Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Power of Praying 'Arise'

(this post was originally written on 11/13/12)

Today I am reminded, 

"Each one should be careful how he builds."
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
I used to pray "Lord, open a door for this ministry, Lord, open a door for that message."  Then, I prayed, "Lord, Arise, open a door for Yourself, and come in."  He has come, He has arisen.  He is passing through this church.  I see stubble in me.  I have feared men, made them weighty in my heart and mind.  This is a sin.

The word "splendor" also means, "weighty."  God should be the weighty one in my heart, the one of splendor, the one I alone fear.

I see God who is fearsome.  Ezek. 21:16-17
Swords at the ready!
Thrust right!
Set your blade!
Thrust left--
Wherever your edge is ordered!
I also will beat My fists together,
And I will cause My fury to rest;
I, the LORD, have spoken.
Do I dare believe He will spare me just because I have the gift of eternal life?  No, God is no respecter of persons.  He did not spare His own people from fire.  Isaiah 27:10-11,
Yet the fortified city will be desolate,
The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness;
There the calf will feed, and there it will lie down
And consume its branches.
When its boughs are withered, they
will be broken off;
The women come and set them on fire.
For it is a people of no understanding;
Therefore He who made them will 
not have mercy on them,
And He who formed them will 
show them no mercy.
These branches are the same mentioned to the church in John 15:5-6,
I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

This is a verse for Christians, and everyone else who might have appropriated the righteousness of God's living water into their lifestyle.  The word "branch" means ruler, son, king (Matthew 24:32, Zecharaiah 6:12, Isaiah 60:21, Psalm 80:15).  That is why I will never forget worship dancing on Palm Sunday, when King Jesus enters Jerusalem and the people ushered Him by waving palm branches.  Palm branches are a symbol of a victorious son or a ruler.  What sort of rulers am I replicating into this world I will leave behind - righteous sons, or wicked sons?  This is what it means to be a branch for Jesus that bears fruit in the world.  To the church Jesus warns in Romans 11:20-22,
Do not be haughty, but fear.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.  Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Not our whole life will be cut off from the presence of God.  When it says, "you" will be cut off, I believe it means, "in regard to any work of your life under consideration at the moment."  I believe for our delight God gives saints the command to lift holy hands.  Take a look at your hand, your palm.  I believe every time a Christian raises his hands he thanks God and agrees with the Spirit for a righteous branch, a righteous people, coming out of their life.

It is only because a Christian's heart continues to pursue Him that a Christian is favored.  God has mercy on sins done in ignorance.  He has mercy on those who want to know Him.  God gives grace to all who ask, however some choose not to seek it.  When the light comes, and it is coming now, the wicked and the righteous are freshly discerned.  Isaiah 25:10-11,

With my soul I have desired You in the night
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
LORD, when your hand is lifted up, they will not see.

I want to see Jesus as He arises for His people, to bring them every depth of salvation.  I can't make Him give the depths of salvation to me.  I can't earn His mercy with anything I do for Him.  He gives it freely.  Psalm 40:13,
Be pleased to save me, LORD...
I love how God's Word gives me boldness to say what is both true and significant before the dawn has made everything apparent.  Those who fear the LORD have assurance.  Malachi 3:16-4:2,
Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.
“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.
For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
That will leave them neither root nor branch.
But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
The jewels, those precious things I can build upon the foundation of my salvation - what are the jewels according to scripture?  In Malachi above, Jesus calls people His jewels.  What are jewels for NT saints?  The same: they are people.  This prophecy in Isaiah below was fulfilled by the woman at the well in John 4.  Isaiah 49:18, 22-23,
Lift up your eyes, look around and see;
All these gather together and come to you.
As I live,” says the Lord, “
You shall surely clothe yourselves with them all as an ornament,
And bind them on you as a bride does.
Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms, 
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.
The power of praying "arise" is that He makes me get out of the way.  He stands out alone as pure.  Being judged as sinning feels like fire, now.  It is unpleasant to discover that my choices are stubble to Him.  It is much more wonderful afterward to see His Kingdom developing in me!  I'm thankful that He saves me because He is pleased to do so.  And I pray that through repentance, God would help me stay in step with Him as He passes through.

Thank you Jesus, for your life on earth, your death and resurrection, which makes this hope for jewels my greatest opportunity.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Biology Class Growing Up

Monday evening I walked into a class I wasn't even signed up for because I got an email about it.  It's a perspectives course on Christian work throughout the world.  The topic was missionaries to unsent peoples.  As I was walking into my church, into my Sunday school room where we've been lately pouring over the issue of creation vs. evolution, guess who was standing there to register me in the class?

I shook my head in disbelief as I approached.  It was obvious God was up to something.  I smiled at him and said, "You're Mr. Shrout, right?"  He was indeed.

He is my science teacher from when I was in 7th and 8th grades.  Amazing.  This is just another step in almost a year's worth of development that God is making for me in my life when it comes to the issue of creationism vs. evolution.

In fact I've been trying to write this blog post since June 12th.

It all started when I was in my friend April's church last spring, visiting one of their services.  An older gentleman walked up to me afterward and said to me with a smile, "I know who you are.  You're... Michele, right?"

"Yes," I said.  I looked at him for awhile.  I recognized his face and I smiled big.  "I know you too...!" I trailed off.  I couldn't figure out how I knew him.  He filled in the blanks.

He said, "You were in my science class."

"Yes, I remember.  You're... Mr. ..," and I almost said it as he did, "Mr. Haight."  I smiled bigger and said, "Oh my gosh!  I remember being in your class!  Biology at North Salem High."

He said, "I remember you were really good at science, seemed to know a lot of the answers, that's what I recall about you."  I smiled and I tried to shuck his compliment away but he continued.  "I remember one day I was upset with the whole class because of how badly they did on a test.  You raised your hand and said, 'It's our fault for how we did.'  And that made me feel like you were defending me, it was nice of you."

I thought about that.  Coming to think of it later, I can remember that.  What I remember more is how on one time I took advantage of his trust.  There was a kid who was doing something naughty, and I advocated for him.  Looking back, the kid didn't deserve my advocacy.  Mr. Haight looked me in the eye about it and I felt it.  That's my memory.

I remember something else.  The funny kid in class was eating gummy bears.  When Mr. Haight turned his back to the class to write on the board, this guy would take a juicy bear out of his mouth and throw it full-force toward the wall or the ceiling.  It would stick.  Mr. Haight turned around and couldn't tell why people were laughing.  Ohh, the naughty things kids do!  But Mr. Haight was a great teacher.  He cared about the kids.  That's why I remember him so fondly.
Me in 5th grade

I told Mr. Haight as he was before me now, "I remember in class that sophomore year you had a creation vs. evolution debate for the students by the students.  I was on the evolution side.  I remember it was so odd to me that people used the Bible at all, or would argue things like that.  I thought everyone should or did believe in evolution.  That was the beginning of my awareness that there could be something else.  It was a big deal to me."

He didn't respond too much to that.  He moved on to ask me about my kids who I had brought with me.  He's been a Christian all this time, and a wonderful one at that.  How fascinating!  No wonder he wanted to have that debate in the classroom!

Fast forward to May.

My daughter Grace goes to an orientation for entering Middle School - Claggett.  I see this teacher at the school, and I think he looks familiar but it doesn't click in my thinking.  Later they announce "Life Science class is taught by Mr. Shrout."  What!  That was my science teacher when I was in Middle School (Whiteaker).  Then I realized who I had seen in the hall.

I find out over the summer that he is retiring that year.  So my daughter will not have the opportunity to have him for Life Science like I did growing up.

I wondered if he had recognized me.  I had seen him coming out of the school once or twice since May.  So this thought of actually getting to talk to him too has been building in my mind since last year.

One of my science teachers was a Christian, how neat!  But what if my other science teacher was not?  Mr. Shrout was my most favorite teacher of all.  He was my teacher when I kind of discovered that I loved science, and wanted to do stuff in science for the rest of my life.  That's the way I completely felt back then.

If I met him, what would I say?  All these months, I wondered.  I tried to explore my heart.  I could hear some normal questions he might politely ask.

"Did you end up doing something in paleontology?"

"Did you become an anthropologist like you had been thinking about?"

"Are you doing something in science at all?"

My answers:


"I stay at home with my kids."

"I'm trying to build momentum for something called 'missional communities.'"

"I'm a Christian, now.  So, ..?"

And all I could imagine someone saying in reply to that, is, "Oh."  And that's where I've never been able to figure out how the rest of my story, goes?  What would I say, about my love for science?  I feel like, I still love science.  I still know everything I once did.  It just doesn't mean as much to me.  Does that mean anything at all, to someone who teaches science for a living, who invests himself in students so they might become something someday?  I can't tell you how I solve the question of what hominid fossils are all about.  I don't know the answer between what the Bible says and what the fossil record shows.  I don't have enough science to make the Bible a scientific textbook.  I'm stuck saying mostly, "I don't know."

Do you see now why I couldn't finish this blog post?

(I even told my arch-nemesis in middle school that I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up!)

Because of Monday evening, I realize I don't have to finish this blog post.  The story ends a little differently.   My other science teacher, is also a Christian!  Hm.

All of this, was built into this moment, walking into my church and seeing my science teacher standing there.  I don't have to try and explain why I'm a Christian, thank God for that!  He would know!

I said to him, "I was one of your students."  (He probably hears that a lot.)

"Oh, what year?"

I said, "About '92, '91..."

"Hmm," he said.

"I remember one of your jokes.  'Why didn't the moss hang out with the lichen?  Because he heard he wasn't a "fungi [pronounced 'fun guy'],'" I repeated to him.  He acknowledged.

"Remember, I did special reports on science over the summer because my dad made me study college level Biology?  I gave you a paper at the beginning of the year?  You asked me to be teacher's aide the following semester?  You had me help pass out papers?  One time you asked me to transfer dead frogs for dissection from one bucket to another bucket in the back storage room.  And I cried and said I couldn't do it?"

He listened and said, "I'm sorry, I don't remember."

I looked at the floor, and tried again.  "Remember I wrote down all your jokes you told in class on my book cover?"

His eyes lit up and he said, "Oh, that's YOU?" and took a step back.

"Yes, that's me," I said smiling.  "Remember at the end of the year you asked me if you could photocopy my book covers so you could keep all your jokes?"

He replied, "Yes, my son was just wondering where those were.  They put on a retirement party for me and he wanted those out as part of a display.  I'll have to text him in a little bit and let him know that I met you."

That was wonderful.  I was pretty sure my testimony of becoming a Christian would matter because he would remember the textbook covers.  But I still don't know what my testimony is, about science.

I remember that I was always raising my hand in class.  I remember the other kids eventually got annoyed.  They started to say, "Okay Michele just put your hand down" and I would laugh.  Kids thought I was teacher's pet.  I remember that Mr. Shrout was hilarious.  He was so funny.  He is humble about how funny he is.  Most of his jokes were puns, but I just remember the entire class breaking out into laughter out of nowhere because of him.  All the time.  I remember dissecting frogs and worms.  I remember his green bicycle that he stored in class.  Even back then it had a reputation: it was dubbed "the green machine."  I had so much fun in that class in 7th grade.

Over the summer my dad used to make me choose a college-level textbook and read it and write reports.  So I picked 200-level Biology and studied it.  When I got to the end of the summer I had written some papers on things like the evolution of man and chemistry of ATP converted to energy in the bloodstream.  I could draw the tree of human evolution and used it for speech class and for random papers in English all through middle school. I knew all about evolution.

In the last few years, I've tried to abandon what I know altogether.  Most of the books I read in the last few years about creationism only talk about the hoaxes, they don't really say anything about the thousands of fossils of hominids that are out there to be considered.  I guess I'm stuck between two worlds.

I didn't expect to discover that my science teachers were Christians.

I can't explain to you the sense of lostness that I lived in spiritually, growing up.  At 17 I saw the movie about what the Bible explains about Jesus.  I saw Jesus as strong.  And authoritative over creation.  Provocative.  A leader who meekly gave His life, dying cruelly.  He said He did it for me, and for everyone.  He depicted how God cared if a bird fell to the earth, and how much more God cared for me.  And then, He gave me His kind of JOY.  It changed my life.  I still didn't understand sin, or God, really.  Or what my purpose was.  I just knew that I knew the Author.  The Origin.
Me, age 17

Looking back, now, over all those years of feeling empty and lost, I just feel like God had this big hug, wrapped around me.  He was there.  All along.  Even though I was lost, He was there.  His people were there.  God was never that far away.

Why did I have to wait to get saved, I wonder?  So many people who were saved at the age of 17 have done much to glorify Jesus.  Just something I've noticed.  Reid Saunders was saved at 17.  Billy Graham was saved at 16.  The missionary who spoke to us Monday night who went on to give 20 years of his life to the Iteri people, was saved at the age of 17.  It is a kind of fervor that is truly annoying to those who are closest to you; they are a people who just won't stop talking about Jesus.

Don't you just love how provocatively God speaks?  Like sending my favorite science teacher into my church classroom on Monday night where the day before, we had been discussing evolution.  I marvel at God's message to me:

Honey, your science teachers were Christians, just like you.

Thank God for filling in the blanks, showing me His creative presence is so near.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Strangers, An Offering to the LORD

What is an offering that would please the LORD?  Malachi 3:8-10,

"Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."

Does God want an offering of your money? Sometimes. I suppose if it has the power to bring the nations to Christ, then yes. But on the other hand sometimes God likes to accomplish things without our resources, so we can see the difference between our effort and God's power; so He can increase His own fame.

Simon trying to buy the Spirit he already had as a believer, Acts 8
The prophetic book of Isaiah ends with an interesting take on offerings made to God.  It describes STRANGERS as the offering God is seeking. Isaiah 66:18-21,

"For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish ad Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites," says the LORD.

While some of the evangelism described here makes us think these verses are fulfilled in the church age (now), all brothers from all nations have not been brought to Jerusalem (being referred to as the holy mountain which speaks of the future dispensation).

If the age of the 1000 year reign of Christ is characterized by this, shouldn't our Spiritual duty today look the same?   From the beginning of the promise uttered to Abraham, God has been patiently seeking the redemption and transformation of unchurched people!  The excellence... of the power of God on display in lives being changed.  What if that is what He will have His servants offer Him?

And if in the Kingdom era there will be literal pilgrimages to Jerusalem of new believers in Jesus, shouldn't that be fulfilled now in a Spiritual sense?  Malachi 1:7-8,

"You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?

If this is true, ...  Then what, do you think possibly...

Lame  = ?

Sick = ?

Blind = ?

Disciple Making Means the Unchurched will Follow Him

We quote God's Word in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) a lot, but what does a discipling movement look like? The word "disciple" means "follower, learner".  Disciple-making therefore means making disciples of the unchurched. Wait a second, you might say: I make disciples of the people who already attend church!  Isn't that also disciplemaking?  Well, of substance yes, but let me explain a little further.

By definition, a disciple is someone who is willing to follow Jesus. Once someone is willing to follow, then your engagement in making a disciple is done.  The disciple is made - and a certain amount of maintenance remains.  We might differentiate disciple-maintaining from disciple-making.

Help me tell the story of Jesus....  Jesus saw the crowds following Him, picked out 12 to be His first missionaries... and then: did He send them to minister to the crowds already following Him on foot?  

Is that how the story goes??  No :)  On two occasions (prior to Pentecost) Jesus gave the 12 the power to speak and do as He did.  Who were they sent to?  They were empowered to reach the nearby villages where people had not heard the good news so they could be given the chance to follow Jesus too.

The Necessary Work of "Disciple-Maintenance" (Shepherding)

"Disciples" are the willing.  They showed up.  How about at church?  Who shows up at church, usually?  Isn't it the willing?  Those who have chosen in some motivation to follow Christ?

Jesus didn't concern Himself with developing the 12 missionaries' Christianity very far at all before He anointed them to successfully make followers of the LORD. They weren't intelligent, they weren't professionals.  It's not necessary for a "movement."  We all want Christians to have character, granted; and they will by God's grace.

God has a plan in disciple-maintenance, and maybe that is your passion to serve Him.  What I mean by "disciple-maintenance" is the giftings of Shepherd and Teacher.  In His concern for sin, Jesus said, "You follow me because I fed you the bread."  He continually ministers to develop godly character. This is the sanctification process and we're all working on becoming who He has destined us to be.  We come together as a Body to refresh and strengthen our willingness to follow, to learn.

There is a small percentage of followers that aren't what they seem.  But even that God has under control.  On occasion, disciple-maintenance leads us down a road of departure.  Followers "work themselves out."  1 John 2:19,

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

His Power is in Disciple-Making Movements

How big is the testimony of God in the world if we only offer up the incremental faith of the already faithful? Compare the faith of Paul from the writings of 1 Timothy to 2nd Timothy - can you see his faith grow between writing these two books?  Probably not, I'd guess.  By contrast, can you tell the difference between Saul the persecutor of Christians, and Paul the convert of Jesus?  Absolutely!  Conversion is His renown!  Isaiah 61:5,6,9,

Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers....
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast....
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed. 

Would our God be more awe-inspiring, and be more glorious if we could bring the unchurched, the un-gathered, the non-following?   Saved... from the grip of hell on earth, transformed like nobody's business?  Can you remember the last time you heard the story of someone who just accepted Jesus as Savior?  What happened to your soul?  The newly converted remind us of what is important.  I love to hear how touching it is for a person to finally meet God in all His love for them.  How "lame" in transformation are wonderfully but predictably faithful Christians compared to a babe in Christ?  Malachi 1:12-13,

"You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the Lord."

Stolen = Researchers have been reporting that most church growth statistics come from transfers from other congregations of people who are already Christians...?

What if the most beautiful offering in God's eyes is the testimony of His presence in a stranger's life?  What if He loves to hear a new people overwhelmed to discover God as alive, as powerful, as near, as protective, as saving, as gracious.

It can't be bought with money.

Can you give it to Him?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Hungry for Mission

a post originally written on 11/11/12.

"Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."  John 4:10

Jesus is hungry.  Jesus is also thirsty.  Jesus "must needs go through Samaria."  What does the God of the universe need that He does not already have?  The redemption of man in these three years of His life.  His mission: to come and reconcile us.  He needs his bride.  If He does not find His bride, His purpose is failed.  Without a Bride,  Jesus doesn't drink.  Jesus doesn't eat.  When Jesus was low on sustenance, he goes on a mission trip.

No he wasn't talking about earthly food.  His followers think this means earthly food.  They look around a place like Samaria and think, "If we are going to eat in this place, it will have to be brought in from somewhere else."  They take off to get the food, meanwhile Jesus sits down to the feast.

Jesus needs to succeed at His mission to win us.  But if we should not comply and let ourselves be won over by Him, then He has failed.  In that sense, Jesus is thirsty and hopes that His people will give Him a drink.

There is no spiritual food and there is no spiritual drink without a mission trip.  The water is meant to irrigate my sphere of influence and spill out like a flowing moving body of water (streams of living water will flow out from within).  The irrigated area of my sphere of influence is supposed to bear fruit.

So I thought that God was supposed to make the water flow from within me?  But in fact I find that I want most to have God flow His life-giving water out through my life when I come across a person who doesn't know Him at all.  That is why Jesus is thirsty to be around the Samaritan woman.

Why would anyone rob Jesus, mission?  Why would anyone rob Jesus water and food?

"You will ask, 'When did we give you a drink?  When did we feed you?'  I will answer, 'Whoever does this to the least of my brethren, He does it unto Me.'"

Why do I rob Him drink and food?  I get busy and caught up with the finer things in life, such as writing blog posts.

We think that it's hard.  We think that it's hard to find success as a missionary because it's hard in the places we want to win people.  But, it's not.  It really isn't.  That is what Jesus is telling us here.  The disciples look around Samaria and think there is no way to barter for food.  They're totally wrong.  "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" If we are willing to get out of our earthly families as Jesus left His, reaping the harvest is unbelievably easy.  It is already ready!  All we have to do is drink, like Jesus is drinking.  Drink the water of mission.  We can make our prayers about mission.  Ask and He will pour water through you to others.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Children of Comfort

This blog post starts a new post emphasis (label) titled, "Mother Jerusalem's Advice."

What am I replicating in this life -- for all replicate!  Everybody is bearing fruit, but only some fruit lasts to eternity.  What I make of my life will be counted as "children" before God.

Children = good works, the Holy Spirit manifested through me, people accepting the gospel, disciples, eternal life, godly fruit, being clothed properly for Jesus at His coming.
"I want the women adorned with good works..." 1 Tim. 2:10
According to Isaiah 51:18-19, in the next life, "children" are the ones who comfort believers:
Stand up, O Jerusalem...
There is no one to guide her
Among all the sons she has brought forth;
Nor is there any who takes her by the hand
Among all the sons she has brought up.
These two things have come to you;
Desolation and destruction,
famine and sword --
By whom shall I comfort you?
Your sons have fainted,
They lie at the head of all the streets
Like an antelope in the net;
They are full of the fury of the LORD,
The rebuke of your God. 
According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-7) is the one who comforts believers:
But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
We need offspring, we need a child for the next life whom God will be pleased with, Isaiah 52:1,
Awake, awake!  Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Shall no longer come to you
God gave such an offspring!  Isaiah 9:6,
For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a Son is given
Any person who has believed in Jesus for eternal life has a certificate of having adopted a child.  Jesus has been adopted as our Son, though, His true monogenes (pedigree) is that He is the Father's Son.  Why did the Father give us His Son to be our son?  Because there would be no hope for us to bear godly offspring and make disciples of all nations without this gracious gift.  Inside the Jewish nation He was hidden as the lone eternally fruitful legacy of humanity.  Isaiah 49:1-2,
The LORD has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He
has made mention of My name.
And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me. 
But when He hid Jesus as the son of Israel within the Jewish Nation, God also hid Jesus as a child for all the world. Isaiah 49:5-6,
And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Every "offspring," every "child," every practice and manifestation in our lifestyle that bears out in our community to take people away from faith in God will be destroyed before God's face.  As He turned to destroy earthly Jerusalem, so He may destroy us.  God will not be mocked, we will reap what we sow.  Isaiah 63:10,
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Our lives are either manifesting this Son or else our deceptive idols of gaining peace with God.  1 John 4:17,
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
And how was Jesus in the world?  John 4 shows us that Jesus was busy making disciples of God wherever He was accepted.  He equated His own work at evangelism and disciplemaking (evangediscipleship) so critically as whether or not He would have access to food and water stored up in the next life.  John 4:4,
But He needed to go through Samaria.
When has God ever needed ANYTHING...?  John 4:7,
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.'
Jesus plays as much by Kingdom rules as we must.  He was both thirsty and hungry.  He needed to make babies.  He knew this woman would make babies with Him.  Her word of His gospel made the city believe.  A whole city of believers were born.  He taught the 12 how to prepare for the next life, by storing up food NOW.  John 4:34, 36,
Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.  ...  And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life...'.
Her children rise up and call her blessed....
Give her the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
Prov 31:28, 30-31
There will be desolation and famine for all who have not birthed with Christ a team of fellow Christ-followers from among the nations.  They will eat in the next life, but they will have to find food from those who have it.  Jesus equates "evangediscipleship" throughout the Old and New Testaments as essential to survival that He calls it:




(No wonder Jesus relates to the least of these!)

I believe that evangediscipleship is the oil in the lamps of the virgins.  I believe that evangediscipleship will be the measure for our personal bodily resurrection described in Romans 8 and Philippians 3.  I believe it is the purpose for Abraham's family.  And more.  There are so many theologies to unpack from the Bible.  And I don't have the mind for it so much these days, even though I think about these every day.  I just want to paint this quick picture for those reading here.  Isaiah 62:5,
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.
I know the most important thing I can do after attending to my own inner persevering faith in God is to create disciples.  To me, it is exciting to know that the sojourners I choose to bind as a community, as a team, as my Body, my church in this life are the people I will be in network with for all eternity.  Is. 49:18,
'As I live,' says the LORD,
'You shall surely clothe yourselves
with them all as an ornament,
And bind them on you as a bride does.'
If you want to make babies, God has given you His Spirit through which you can exponentially redeem the lives of so many.  It won't look as tangibly productive as literal childbearing or adoption.  It won't feel like this awesome thing that is "done" like holding a baby in your hands and giving him your last name.  You may never see or physically hold or call them your own, but God will cause them to come running back to you in the end.  Isaiah 49:20-23,
The children you will have,
After you have lost the others,
Will say again in your ears,
'The place is too small for me,
Give me a place where I may dwell.'
Then you will say in your heart,
'Who has begotten these for me,
Since I have lost my children and am desolate,
A captive, and wandering to and fro?
And who has brought these up?
There I was, left alone; But these, where were they?'
Thus says the Lord GOD:
'Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
Then you will know that I am the LORD,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.'

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