Merry Christmas

25 12 2008

On this glorious Christmas day, I hope these words of prayer and reflection resonate with your heart.
May you have a wonderful and worship time with family and friends, rejoicing in our Lord who stepped so low to rescue us and raise us up to him!

“My heart melts at the love of Jesus,
my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,
married to me, dead for me, risen for me;
He is mine and I am his,
given to me as well as for me;
I am never so much mine as when I am his,
or so much lost to myself until lost in him;
then I find my true manhood.

But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;
Let his love warm me,
lighten my burden,
be my heaven;
May it be more revealed to me in all its influences
that my love to him may be more fervent and glowing;
Let the mighty tide of his everlasting love
cover the rocks of my sin and care;
Then let my spirit float above those things
which had else wrecked my life.

Make me fruitful by living to that love,
my character becoming more beautiful every day.
If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me,
may he work on with his divine brush
until the complete image be obtained
and I be made a perfect copy of him,
my Master.”

from “The Love of Jesus” in The Valley of Vision

Thank you, Jesus.





When Sinners Say “I Do”

15 07 2008

Do you ever think about what makes your marriage a “Christian” marriage?  Is it the fact that we go to church, pray, or read our Bible together with our spouse?  Is it because of the couples retreats we’ve been to or that, as husbands, we’re trying to lead our families, or, as wives, you’re trying to submit to your husband’s leadership? Could a couple still do all of those things and yet fail to have a truly “Christian” marriage?

Yes.

A theme that resounds through Dave Harvey’s new book on marriage, When Sinner Say “I Do”, is that the heart of a truly “Christian” marriage is found in its commitment to the Gospel.  A marriage built on the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be a “Christian” marriage.  A relationship in which the Gospel is worked out and worked through is a relationship that manifests and embraces Christ.  A marriage like that is a marriage that is truly “Christ-ian,” one that reveals and glorifies Him.

But what does it look like to have a marriage saturated with the Gospel?  Does that mean you exchange tracts instead of greeting cards on Valentines Day?  Does it mean romantic evenings at Billy Graham Crusades or taking your wife out for a leisurely evening of door-to-door witnessing?

As enticing as that all sounds, Harvey’s book paints a far different (and more powerful) picture of a Gospel saturated marriage.  A marriage that clings to the Gospel is a relationship in which sin is acknowledged, mercy and forgiveness are embraced, and Christ’s work on the Cross becomes the defining center for all of a couple’s actions and attitudes.  And this beautiful picture is unfolded and dissected in the pages of When Sinners Say “I Do”.

In its opening salvo, this book veers off the course traveled by so many marriage books you might find at the Christian book store and it really dives into the heart of the issue. Harvey lays his foundation with this phrase: “What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage.”  When you really think about it, that statement is as profound as it is simple.  Too many of us think that the key to a great marriage is having our needs met or clearly understanding our roles.  When Sinners Say “I Do” explains that what really unlocks things between a husband and wife is a right view of God, one that confesses that “I am the worst sinner I know,” understands that I daily experience overwhelming grace from God, and embraces my marriage relationship as a wonderful opportunity for me to show to another the mercy and forgiveness that God has shown to me.

Let me give you an example of what this looks like. Read the rest of this entry »





Learning to Say “It is Well” (Part 3)

12 01 2008

HymnalI love the hymnbook.  It’s portable, it’s full of rich theology put to wonderful melody, and it comes with the sheet music included.  In it are found wonderful hidden treasure: new hymns (to me) which I get to discover and learn. 

However, the hymnal does have its down side.  Each hymnbook has an editor, someone (or a group of someones) who makes decisions about what to included and what to leave out.  Don’t get me wrong, these folks are very helpful I’m sure, but one decision they have to make that can be really frustrating is what to cut out when it comes to an individual song.  Often this results in some rich verse of a hymn being left out because it makes the hymn too long or the words might not be received well by the broader audience. 

Here are just a few examples of this happening to pretty popular hymns.  Let’s begin with Amazing Grace, the most famous of all the hymns.  Although you’ve probably heard and sung the song more times than you can remember, how familiar are you with these two verses?
Read the rest of this entry »





Shame on the Rainbow

9 01 2008

As I was reading through and reflecting on the powerful scene of Genesis 6-9, God’s establishment of the rainbow and what it represents overwhelmed me.  Here is the text that captivated me:

“God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.” (Gen 9:12-13)

God, the Mighty Warrior, has set His war bow in the clouds (put it away, as it were).  Every time it rains, His bow is made visible to us as a reminder. 
But think about what it serves to remind us. 

The Warrior’s BowIt reminds us, first, of the awesome power of God. What did the ‘war bow’ do?  It “blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23).  That is power: overwhelming and fearful power.  Since that moment in history, mighty men and great armies and technology and the forces of darkness have tried to accomplish something similar, but no one has ever come close to re-creating such a display of strength.  And it was not just power to destroy; it was power to cleanse the earth.  Noah and his family emerged to a world washed clean.

Read the rest of this entry »





Learning to Say “It is Well” (Part 2)

4 01 2008

Have you ever been trying to maneuver through the bedroom, on your way to the bathroom, in the middle of the night? Sometimes I am blessed with safe passage, but too often I end up smashing my toe (or on a few occasion my head) into some undetected obstacle.  In the midst of the darkness, the thought that dominates my thinking is “OUCH!”  My focus is instantaneously drawn to the pain.

This natural reaction holds true beyond middle-of-the-night-crashes; this is usually how we respond to other collisions in our lives.  When our happy expectations collide with an unseen tragic turn our response is often “OUCH!” and our mind rushes all attention to the source of the pain.

Horatio SpaffordThis is why Horatio Spafford’s words, recorded in his rich hymn, are so wondrously puzzling.  He writes,
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is Well, it is well with my soul’.”

His call is beyond the “grin-and-bear-it” aproach to a smarting toe; this is something entirely “other worldly.”  He says “whatever my lot,” and he was a man who knew about getting a bad lot (see part 1 of this article for Spafford’s story.) So, how do we get there?  How did Horatio get there?  After loosing his wealth and his family how could he still say “it is well with my soul?” This is the question I raised in part 1 of this series and today we’ll begin working through the testimony Horatio left us in his hymn, uncovering the bountiful grace that held him fast through the crashing waves of tragedy.
Read the rest of this entry »





When You Think of the Babe in the Manger…

24 12 2007

… don’t forget:

“These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and spoke of Him.”
John 12:41 

 “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.  Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’  And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.  Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'”
Isaiah 6:1-5

Worshipful Christmas!