Lover of my Soul

Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.
-Song of Solomon 8:6-7
I was once dead, lost in this world, down a path God did not desire for me…

A path that led to the pits of Hell, swift and cunning- unnoticed to my blinded eyes. Filled with delights and pleasures, the acceptance of this world – yet enemy to He. (James 4:4)

Yet, just as a lover guides and gently, graciously takes hold of the hand of the one whom he is bound to in love, so God did.

He purposed a blindfold for my eyes – and covered them so that I couldn’t see the path or direction I headed- trust was necessary. He purposed it in affectionate, all-knowing love. He then stretched out His hand to guide me.

Although I was unwilling and hid my face from Him– He pursued me. He whispered in my ear His great love for me, His enduring promises to those whom are His children.

As He beckoned me I began to trust and take hold of His hand (Isaiah 41:10), and trust in each step that He led me (Hosea 11:3-4).

His love was faithful and true. As I pursued my faithful Lover, He removed the blindfold from my eyes. He touched my eyes and the scales, chains and lies that kept me bound (Acts 9:15-18) fell to the ground. I then was able to behold my Lover, His face most precious and brilliant- delightful to my innermost being!
His hands trusting and perfect- able to hold the burdens, pain, and beauty of the world. His eyes revealed the power of thousands times thousands of mighty chariots and troops (Isaiah 68:17), and a passion so strong for justice and His beloved, chosen ones. (Isaiah 68:18)

He led me, and behold, my feet walked along the path that He desired for me. The path that walked alongside my Lover, that allowed me to rest and marvel at His beauty and goodness.
As I walked, His presence and love directed my steps, my constant gaze upon Him kept me on the path of my Lover.

How glorious, how good-
how awesome is He!

The Lover of my soul,
the Lord of all!!
God of the brokenhearted, and orphans of this world.
Lover of souls— God of all!
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

-Zephaniah 3:17

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Expectations

Oftentimes when we pray a prayer to the Lord we come with expectations.
Expectations that the Lord will fulfill our desires and needs; yet, expectations aren’t necessarily in our best interest…

Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have expectations that God can do ALL things, (because if you haven’t already noticed- He truly CAN), or that God truly loves us and wants the best for us! Yet coming to the Lord with expectations and belief in His great ability to answer your prayers- are two separate things.

As I was laying in bed the other night, I asked God for His protecting hand on parts of my life that I’ve struggled to find peace with and then I gave thanks for His greatness in my life.
Yet I realized in that moment that expecting God to fulfill my prayers was completely different than resting in His ableness. His true ability to make right any part of my life… His ability to raise the dead.. or part the seas…. because let’s face it- He’s done it all before!

You see, when we come before the Lord with expectations- we lack trust. Trust that the Lord is doing all things with a greater, sovereign plan! That He is the Molder and we are the clay.

And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

The Lord hears those who come before Him with honest hearts and we must also remember who He is, and what He has in store for those who believe

Trust in a God who is sovereign and able! Omnipotent- and Holy!
He has a plan, and it is for good!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

Words of Wisdom.

As I was reading Proverbs the other day I couldn’t help but thank God for allowing us to know such life-giving, almighty wisdom! That He didn’t hide such incredible wisdom from us, but rather allowed us to access it readily, at any time. In reflecting on how generous and loving God is to share His wisdom, I felt encouraged to share the wisdom I have found, of which I treasure greater than anything else!

(Disclaimer: The wisdom I have gained is not my own but what God has graciously allowed me to learn through reading His Word, seasons of testing, and blessed guidance- to Him be ALL the glory!!!:))

If you try to measure up to the demands/standards placed upon you by others, or yourself- emptiness will soon follow. For, we are called to live in the image of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, selflessly, for the good of others, and God’s Kingdom— this is where true life is found!

Money, earthly “treasures”, and lavish gifts are all fifthly rags compared to the riches we will find in Heaven. That whatever items and belongings we own now will be left here on earth, holding no more value than the dust…
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” -Genesis 3:19

Regardless of what we have been led to believe, love isn’t just a feeling- but a choice, through good, bad and painful seasons.

Hardship is inevitable- yet NOT a sign of weakness or shame. Rather, a reminder that we are conquerors through, and only through, leaning upon our Almighty God, and Father!
Trials are often a sign that God has incredible plans waiting for you, and through testing He is preparing you for a greater battle!
“Blessed is she who has believed that the LORD will fulfill His promises to her. “-Luke 1:45

Thankfulness. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for; a sure-fire medicine for a bitter, discontent, ungrateful heart!

Pride is the greatest of evils. I’d rather be a fool, than a haughty and proud person. (Although I’d really hope to be neither…)

Prayer is an honor, not an obligation. Prayer is more powerful than even the greatest human strength, or knowledge, (probably because the Holy Spirit is within us!) It is a GREAT gift that God allows, in doing so, our words would reach the Heavens, to the Creator of the Universe!!
Fact: People lived thousands of years without the ability, and great honor of being able to come to the Lord in prayer…They relied upon a high priest, or anointed one- like Moses, who went up the mountain to talk to God for them! We are blessed by the gift of the Holy Spirit!

The “cheat sheet” and guide to life is in our very own reach- the Bible. Wisdom that people have spent a lifetime trying to uncover is readily available to us in the Bible… just waiting for us to seek out its wisdom…

Church attendance, much like reading the Bible, is a gift! I assure you, if you skip church, the “church police” aren’t going to bust down your door… Yet God sees ALL things, He desires, if nothing else, just 1 hour of the 168 hours He graciously gives us each week. It is an honor and joy to get to praise Him for what He has done for us, to come into His presence, and gain wisdom that triumphs a lifetime!

You become who you surround yourself with. Choose God-fearing, encouraging, life-giving company- not foolish, prideful people. Our perspectives, choices and hearts are contagious, choose wisely!
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” -Proverbs 4:23

Forgive others quickly, no matter what they have done, for your Father in Heaven has forgiven you infinitely more than that person has ever done to you! It’s the very least we can do, as we live in God’s great grace and mercy…
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” -Colossians 3:13

Judgment hurts you, rather than helps you. I’m pretty sure, (although I can’t say for certain for God,) when we are judging others, He is saying, “Really? Let me go get all the books filled with all the sins I have forgiven you of…”
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you…” -Matthew 7:1-2

Being a Christian literally means “follower of Christ”- so let’s live like it! It is a great and powerful honor to carry His nand! Thus continually seeking to know who Christ is, is a great first step! (The Gospels are a great source: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible.)

Also, in being a Christian, there are many different kinds of Christians; Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, etc. Yet, when we get to Heaven to be with the LORD, I highly doubt He is going to split us up into groups… I can hear it now, “Lutherans go over there, Catholics stay over here… No, no, don’t go towards the Methodists…”
So, let’s not get caught up by the labels we carry or differences among churches– the most important thing is that we fear, and seek the Lord, daily, and love God and others as Christ did.

As I once heard, “Children are watching you every day to learn how to be a human…”
Thus, divorce, arguing, bitterness, poor habits, worry, and lack of seeking God, are all learned habits you are passing along to future generations. Be an example of strength, diligence, love, and a God-fearing child of God!!

For those who know death, life here on earth is short. Don’t spend it regretting what you could have done- or in bitterness. Live with eternity in mind!!! Do it today, yes— today!

Tithing isn’t a burden, it is an honor! God isn’t asking you to sacrifice 10%, He is allowing you to keep 90%! HE is the source of all good things, and has blessed with an able body, work, and a roof over our head!
“But whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God, the Creator of all light, and he shines forever without change or shadow.” -James 1:17

Use the gifts God has given you; we are given gifts for a reason!! (That means action- moving, applying, trusting.) If you were given a gift: an I-phone, new pair of Nike shoes, book, laptop, CD, or car… you wouldn’t just say, “That’s nice”, and then leave it in it’s packaging, or try and exchange it—you use it!

Whatever you are facing in life right now, trust and lean upon Him! He created you, He created the Universe, He conquered death… I’m pretty sure He can handle it…

Love is not limited, we aren’t going to run out—give and share freely! I assure you, it is much more pleasant to love than hate.

Lastly, God loves you— He really, really does.
You are just enough. And simply blessed.

First Love.

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There was a young girl, both of average height and beauty. She was mediocre to most, and often overlooked while in the midst of a crowd. She had wisdom in her life, but was limited.

At the age of four, the young girl met a young boy of the same age. When he saw her his heart longed for her, he knew in his heart that he desired to marry her one day. They would play with one another daily, enjoying each other’s company with joy and laughter.

At the age of six, the young girl moved to a city far away. The days following her move she grew sad, yet new people, new schools, and new excitements, brought her happiness once again.
She healed quickly from the friendship and love she shared with the young boy.
As many years passed, the boy and girl grew into woman and man… And the boy, now a man, never stopped longing for the beautiful girl he loved. He missed the precious laughter and joy they shared together; he knew in his heart that he longed for that girl…
So he sought long and hard for her- and found her.

As he approached her, his heart raced with deep passion and joy- tears filled his eyes as he saw the woman. Yet as she saw him, she kept walking. She hadn’t recognized the man whom she had once loved. Persistent, the man stopped her- he introduced himself, reminding her of all the the laughter and joyful moments they once shared together….
Yet she still didn’t remember him. She kept walking, without looking back.

The man didn’t give up, he knew the girl he loved. He knew the joy and love they shared, the future he had hoped for them… So he pursued her, time and time again.

After many years of relentlessly pursuing her, she grew to love the man that she once knew as a young girl. They again shared beautiful memories together, filled with laughter and joy.

Yet, after a few years the woman was overcome with sickness. She challenged the man who loved her daily through the pain and agony she felt. Yet he loved her. He cared for her day after day, carrying her from room to room. He fed her faithfully every day, bathing her, clothing her, and carrying for her wounds. He loved her just as he did the first day he saw her.

He faithfully loved her with such great passion, that after a couple months he got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage. He promised her a beautiful life, that he would care for her every day that they shared together. That he would provide for her, cherish her, feed her, bathe her- but most importantly love her, in each day. No matter what she had to offer, no matter what she could provide for him.
And she said yes.
As months passed the wedding day grew near. The man faithfully, and with great love, cared for the woman. He got her the most pure, and beautiful, wedding gown he could find- and of course the ring! His love for her never faded.

The wedding day came, and the man woke up early that morning to prepare the woman for their special day. He picked her up from the bed, and bathed her. He combed her hair, and covered her ears with beautiful pearls. He dressed her in the beautiful gown that he had purchased her- she was beautiful to him!
As the hours passed, the time came for the woman to open the doors and find the man that had faithfully loved her. The man who sought her, found her, pursued her, loved her, and cherished her. She would come to the man who faithfully, each day, cared for her and bandaged her wounds. And, he would spend a lifetime providing for her, as he promised. He loved her.
Yet, as the time came…

the woman didn’t show.
She had left the faithful man for someone who had given her attention a few months back.

The man was left standing at the altar, waiting for her…. At word that she had left him, his heart ached with sadness and grief. Tears filled his eyes, as he loved her since the first day he knew her… He cared for her, faithfully, and expected nothing in return. He promised to care for her every need, with no expectations, or demands.
This story is about us, and God.

We are the young girl, or boy (as appropriate)- the one who chooses “another”, and the man is God, our faithful and loving Father!

No matter how much He cares for us, clothes us with strength; washes us with forgiveness; feed us with His word; pursues us; seeks us, and searches for us…. We so easily choose our own glory, worldly temptations… over an almighty, perfect, faithful and loving God.

God is the man left standing at the altar, filled with grief and sadness. Yet He still loves us- faithfully. He pursues us in our sinfulness, no matter how many times we forget him. No matter how many times we leave him “standing at the altar.”

I rejoice in God’s faithfulness. In His love. The beauty and passion He has for me- despite my struggle to truly fathom the magnitude of His great love, of how much he cherishes each of us.

Please remember the love of our Father. Remember His faithfulness. The way He promises an eternity together- providing for our every need. He lovingly waits for you with open arms. Ready to love you unconditionally. To cherish you.

Seek Him with all your heart, and do not forget your First Love.

The Sun.

I like to think of God like the sunshine. It warms the earth- bringing warmth and comfort, a new day- hope! It never ceases to shine, and even though the clouds may hide its rays, they can not take away its ability to shine! The sun is shinning, even when you can’t see it.

You can rest in the hope that the clouds will always pass, as He is brighter, stronger- a faithful Father! Think of the seeds of the Earth, for example, the sunflower seed! It grows into a beautiful flower, of which produces countless fruitful seeds. No matter how much water it is given or fertile, rich soil it is planted in…it can not grow without the Sun’s rays. It depends upon the Sun for life. It can not grow and be fruitful, without the mighty Sun! image image God is He, our Sun, and source of true life! He is faithful, and always there. Even if you can’t see, or feel Him with you- I promise you- He is there! He is waiting, eager to fill you with warmth and comfort, to give you a hope that never fails! HE is good, bigger… Faithful!!

He is just enough. And we are simply blessed!

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in HIm is no darkness at all.” -1 John 1:5

The beauty of tomorrow.

Somedays you must simply rest in the grace of forgiveness and grace. Rejoicing in the beauty of a new day that awaits you tomorrow. He delights in you. You are enough.

You are loved!

You are just enough, and simply blessed.

His faithful promise.

Have you ever felt a pit of sadness in winter seasons; as all once flourishing, and beautiful flowers and trees lay bare and withered. Death has seemingly choked what life once existed.

But, be still. Take heart, and rejoice in the hope of the LORD!
For in His name and great plans for His children He has created seasons to strengthen us and remind us of His faithful promise in great love for us.
For just as the winter and fall seasons come, the spring and summer seasons faithful bare fruit on the once dead and withered walks of life.

Be still, and take heart. For those who love and seek Him He has faithfully promised goodness, and life!

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Copyright © 2011 Pictures of Winter.net All rights reserved.

Two, INCREDIBLE, Truths.

In my life I have come to know two very evident truths. One, I have lived far from a perfect, or “easy” life, and two, I, have been far from perfect, or spotless. Even the worst of sinners.

In my life I have faced all kinds of abuse. I have combated hatred, and lies in my life that have sought to tear down my strength through every foothold that it could possibly find. Harsh words that could cut at every part of myself that I held sacred and close to my heart. To manipulation, that took my sincerity, compassion and kindness, and used it to wither me to bones; to take away what I had in me… for their own, self-righteous, gain. The abuser was often within, and also outwardly in many forms. The abuse came at me one after the other, often when, and from whom I least expected it.

I’ve faced illness that corrupted my body and mind. Allowing it to once take from me my health, and happiness. It has stolen so many memories that could have been, as well as relationships that could have been so much more…

Yet, I have also been far from perfect. I have been the worst of sinners.

I have taken one of the most precious gifts… of an earthly life, and abused it so often. I have sought to throw away such a precious and full of mercy gift, to take my own life, many times, yet through HIS great grace He hs rescued me. He has fought for me!

I have hurt others with the ugliest, and most selfish, self—consumed sins. Sins that hurt so many of God’s precious children.

I have kept, and told lies for many years.

I have not listened and ignored the voice of the One who created me, doubting Him. Knowing full well that HE is perfect, and I am so very unworthy. I have even called His creation, the very being He gave me, “ugly”, “worthless”, and “rejected”. As if telling an artist that their very own masterpiece, of which they created from within their own being with such joy and beauty, is worth nothing.

Yet, of these two undeniable truths, I have come to know two even greater… and more incredible truths

The Devil most know God has some pretty incredible, life-giving plans for me, and the LORD’s kingdom… that he feels the need to test me so unceasingly.

And, two, God must love me so incredibly, unfathomably much… that He has shown me such unceasing, unconditional grace!

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:12-14

These two truths are far greater! They hold hope, and truth that doesn’t fail; that overcomes and overshadows all the others parts of my life that have held me back… For in knowing God’s love for me, His grace, and plans for me, in great hope and faith… nothing can hold me down!
I do not fear, for God’s strength and Spirit are in me, through the living God! He has carried me this far, I will not be overcome!!!

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Do not cease, do not lose heart. Your LORD, our God, is a gracious, and merciful Father. In His great love.. He pardons many sins, and is with you, always. Even in trying times,

He does not fail.

He gives just enough, and we are simply blessed.

Now I get to love You in return…

Nothing is Holding Me Back From You

Thank You for the cross that You have carried
Thank You for Your blood that was shed
You took the weight of sin upon Your shoulders
And Sacrificed Your life so I could live

Now nothing is holding me back from You
Redeemer of my soul
Now nothing can hold me back from You
Your Love will never let me go

Thank You for Your death and resurrection
Thank You for the power of Your blood
I am overwhelmed by Your affection
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love

Now nothing is holding me back from You
Redeemer of my soul
Now nothing can hold me back from You
Your Love will never let me go

Thank You that we’re living in Your Kingdom
Jesus You’re the King upon the throne
Thank You for the way You always love me
Now I get to love You in return
Now I get to love You in return

Now nothing is holding me back from You
Redeemer of my soul
Now nothing can hold me back from You
Your Love will never let me go

Jesus, You make all things new…

©Bryan and Katie Torwalt 2011