth of Jesus. And they even know He’s coming back.  No question.

But the difference is this:

In reality they are only what might be called “social” Christians. Because for all their outward, public display of allegiance to Jesus, in the private sanctuary of their hearts – which God alone sees and knows well – there is no real love for Jesus residing there at all.  None whatsoever.  Just an ingrained …passionlesshabit of worship.

“Behold, the people praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Isaiah 29:13ath

Too late one day, just as the parable warns, these foolish ones will surely discover – to their utter shock – that their own hearts have disqualified them from being Jesus’ True Bride.

For Jesus won’t have them!

And what sane person would ever marry someone whose heart toward them was blatantly indifferent…blatantly lukewarm?  I know I wouldn’t.

And Jesus surely won’t.

“I would that you were hot or cold,” Jesus said.

“But because you are neither hot nor cold, but LUKEWARM,

 I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!”

 Revelation 3:15b -16

Startling words of warning from the Bridegroom.  Yet know this:

Jesus only warns out of love. Pure love. Never ever out of cruelty. He is full of compassion and mercy, and doesn’t WANT to have to say to you or me:

“Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”

Beloved, it is time now for each of us to take stock, examine our hearts, and seek to discern the true temperature of our hearts toward our Bridegroom.

Am I hot? Cold? Or merely lukewarm toward Jesus, just going through the motions?

Can it be said of me:  “My lips praise Him but my heart is far from Him”?

Jesus knows the answer to all these questions. And He’ll show anyone who asks the true condition of his or her heart.

So let us ask. Each and every one of us. Ask today. And then join me, won’t you, in a heartfelt prayer:

O Father! Help me never, never, never to be lukewarm toward Jesus!  Help me to live ready, to be wise, and not a fool. Help me to wake up to the late hour we’re living in, and keep my lamp burning… watching for You continually, pressing in to You daily, my beloved Bridegroom…until that great and glorious Day when at last I see You face to face.  Amen!

God bless you saints. I love each and every one of you. Live ready! He’s coming!

rapture-trumpet

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” 

Matthew 25:13  Modern English Version