God never…. never changes

God never…. never changes

(In response to John Pavlovitz’s Things I Stopped Believing After the Election)

We live in a world of opposing concepts. It is a world of flux, and a world of constance. We wake up, and the sun shines. We take a breath. Constance. Yet, the world is in flux. We learn news from around the globe that we weren’t expecting. Empires rise, and they fall. Power comes to some, leaves others… and soon enough the first to gain power have lost it. Political parties do this and that. People die. Babies are born. We may miss that bus, or meet a random stranger in the line for coffee. Our lives are dichotomies. But, as the title suggests, God never changes. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He has no variation. No shadow. No internal conflict. No unexpected qualities or events. He is – יהוה. Yahweh. From before the beginning, and even after the end, God will have been the same being that sculpted the something from the nothing. He will be the Creator of life from emptiness. He will be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as. He. has. always. been. God never…. never … changes.

We cant say the same about people… We disagree with people. We dislike people. We may even hate some people. And hatred seems to be a prominent issue in todays culture. Both the right and left side of the political aisle have found that pandering to fear and hate produces voters, and voters keep them in power. This election cycle has been a nightmare, a dream, or a twilight feeling that you cant seem to shake! Many are dissatisfied with everything about everything that was this last election cycle. They are calling out. They gnash their teeth in anger. They seek something else to explain why and how and WTH?? Many have lost hope, they have lost faith, they have lost feeling.

I myself have not lost faith. Nor have I lost hope, or joy, or understanding. So, as I look out over this country after more than a quarter under a new president, I see a few truths that I feel need to be drawn out. This post is in response to many who have spoken out since election results, but particularly in response to John Pavlovitz, a man who leads a church and seems to forget what Christ’s Church is ultimately. It is not a place to feel warm and fuzzy, not like the American church is today. Christ’s Church is universal, it stretches across political boundaries, denominations, geographical distances, and space-time. Right now there is an American missionary in Turkey, held without a real sense of any release coming – and he is living a life not unlike Paul, that reflects Christ more truly than these politically comfortable churches out there! But that is another post for another time…

People are completely broken.
When Adam and Eve ate of their own pride and arrogance, mankind was broken. We are totally deprived, totally bad – though not as bad as we could be. Obviously there are people worse than you, dear reader. But you are never as bad as you could be. Sin hasn’t tainted you quite that badly. If you have kids, or have been around people for any amount of time. If you have friends – you know that people are not inherently good. To quote one of my favorite shows (and excuse the language – it has its place) : “people are bastard coated bastards, with bastard filling.” We cannot deny that. There is no human on the face of this planet that doesn’t have sin nature they are hiding. Your kindest, sweetest, most generous person goes home to a room full of baggage and sin that manifests differently for everyone. Your most devout Christian dad is hiding a tempting sin just waiting to overcome him.

I point this out to say that no man is perfect. No woman is perfect. Additionally, people are as broken today as they were thousands of years ago. Paul writes to Christians around the Mediterranean reminding them that they once lived in the most despicable sins. From lying and adultery, to homosexuality and murder. They were once, too, part of the damned crowd. This election cycle brought out the worst in many, many people. We saw, and still see, an unbelievable amount of hatred spewing forth from far too many powerful people. But look back at Cain, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Pharaoh, the Philistines, the Syrians and Babylonians, and so many more. Think about the many historical figures you have studied that have done terrible things. Think about the articles you read, or specials you watch, that tear down the image of these supposedly “standup citizens” who actually have many many demons. People are broken. It is undeniable.

Sin corrupts our whole being, and we cannot deny that broken nature. It’s why we want to backstab when a wrong is felt. It is why we cannot help be feel selfishly angry when our friend is successful in the midst of our perceived failure. No man is good, not even one, and our brokenness leads to our eventual demise for said evil nature. If left to our own devices, void of any of God’s grace, we would tear down the walls of hell itself to let ourselves in. We would simply be given over completely to our passions, to our natures, to our malice and hate and pride. It would be an unnerving life to live. We would truly be like the animals. But there is an answer, and a solution to this dilemma we find ourselves in. Though many will never seek this road.

Christ makes the world better.
So what is the answer. Is it money? Power? Love? Karmic balance? Good works? No, surprisingly it is what the heading of this section is. Christ. Christ is what makes the world better, it is wha- Who – will save this world. The dilemma we face is a lack of Christ. Not a lack of the church. Not a lack of government funding programs. Or denominational support. Or parachurch ministries. We need – you and I and the world need – Christ. But which Christ? Suit and tie wearing, right wing, gun toting Christ that fought and died for your right to beat people over the head with His book while simultaneously breaking commandment after commandment in secret (many times while people know your sin)? Is it the grandfatherly character who just loves you so much that he sent another to take your place and redeem you and love you and blah. Blah blah? No. He also isn’t Christ of multiculturalism or the Christ of a meta-narrative. He isn’t the one who matches your every need, want, desire, wish, and belief.

Who He is is the Savior. The Son of the Living God. He is the one who by which all creation unfolded. He is the Word of Truth. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Fountain. He is the fulfillment of Scripture. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What He isn’t is a catch all. He is not everyone’s Savior, but He is the world’s, because people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will be found in His Kingdom. Christ makes the world better. Not religion. Religion is man-fused. It has many bits and pieces of human in it. It tastes spoiled and poopy.

America is completely broken.
This sentiment may seem to go against the typical, conservative, Christian, political stance. Additionally, it may seem to fall in line with the progressive, leftist concept that America is a terrible place due to anti-this/that ideas and policies. Neither is true. The fact that America is completely broken has nothing to do with worldly things, and everything to do with spiritual things. It is also wrong to think I am simply pointing out America’s shortcomings. This spiritual brokenness spans across all countries and nations the world over!

Many conservatives read portions of Scripture and believe that they refer to America. The main verse used is 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” It is anachronistic and honestly foolish to think this. The people of God are no longer tied only to a nation, or country, or nationality, or any outwardly distinguishing factor! The people of God are the Church. And the Church is full of people who have a Savior. That Savior brought them up out of sin and brokenness. And America is terribly broken. We all can see that.

Beauty is not found in broken things. It is found when things are fixed, and put back in their true state. Many times things must be broken to see their beauty, but brokenness is not beautiful. It is this Truth that makes the Gospel more amazing. Christ saved those who were unbeautiful. Those who were unlovely and unwanted. America is many of those things, but America is not special. It is another broken nation of broken people needing Christ. The Church needs to show that more and more – especially when politics and other such things (many of which were relied upon as allies for many many years) are no longer showing that message. We need to be preaching salvation. Redemption by work that is not our own. Grace that abounds even in the face of our brokenness. Mercy that exists without expectation. Justice that will inevitably find its place, the question is where will we find ourselves? When time runs out, where will we be? Fighting for a better tomorrow that eventually will cease to exist, or existing to bring about a tomorrow that has already been set in stone by He who created all things? A tomorrow that is more beautiful, and unbroken, than we could ever imagine?

His table is big enough
This future date will come. All of creation is crying out for its arrival. A time is coming when people of every tribe, tongue, color, background, struggle, triumph, wealth class, societal class, etc… will be brought together. Under one banner. To one table. And that table will be overflowing. There will be more for those there than they can ever imagine or consume. But this table will not be furnished by mankind. It will be furnished FOR mankind, IN SPITE of mankind’s failures and faults.

Christ’s table is open to all who would be brought in. It’s a difficult subject to fully understand, but His table has had place settings since before the beginning of creation. Those who would come hadn’t even been born yet and God chose them to be there. We can be assured that His table is sufficient because He is without change, and knows who and what is necessary – always has, always will. This table will be overflowing with the best food and drink and fellowship that we could ever imagine. His table is being set, and the guests are being called. The invitation is simple, “do you believe in your need for salvation due to your undeniable brokenness? Do you believe that the Gospel, life, death, and resurrection is all you need to fulfill the debt of your brokenness?”

If that seems unbelievable or totally far fetched – you aren’t alone. Most don’t want to believe that’s all Christ is about, that this is all Christianity is about. They see crusades, and perceive bigotry in Christ and His followers. But Christ loves His own. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. The call is a high one though, and a rough road. It is a humbling road. It asks you to give yourself up, a highly erratic thing to consider nowadays. To come to the table is to admit you cannot feed yourself – truly – on your own. But Christ is sufficient. His table is full, and will forever be full.

Our table is not. The worlds table is not. It will be ultimately found bare. It will exclude many. So for someone to claim that THAT table is not big enough, is simply an understatement. The world, with all its claims of love and acceptance, it will leave many out. New tables form. More are left outside. The world wants to provide but has not the means. Only one does. Christ.

Christ is all you need
This world has many gods. Many little cords that pull on our hearts. Greed. Honor. Pride. Niceness. Tolerance. Deeds. Family ties. So very many. And everyone is guilty of falling into their enticements. Many times we are enticed by promise of a better life, or at least and easier one. Before moving onto the obvious answer (it’s set up in the section title), let’s take an honest look at the other options we find in the world.

Money is a popular option. Money buys happiness. Money creates stability. It makes the world revolve. Wealth is a symbol of completeness. When you can lean on your wealth, you have little to worry about. But who can name the top wealthiest in the world? Who can remember the wealthiest of the 19th or 20th centuries? Where did Rockefeller, or the railroad tycoons’ money go? Who remembers the great fall of the Wall Street brokers in the past? Money causes the best of men to make the worst of decisions to simply obtain more of it. It turns us into slaves.

But what about spirituality, or godless religion? Doing good. Karma! These things bring about good in the world, no? Think about Buddha, or Ghandi, or Nelson Mandela! These people had no Christ. These people did good things in the name of mankind! If we can just do good, if we can just put more good in that we put bad we will have done our good service and can die in peace, to be taken back into Mother Earth! Right? This is a nice thought. No doubt about that. But did their work ultimately fix anything? Buddhism has been around for ages, longer than Christianity, yet their philosophies haven’t made any lasting impact. Ghandi’s passion still exists in many places, but racism and classism still pervades many minds. These actions will eventually fade. Every aspect to their work will become simply history – forgotten. And remember, there have been plenty of terrible things done in the name of “gods.” Every religion has had something attached to it, even anecdotally that is bad for publicity. I myself have asked that question before many times. Why do I need this Christ person? I am a nice guy. I do nice things, kind things. I seek to bring about good in others, I seek their good. But the question that always comes back to me is “why?”

Why do this? Why do one thing, and not the other? What reason do I have? Is it societal clues we have developed and trained? Is it evolutionary biology which has brought us to a realization of some form of right and wrong? Can we look out on the world we have created, and live in, and honestly say that there is even good or evil? This is a tough question, and one that has plagued theologians since we first sinned. But something that nearly all thinkers, scholars, theologians, sociologists, biologists, economists, philosophers, and many others can agree on is this: this world is broken. We have droughts, and famines. We lie, cheat, and steal. We murder – many times without remorse or second thought. We blindly follow passions and fears. We die. Civilization is crying for something to make sense of this “why.” And it is this “why” that I see such Truth in the Cross.

“Christ is all we need” can be a rather pithy statement. What about air, or water, or food, or warmth, or love? What about technology? Well, yes, our bodies need those things. But we are more than a body. Biology tells us that without a shred of doubt, these bodies will decay. There is practically nothing we can do to stop this slow churning to demise. But the “why” tells us something about after that happens. These bodies will die. We will take our last breath eventually. But, and I truly believe this scientifically and spiritually, we are more than our physical bodies. That spirit which lives inside us is more real, in many aspects, than the nose on our face. That spirit needs more than wealth, or religion, or warmth – it needs Christ. It needs salvation from the shackles it finds itself in. It needs redemption from its numerous short comings and pitfalls. It needs assurance of a brighter tomorrow. Things of this world will not bring those things. Not politics, not wealth, not preachers or teachers or gurus. No thing of this world will satisfy that hunger within you crying out for more. No song will ever fully satisfy that voice. No promotion will fully satisfy that desire. No women, or man, or child, will satisfy that need for family or relation. Christ. Can. So when I say that Christ has the ability to fulfill your every need, I mean it in a Spiritual way.

In Closing

Now, all of these sections could be expounded on. And maybe sometime in the future I will have time to. But I want to hear your thoughts. Your ideas on what I am saying. Wrestle with it. Question me on it. Dialogue. Think. Pray. This tumultuous time in our country should not be faced with fear and trembling, because He who as conquered the world is still in control. No politician can stop His kingdom advancing. No threat of violence can stop His Spirit from moving. No fear of oppression can prevent His Word from reaching the unreached.

Take heart brothers and sisters, Christ has won. There is no fear of today, for today is one day closer to Christ.

Take heart brothers and sisters, justice will be served. There is no need to fear those who oppose. Christ is victorious.

Take heart brothers and sisters, sin and Satan, have lost. Do not listen to their lies, for their lies cannot even convince their ears.

The world we live in may seem scary, may seem like a reality tv show – but remember to live everyday as to the Lord. To work your hardest to bring Him glory, and you will not be disappointed.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

David

Whose are you?

Whose are you?

The Question Posed

Are we conservative? Or Christian? Are we liberal/progressive? Or are we Christian? Are we conservative Christians? Liberal Christians? Which comes first? The world wants to know. When you identify as a follower of Christ, the main contention with the world hinges on where we fall politically. We ask silly questions of where Jesus would fall on this issue or that issue… We claim moral superiority based on which political leaning we cling to – but not due to the Words of the Lord. So, I ask again, whose are you? Which identity would most define you?

For some of you reading you may immediately answer “Christian, duh! I believe in the Bible, and I believe that God is sovereign, and I believe that Christ is the only way to eternal salvation!” But I want to ask you to look closer – look at your heart, and how you live your life functionally… Whose. Are. You? Do you make decisions based on what your political leanings state are acceptable? Do you make friends, and enemies, based on how they believe the nation’s Congress works with the POTUS? Do you find yourself quoting politicians, or knowing their beliefs to a better degree than you know your Lord’s? When you do quote Scripture is it to back up a politician’s words or platform? OR, maybe a more pressing question could be, can you quote your favorite team’s stats to a better degree than you can quote passages of Living Water?

For many in this nation politics take over their essential identity. For others it is their favorite sport team (whether pro or college level – sometimes both!). Some identify by their dislikes more than their Savior. Others find identity in their sexuality – their uniqueness – their race/nationality –  their wealth – their self-approval/disapproval – their denomination… Brothers and sisters, we cannot make a living that way! Not a living that glorifies Christ, at least! We need to develop a “Gospel Identity.”

The Answer – Gospel Identity

Finding identity in the Gospel means that our life is shaped by the Truth found in Christ’s words. It means that our life is shaped by Christ, and not the other way around. THAT means you like a politician, or a song, or a celebrity, or any other thing BECAUSE that thing is pleasing to Christ (or at the very least not offensive to Him). What aspects of your life are not affected by the Truth of Christ? …the answer is none… None parts of your life are absent from Christ’s desire for you.

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I understand “none parts” isn’t grammatically correct

Christ asks for nothing short of all of us. When we find ourselves compelled by grace, we should find that our whole selves are compelled – not just those parts that are easy. Those easy parts would be our kind words, our gestures of kindness towards kind people, lending a hand when convenient – and the like… When Christ calls us “Come and die,” He calls our whole person. And that is not easy. Finding our identity in the Truth of the Gospel calls for a surprising life. But what would that life look like?

A surprising life, centered on an identity in Christ, is covered in the just love of He who gave us life. It oozes a sense of wonder at our place in life – bought by our Savior’s blood. It supersedes every other consideration you can think of (even when there are times that other things may overtake it). A surprising life centered in Christ is one that can be counter-cultural, while maintaining a humility found only in Him who gave us faith. A surprising life finds God’s truth everywhere, but knows that ultimately it resides in His Word given to us in Scripture. A surprising life is had by one that can love his neighbor, but not accept their life decisions – and that neighbor never feels judged. A surprising life, found through holding to a full and true identity in Christ, is in itself full, and needs no nourishment from the world.

This life is hard, Christ promised it would be when He told His followers “I came not to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34). A Gospel identity is very different than a conservative identity… or a progressively liberal identity… or a philanthropist identity… or a homosexual identity… or a black identity… A Gospel identity looks at what Christ said (I am the way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:), and what He did (the Pharisees asked why Christ dined with sinners – Matthew 9:11). We live a life centered on Gospel identity when we stand up for our belief in the truth of heterosexual marriage – marriage founded in God, not man. We life a Gospel identity life when we vote for a candidate that wishes to care for the poor by giving them a hand up (John 9:6), not a hand out (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We live a life with an identity centered on the Gospel when we choose to speak words of mercy or love rather than curse another man made in God’s image (James 3:10). Yet we continue living a life of Gospel identity when we call out a brother in sin (James 5:19-20).

A Gospel Identity should be one that is counter-cultural. It shouldn’t just be a “nice life,” a “kind life.” When we do good, our actions should point back to Christ, who saved us from certain damnation. We do that by living unapologetically for Him! When we do good, when we are praised – direct that praise back to Him, not yourself. If I can give any other encouragement: when you live with this mindset, you will make a difference. People will notice. It has happened to me multiple times at my jobs. Speak up about your faith – don’t hide it, don’t apologize for it. That is how you live a life of Gospel identity.

 

will apologize for this post though, it may seem rambling – or seem a little scatterbrained. I write this sitting in a coffee shop, my first time really writing with some distractions around me… So, I hope this post makes sense, and that you find it encouraging yet challenging as we enter a time inundated in politics and sports, and so many other things clammering for a spot in your identity.

 

God bless!

énouement

énouement

According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (what a sad title for a website…), énouement means:

n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front.

I love language. Language is a passion that I will never fully be able to explore. It especially is difficult because I know English… and frankly… English sux. It is at the same time far to specific and far too generalized to get a lot of meaning across. “Love” is a great example.

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I “love” my wife. I “love” Marvel Entertainment. I “love” chocolate peanut butter pie my Aunt makes me. HOW?? How can I “love” them all? Because English has no real different meaning for that one word. Sure, I could be – again – uber specific or uselessly vague by using words like “enjoy,” “am obsessed with,” “relish,” et al… But when we hear people use that word we simultaneously do understand, and occasionally don’t understand what the speaker is actually saying in context.

Why did I just go into such excrutiating detail about that? Well, take the title of this post, “énouement.” That is not English. That is French. That word – that one word – in it’s native language means that entire paragraph above in English?! That is insane! We need more words like that in our language!

Why is my title énouement you, undoubtedly, ask yourself!? Well, its the concept I want to tackle right now! As I begin to branch this blog out from just discussing hymns and the like, I wanted to incorporate my family and my life as is. But as I thought about where to start, the one thought that kept coming back to me was, “man! If only I could talk to my senior self of high school, or even my close of freshman year in college self! I could give him a pat on the shoulder and wish him a good job. Sure, there would be challenges, but the life you are going to have is so much more than you ever dreamed!”

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just look at those two goobers

As I look back on the past – heck – 8 years I see such a development that I literally cannot do anything but praise God. The kid in that left photo said goodbye to the only life he knew after graduating high school. Goodbye to marching band, friends that stuck by him for nearly a decade. And stepped into a world that would be very different. It took me until I had nearly graduated college to realize, I wasn’t ever going home again. At least not in the way it was when I started my college career. When I began working for Bonclarken I was so naive it is almost funny. Almost. I remember nights talking with some of the guys I worked alongside and having my eyes opened to conceptions of the world that I had honestly never even fathomed existed. Ways to interact with people that had never crossed my mind.

But that isn’t even where it gets good. My college times were, hands-down, some of the best of my life. Or that is what I thought in the heat of the moment. My friends I gained from those years, friendships begun (Allyson, Tyler, Thomas, David)  and friendships refined (Scott, Lisa, John, and John) are ones that have radically defined my life. Erskine is where I met my wife. It’s where I started seminary. I refined my leadership skills. I found a deeper love for music, and a deeper love for Christ. Erskine College, and some seminary, was an amazing time in my life.

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We look so young! And me so skinny?!

But college ended. Seminary was postponed. I am now in a time that has shown to be the most challenging, yet most rewarding time in my life. Right out of college, the love of my life and I were wed on a perfect day 6/9/12 and 3pm. Because, like language, we both like numbers! Aren’t we just too cute?! During our time being married (going on 4 years) we have had some serious ups alongside some serious downs. We have struggled in ways that I would have never guessed possible. We have prayed. We have wept. We have loved harder. We have prayed even more. And God provides. I have paid bills on less than $20k a year. I look back on where we began – me providing on a part time job at Chick-fil-A – and I am astonished at how God provides. He provides with friends showing up with money to help out. He provides with parents who do this or that to cover something. He provides with better hours… a better job… a raise … a promotion… He just simply provides.

Then, when it seems like God has provided all you need, He laughs – and gives you a son.

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A mini-me

You think you know love? You think you know sacrifice? Do you suppose you know absolute fear for the well-being of another? Becoming a parent will do that. When you see this life that God has blessed you with, and you see how fragile it is… and God blessed you with him?? You are just a kid yourself?? But when you have a child, you are no longer a kid anymore. I don’t care how immature you may be – that child changes the world (even if you don’t follow along). Our son has shown me a joy I never thought I was missing. He has become an object lesson I had always heard about in sermons, but can now experience myself! His laughter is contagious! His kisses seem so genuinely loving! His hugs tighter than you could have ever imagined. When he cries, you cry. When he is hurt, you are hurt. And when he is sick, you would literally do anything to take that from him. So, how does God complement a son?

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SUPER!

He gives you a daughter! We are in the last weeks of this pregnancy, and then we will be a perfectly balanced family! God knows what He is doing. He blesses in ways we never imagine. We find blessing everywhere we look. And it is beautiful.

 

So, what would I tell myself? “Young man! Get a haircut, you hippy!” No, well… maybe that too. But I would tell myself to just hold on man, you literally cannot imagine what is headed your way! You think those people you hang out with daily in high school are your life friends? Just wait until you meet your roommate! You think that girl you have a crush on will define your love life? Ooooooh myyyyy gooooooodnessss! Just you wait man. You think your parents are ridiculous, and frustrating? Ask yourself how ridiculous you are when your son is running around with a loaded diaper. You think you understand God’s love? You. Aint. Seen. Nothing. Yet.

 

… and the beauty is that ten years from now I will undoubtedly look back at who I am right now and think the same thing… And that is the beauty of who God is, and who He is in our lives.

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

#hymnsforHim

The Sands of Time Are Sinking

1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for –
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

2. The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

3. O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

4. The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

5. O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit –
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

I know this hymn from my childhood…but I can’t tell you the last time I sang it, let alone read through it. But – seriously – if you just skipped down to my words, go back and read through that! It’s like reading C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien! The imagery!! The content! Wow. Just wow.

 There is honestly so much in this song that speaks volumes about the beauty of God’s plan in this world. A plan that “brings a poor vile sinner into His house of wine.” It provides the answer to the two part question:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who are we in relation to God?

God is He who, from the foundation of time, has been the fountain of all things. He is beautiful, He is glorious, He is mercy incarnate. God is He who with the same power that breaks the will of Leviathan (Job 41), gently lifts up the broken who trust on Him. God is He who willingly takes in those who are helplessly sinful and shows them a mercy that cannot be described with human analogy. His mercy is extended to those who are called according to His purpose. Mercy is not free to all, but free to those whom He foreknew. Those who He foreknew, He also predestined.  How just would mercy be if it were for everyone..?

Who are we? Well, we are the poor, vile sinner. We sin. Daily. I mess up. Daily. I find myself chasing after temptuous thoughts. Literally. I just want to find a new way to be a bad Christ-follower. I take part in teasing, or negative talk of someone at work. I seek that thing that arouses me in sin. Seek it. Look for it at times. Or maybe I get angry at my wife for no reason other than she was right about something that I wanted to be right about… thus making me feel guilty. Seriously. Sinning is one of the easiest things to do when fallen. All of mankind has this problem, and that should not be hard to see. So, as nasty vile sinners – what are we to do? Do we just simply ignore the problem, say it is made up, and pat ourselves on the back for being less evil than other more evil people?? No. We need salvation. We need cleaning. Thus, the mercy that God provides is most necessary to our eternal living arrangements.

But – as a nasty, vile, selfish, proud sinner – do you think I am going to just be like, “yea! awesome, you are going to take my sin away, reminding me of how terrible I am. AND, you are going to do it for free because, in your own perfect Will, You decided that I was to be called to be in your family? AND there is nothing I did to deserve or earn this? Great! Sounds good!” No. Of course not. That may sound like the easiest gig in the world. But it gives up control. We no longer command our fate. Our destiny then is necessarily sealed from the get go. We also must admit we were flawed in the first place. This too, a post/ultra-modern “no-no.” We can’t just give up control!? That flies in the face of all we are taught about who we are as people, as Americans... We must be commanders of our own fate. Captains of our own ship. But Christ calls us to toss all that aside and see Him as our true salvation.

The bride looks to the bridegroom, not her own garments. His beauty is immensely more beautiful than her own. Even at her best. She knows this. And is swept up in its Truth. It is His sacrifice that draws her attention the strongest, not the prize such a sacrifice awards. But this is a gospel we need to preach to ourselves daily. This isn’t always easy to remember. Christians, I think, get so caught up in the concept of sharing the gospel with others that we forget to preach the gospel to ourselves first. You must first find that God has brought you into right relation with Him before you can even attempt to bring another into right relation with Him. Remove the log from your own eye, before you point out the speck in another’s. And that analogy works both from a prideful and logical standpoint.

Finally, let’s Tarantino this, and go back to the very beginning of the song. “The sands of time are sinking…” We are in the last hour. Every minute we are alive is one minute closer to Christ’s return. We are given basically one calling as Christians – aside from trusting on Him who gave us eternal life. It actually spawns off from that gift and trust. Once, like I said above, we get our own heads on straight (facing Him, not ourselves), we need to be facing out. Into the world. Reflecting the Light of the world, Jesus the Christ. A friend of mine, quoting another theologian, told me a profound truth. If I were one outside the faith. If I had Christian friends who, believing to be holding the one true Key to eternal joy and eternal life with a God who had created all things with but words. AND, if those friends never had the gall or gumption to breach the subject with me… well, I would be appalled! Do I not deserve evangelism? Do I not need to hear these words, even if I think you are mad to the core? Regardless of what another person will say or think or do in response to your proposition of the Gospel, is it not your duty to share that Gospel??

“The sands of time are sinking.” Christ will return with no warning. And I ask you, American Christians? I ask myself… What are we doing about it? Are we drinking, and eating, and being merry – because tomorrow we die? Are we blissfully ignorant of our friends and family that have no saving faith? Are we… dare I say it… selfish? Selfish of the gift we have been given? I doubt that last one – or at least I hope not… Honestly I think it is fear. Fear of the “no.” Fear of rejection. Fear of awkwardness… And, let me say this, I am typing this – and hearing it in my head – and my words condemn me too. How easy is it to just slide along through life not offending anyone. Not bringing Truth into the conversation at work when you hear so many lies? Not being a source of Living Water when a friend needs it – even if they don’t want to hear it! Brothers and sisters. We rejected the Living Water too! We didn’t want to hear where we needed to change a portion of our lives. But Christ wants to save as many of mankind as He can. And trust me, He will save all of His people.

Don’t get me wrong. My, your, our personal involvement in salvation is moot. We are simply doing His work. But step back and think about that! God – in His infinite wisdom and power – knew it was best for me, for you, for us, to be involved personally in the salvation and evangelism of this world. We get the immense pleasure of being a part of a plan that reaches back before the foundation of the world. God chooses to use us, poor vile sinners, to bring the Truth of the Good News to other poor vile sinners. To share the stories that show the Truth of our fallen nature, but the just Truth of His mercy. That we stand in Christ alone for our salvation. The sands of time are sinking, and we need to ask ourselves how are we working out our salvation? Are we working it out with fear and trembling, as Paul writes, or are we complacent – poised to be spit out for the sin of “lukewarmness” as John writes?

If you have any questions, please comment or message me! If you like this post, please “like” and share! If you need me to expound on something, let me know! Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

2. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

3. Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

4. And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

5. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

#hymnsforHim

Amazing grace, as one of the most well known hymns, has touched the lives of millions upon millions of people since its inception in the 1800’s. It tells us a story not unlike our own – one of woe, and sin; one of complete helplessness, one of traversing many hardships. Yet the tag is always pointing to our Savior who promises so much more if we but accept grace freely given.

Grace is a concept that seems somewhat foreign to our post/hyper-modern world. To give freely what is unearned, or in fact undeserved seems preposterous. Grace must be co-opted. It is both a work of God and of man. He offers it, and we reach out and accept it. That makes the most sense, no? It may make sense to the world. Nothing is free. But grace, God’s grace, THAT is free.

For grace to be merited, is to make assumption that we have power in our salvation. That may sound empowering, and to some it may even sound like a good thing! But lets think for a second. How good are you really? How often, in the heat of a moment of temptation, do you choose good – do you choose God? I would be honest in saying over 50% of the time I choose sin. So, if we co-opt with God for our salvation, when did we choose good? Why does one particular choice bring salvation, and others are just choices? Are we really that proud to say that God, the omnipotent, all gracious Being that He is can be turned away? That when He offers grace to a sinner, we have any choice but to accept it in awe and amazement of His majesty?

That is what this song allows us to see. Amazing grace! How sweet such an offer sounds, that He would wish to save such a wretched sinner as myself?? Once I wandered the wilderness that is my sin, I was lost in my own damnation – but now! Now, I am found in Him who found me. He took my face, He made the scales to fall from my blind eyes. He held my blackened heart and He made me new. He taught me true fear, a fear of not knowing Him – then instantaneously He relieved those fears through His grace. There is so much in my life I have already done, that I have already made it through. It is by God’s grace that I stand here today – that I found breath this morning. And I know – I know for certain! – that it is His grace that will lead me to a new home when my time comes. It will be a life of endless peace and worship – one devoid of sinful flesh. It will be a life full of true purpose, and absolute fellowship with my brothers and sisters and with our Lord. And when we have spent an incalculable number of days before our Lord, singing His praises, working in and to His glory, it will be as if we had only begun.

Amazing grace!

How Deep the Father’s Love

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

——————-

This song is so powerful. It speaks to so many facets of my faith – my conviction. It reminds us of the reality of sin, the beauty of Christ’s death, and the new reality of His resurrection.

I think people need to understand this side of the Christian faith. We aren’t all Joel Osteen’s, or Phelps families, or defenders of the crusades, or any other false ”

options

” of Christ out there.

I hope to make this more clear as I make more posts, but a true Christian is one that accepts the reality of our sinful nature and our depravity… This must occur alongside a full, headlong plunge into the truth of Christ’s resurrection. His resurrection is the hinge, the crux, the entire point of my faith. To deny the
Resurrection is to deny Christ’s entire life and mission. To say it didn’t happen is to say that He was a liar lunatic, and His followers were literally just as out of their minds. Remember that these men went to their deaths with one thought on their minds, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

So what drives you? What gives you purpose? You see my goal, to give glory to Him who gave me true life. I work, I play, I live in both realities: sin and resurrection.