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Archive for February, 2014

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I am a spiritual being.   I was created that way.   Scripture confirms it.    Experience in my life affirms it.    I am the created, and began in the mortal realm in which I reside today.   And, I am asked to sacrifice, as He sacrificed for us.

There was another spiritual being.   He is.  He was.   He always will be.    In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4)

Earlier this week, I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of college students, and not so ironically, they asked me to speak to the theme of sacrifice.   In thinking about and preparing for that moment, I recalled the old Shel Silverstein book “The Giving Tree”.

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Its a story about a tree, and a boy, and how they share life, and how the tree sacrifices again, and again, and again, for the benefit of, and out of love for, a boy.   In the end, the tree gives almost all it has to give, and the boy is blessed.   So is the tree, even in its sacrifice.

In many ways, I see a strong Christian allegory imbedded in that story.

We discussed Jesus’ love and sacrifice in our Bible class time this Sunday morning.   The reality washed over me regarding my creation, and my opportunity to sacrifice as He did and to share with HIm in eternity.   He was not created, He was the creator, and he took on relationships of a whole different kind, so that we could do the same.

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.  (John 19:23-27)

Jesus took sacrifice to a new level.   Being a spiritual being, and becoming in all forms human, subject to human pain, and hunger, and fatigue, and relationships, and sorrow, He experienced that which He was not subject to enduring before.   And, He did so willingly.   That is hard for me to fathom, and even more awesome for me to understand, and to appreciate.

It it makes all the difference.    When I am old, and tired, and worn, I will find rest in Him.

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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:5)

And the tree, and The Word, was happy.

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The morning is breaking.

The house is quiet.  

The cat is taking her rightful Saturday morning place in my lap.

The coffee is brewing.

And, I’m alive, albeit a year older.

29 and feelin’ fine?   No, and I don’t even wish for it.    48 and feelin’ great is more like it.

As I sat down to start my weekly quiet reboot window, I opened Pandora’s box and found Mercy Me’s “The Hurt and the Healer” cued up and playing.    And I’m happy about it.

I’m no Phil Robertson, but I am happy happy happy, even if maybe I don’t always show it.   As I think back about the statistical 2/3 past and the statistical 1/3 to come, and hopefully that and then some, I’m glad to be alive.

This is where I belong.   Teach me some melodious sonnet.    I want to raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.   Sorry, there was another Pandora’s box digression or two there.

So, to close these not yet old but getting there reflections this morning, I want to share a few of the lyrical thoughts from the aforementioned Mercy Me tune:

Why?
The question that is never far away…

…It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all the scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”
I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take this heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide
Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide…

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I was out with some family and friends several nights ago when a song was played that I’d not heard before, and things suddenly felt fuzzy:

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only One Foundation
We believe, We believe…

My immediate thoughts centered around the simple message, and the simple fact that I agreed with the words being sung.

Then I listened a little more.

In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only One Salvation
We believe, We believe…

If that is what I believe, why do I so often feel the way that I do?

I think (I might say, “I like to believe…”) I live a good life.

I have an responsible career calling.    I love my job, but it brings along its own unique degree of stress and struggle.

I have a great family.   I love them, and want to provide and lead them well, showing them faith in my actions.   I want to protect them from harm, and from evil, and from hurt, and from others.   Sometimes, I even want to protect them from me, in a manner of speaking.  I want what is best for them, but life sometimes has a different definition of best than I do.

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I have a great God.   He created me.   He has called me out from the sin and struggle of the world.
We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
So, why, you (and I) might ask, do I believe that life often strikes me the way that it does?   Maybe, I believe, it is because I sometimes forget what I believe.
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again, we believe
The story of Jesus tells me that this life is not what we are to hold on to.    
He says things about it being harder for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and I suddenly start to believe (or remember) those words apply to my life.
He says things about the water he provides keeping us from ever thirsting again, and I suddenly start to believe (or remember) why I feel so parched.
So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, We believe!We believe in God the Father!
We believe in Jesus Christ!
We believe in the Holy Spirit!
And He’s given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He’s comin’ back again!
And, for a brief moment, both during the hearing of the song a few days ago and in moments that have followed as I’ve listened to it again, I’ve felt like I’m hearing about Jesus for the very first time.    I believe I like it.
Let the lost be found and the dead be raised!
In the here and now, let love invade!
Let the church live love our God will see
We believe, We believe!
And the gates of hell will not prevail!
For the power of God, has torn the vail!
Now we know Your love will never fail!
We believe, We believe!
It is crystal clear: I know what I believe.  I want to never forget it.   I want to live it loud.    Do you know what you believe?
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We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He’s comin’ back,
He’s comin’ back again!
He’s comin’ back again!
We believe!
We believe
Can I get an amen?

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