April 16, 2012

the broken one upon the tree

the broken one upon the tree

Be lifted, eyes, to look and see
The broken one upon the tree

Tho' grief and trials fly around
And seek to hold your vision down

On fleeting things that will not last
Tho' difficult, they soon must pass

If you can look to see him there
He can relieve you from despair

His suffering and pain ached more
Than anything you must endure

He won for you a victory - 
the broken one upon the tree

So follow his example now
In brokenness and grief bow down

For as he conquered death and sin
You, too, will conquer while in him

And tho' this season's dark with pain
forsake your bitterness and claim

His blood and trials as your own
Never forget - he is your home

And you, o eyes, who ache to see
the broken one upon the tree

One glance of him and you'll forget
all of the pain you now have met

March 04, 2011

The Excellency of Christ

Okay, I am a terrible blogger. It's been close to eight months since my last post, and I am not going to pretend that's going to improve anytime soon. However, from time to time I might post a fantastic quote that I just can't stop thinking about. That's the plan for today. This is long, but believe me, it's worth the read. It comes from a sermon titled, The Excellency of Christ, by Jonathan Edwards.

"What is there that you can desire should be in a Saviour, that is not in Christ? Or, wherein should you desire a Saviour should be otherwise that Christ is? What excellency is there wanting? What is there that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or, what can you think of that would be encouraging, which is not to be found in the person of Christ? Would you have your Saviour to be great and honourable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean person? And, is not Christ a person honourable enough to be worthy that you should be dependent on him; is he not a person high enough to be apoointed to so honourable a work as your salvation? Would you not only have a Saviour of high degree, but would you have him, notwithstanding his exaltation and dignity, to be made also of low degree, that he might have experience of afflictions and trials, that he might learn by the things that he has suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted? And has not Christ been made low enough for you? And has he not suffered enough? Would you not only have him possess experience of the afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in danger, and afraid of it? This Christ has had experience of, which experience gave him a greater sense of it, a thousand times, than you have, or any man living has. Would you have your Saviour to be one who is near to God, that so his mediation might be prevalent with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only-begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit? For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him. Would you have a Saviour that has given some great and extraordinary testimony of mercy and love to sinners, by something that he has done, as well as by what he says? And can you think or conceive of greater things than Christ has done? Was it not a great thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human nature; to be not only God, but man thenceforward to all eternity? But would you look upon suffering for sinners to be a yet greater testimony of love to sinners, than merely doing, thought it be ever so extraordinary a thing that he has done? And would you desire that a Saviour should suffer more than Christ has suffered for sinners? What is there wanting, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Saviour?"

What a picture of Christ! Does it not make you want to press into Christ, to know him better? Truly, there is no sacrifice we could make that isn't worth it, if we can only know him better. As the Apostle Paul said, "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ."-Phil 3. 

And if you do not know him, as Edwards says, could you imagine a greater Saviour?

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."- 1 John 1:8-9

"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9

July 08, 2010

Like Wheat in Full Ears

"Also, truths are often delivered to us, like wheat in full ears, to the end we should rub them out before we eat them, and take pains about them, before we have the comfort of them." - John Bunyan, All Loves Excelling

April 07, 2010

Legs are Great

I am glad I have legs, too. Although...mine are real :)

April 06, 2010

If you need a laugh...

I was going over paper guidelines I have to follow for a class, when I came across these instructions:

A former colleague of mine, David Allen Black, offered these reminders for papers:
    • Always avoid alliteration.
    • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
    • Avoid clichés like the plague.
    • Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
    • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
    • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
    • Foreign words and phrases are hardly apropos.
    • Never generalize.
    • Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
    • Don't be redundant or use more words than necessary: it's highly superfluous.
    • Be more or less specific.
    • One-word sentences? Eliminate.
    • The passive voice is to be avoided.
    • Even if a metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
    • Who needs rhetorical questions?
    • Employ the vernacular.
    • Analogies are like feathers on a snake.
    • Contractions aren't proper.
    • Eliminate quotations: as Emerson once said, "I have quotations."
    • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

March 14, 2010

A Four Year-old's Hymn

I help with the four/five year-olds choir at church and tonight they sang "Footsteps of Jesus" at the beginning of the service. We all had to be there 45 minutes early to practice lining up on stage and standing still (and it really does take 45 minutes to practice this with 20 four and five year olds).

Shortly after I got there, one of the first little girls to arrive asked me if she could sing me "her song."

"Of course!" I told her.

She then, at the top of her lungs, sang the chorus to "Footsteps of Jesus" for me.

The chorus traditionally goes:
Footsteps of Jesus
Make the pathway glow
I will follow the steps of Jesus
Where ere they go

Her version went like this:
The Prince of Egypt
Makes the pathways glow
I will follow the steps of Jesus
Where ere they go

Priceless. And I could do absolutely nothing to convince her that she had the words wrong.

After calling my dad and telling him the story, he told me that when he was little he used to sing,

Would you be free from the bird in the tree?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood!

instead of

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood!

All I can say is that kids are fantastic.

March 02, 2010

Foot in Your Mouth?

Today, after picking a certain four year-old up from school, I overheard a conversation between said four year-old and her doll (obviously given speech by her imaginative owner). I hope you enjoy my recollection of their dialogue as much as I enjoyed it at the time.

Doll: Hi!
4 yr old: Hey! You can't talk!
Doll: Yes, I can!
4 yr old: No, you can't!
Doll: Yes, I can!
4 yr old: No, you can't!
Doll: Oh yeah, you're right, I can't...because I'm eating my feet.

February 28, 2010

A Cup of Tea: The Importance of Meditating on Scripture

I love Scripture. I also love tea. Therefore, this analogy really stuck out to me. It's one thing to be disciplined enough to read Scripture every day. It's even more difficult to remember what you read, even just an hour later.

In one of my classes we have been learning about meditation. It's been fantastic. My prof pointed out that most people, when reading Scripture, spend about 2 seconds thinking about each verse they read. Think about that. 2 seconds. No wonder we can't remember what we read an hour later. 2 seconds is nothing. It's like a blink. Or how long it takes to pick out the shoes you are gonna wear with your outfit. Or how long it takes to roll out of bed. Well, you get the idea.

That's all the time we spend on a verse of Scripture? He has been teaching us to meditate. In other words, to take a verse and think about it for at least 30 seconds. There are tons of ways to do this. Here are a few:

1. Pray through the verse.
2. Ask the question, "What does this verse say about the character of God?"
3. Rewrite the verse in your own words.
4. Look for personal applications of the verse.

It might take awhile to do this with all the verses in a chapter of the Bible. So if you read a chapter, just pick one verse to meditate on. It's brilliant - because if we think about the verse even for thirty seconds, then that's FIFTEEN times longer than we would have thought about it to begin with. If we can just remember one phrase from what we read every day, I think we will be amazed at how Scripture really will become alive to us.

So, here is that tea quote I mentioned earlier from a book written by my professor:

"...meditation [is] deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer. Meditation goes beyond hearing, reading, studying, and even memorizing as a means of taking in God's Word. A simple analogy would be a cup of tea. You are the cup of hot water and the intake of Scripture is represented by the tea bag. Hearing God's Word is like one dip of the tea bag into the cup. Some of the tea's flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would occur with a more thorough soaking of the bag. In this analogy, reading, studying, and memorizing God's Word are represented by additional plunges of the tea bad into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water, the more effect it has. Meditation, however, is like immersing the tea bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the water is thoroughly tinctured reddish brown."

- Dr. Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

January 25, 2010

An Additional Thought...(to be read after the previous blog)

I am reading a little C.S. Lewis right now, and he mentions the exact thing I blogged about earlier when I said that my hill of difficulty (and I think it is the same for probably many American Christians) is giving of my wealth sacrificially in obedience to Scripture. (I would also mention that I love how God repeatedly drives a point home from various sources so that we are sure not to miss it.)

C.S. Lewis writes:
"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid that the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch us or hamper us, I should say they are too small." - Mere Christianity, 86

The Hill of Difficulty

I've been reading Pilgrims Progress, and there is a point in the story where Christian comes upon a hill of difficulty. He was told earlier by Evangelist that the only way to the Celestial Gate (heaven's entrance) was to follow the straight and narrow road. He is walking with two people he met along the way - Formalist and Hypocrisie - when they came upon the hill. As they stood and looked at it, the steepness and darkness of the hill intimidated them. Hypocrosie and Formalist decided to walk a different path around the hill because they did not want to suffer or be uncomfortable in their journey. Christian, however, says this:

This hill, tho high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend:
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come, pluck up, heart; lets neither faint nor fear:
Better, tho difficult, th' right way to go,
Then wrong, though easie, where the end is wo.

These words penned by Paul Bunyan have been repeating in my head since I read this. It captures what should be the attitude of a Christian. Regardless of difficulty and bleak circumstances the Christian should be eager to follow Christ because he knows his eternity will be worth "momentary afflictions."

In comparison to most of the people in the world, we, in America, hardly (if ever) truly face real affliction. I have been trying to figure out what the hill of difficulty could represent in my life. I think I have come to a conclusion on what one hill could be: material sacrifice. I have so much wealth in food, clothes, education, and stuff, that it is easy to forget I don't really need most of what I have. I could survive eating half the food I eat in one day and owning a tenth of the clothes that I own (maybe less). The whole thing I am getting at is that it's easy to avoid the hill of difficulty by just getting more and more stuff, instead giving that money I would spend on me to others who really need it: orphans, homeless, those suffering disaster (like Haiti).

Am I willing to forgo some of my needs in a sacrificial way so that I may show love to those who are really in need with the hope that they would hear the gospel and be eternally saved? Difficult? Yes...but as Christian says,

This hill, tho high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend:
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come, pluck up, heart; lets neither faint nor fear:
Better, tho difficult, th' right way to go,
Then wrong, though easie, where the end is wo.

And as Scripture says,

" Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." - Matthew 6:19-20

"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days...You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." - James 5:1-3, 5

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be hold in all your conduct." - 1 Peter 1:13-14

"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when the speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
- 1 Peter 2:11-12

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as your share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed...Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." - 1 Peter 4:12-13, 19

May God give us the grace to walk unhindered by wealth along the straight and narrow in pursuit of Godliness as we willingly and joyfully partake in the sufferings of Christ.