Monthly Archives: December 2013

Light into Darkness

I find myself needing the sacred seasons and holy days of our Church more each year. As the storm clouds seem to be gathering on the horizon, it is more important than ever to set aside these special times to reflect on that which God has done throughout history and will do at the end of all things. What follows is a poetic meditation on the advent.

In this world of rock and dust,
As time moves on in relentless procession,
The sensation is often inescapable,
That the days are darkening and the water rising.

Often we are forced to watch unfold around us,
Events of deep despair,
When children starve and violence spreads,
And hate appears the victor.

All around we look and see,
Undeserved pain,
Unforeseen trials,
And our own inability to stand in the face of the flood.

Despair creeps in,
The tears run down,
Our hearts are slowly breaking,
And we weep for our broken world.

Is there are hope for love in a loveless world?
Or for joy in a world of despair?
When great evil seems to reign,
Is there any hope for good?

Yet my soul remember,
As the sacred season comes,
Through ritual and sacred ceremony force your mind to this,
The reign of evil is but a farce and good has conquered yet.

For when the darkness of sin seemed at its peak,
And our world was a swirling vortex of misery and despair,
The light struck the darkness like a lighting bolt,
In the form of a sacred infant.

Seemingly helpless,
Seemingly weak,
But Lord of all the earth,
Darkness trembled at His birth.

Born to die,
That we might live,
To be like Him in our lives and deeds,
Our lives remade by nail scarred hands.

Light in darkness,
God in flesh,
Hope stronger than despair,
The author of all created things has come to dwell among us.

He has come and He is coming,
The work is begun and will be finished,
Evil is already defeated,
And will soon be no more than a memory.

So strengthen trembling hands,
And still shaking knees,
Fear not the darkness,
For in your faith it fears you.

Rise up in broken victory,
And be a bolt of bright light,
In a world of deadly darkness,
In the pattern of the Master.

Take heart this sacred season,
Remember the hope you have,
Ours is not only the Creator God,
But also the Savior.

This is a time to reflect on that which is real,
In a world of illusion and farce,
For truth and justice do reign ,
In Jesus Christ the babe of Bethlehem and Savior of the world.

We need this time of sacred remembrance,
In dark days more than ever,
But the light has overcome the darkness,
So let us remember and rejoice!

Marriage as a Sacrament

These thoughts are the results of over 5 years married to the most gracious, wonderful, and beautiful woman I have ever known.

The Roman Catholics maintain seven sacraments; most Protestants have only two, which they don’t really take very seriously. While I’m not prepared to embrace the full Roman Catholic understanding, I definitely believe we need to go back to viewing marriage more sacramentally.

In the most classical Christian understanding, the sacraments are means of grace for mankind. It is faith in Christ Jesus our Lord which ultimately saves, but the sacraments empower and enrich the sanctification part of our salvation. Thus Baptism and Eucharist are not simply symbolic rituals but actually have real power for the believer who par takes of them, and according to St Paul real danger to those who partake apart from faith and righteousness before a Holy God.

While marriage may not be an ordained sacrament in Scripture, it is certainly an ordained action for our well being. All of the use of marriage as metaphor in the Word illustrates just how highly marriage ought to be viewed by those who follow Christ. That marriage is an important aspect of our sanctification and growth in the knowledge of God can be easily illustrated. This doesn’t mean marriage is ordained for everyone, but it does mean that to those who. It is given it should be taken very seriously. In a society that under values marriage, as a the Church of Jesus Christ we need to restore a proper understanding of its sacred significance. What follows is a list of the ways that marriage has been sacramental in my life, 5 years from now and no doubt I will have even more thoughts on the subject.

Marriage reveals how self-centered and petty we are. In premarital counseling, the difficulty of the first year of marriage is often a subject of discussion. Many married couples can look back to the first year and the trials they overcame together. The reason behind this is our own self-centeredness. Living together in a covenant relationship draws out our selfish tendencies so the Holy Spirit can purge us of them. This becomes painfully clear when we are quick to anger over the smallest of household operations. What it really boils down to is that we just want our own way that bad. The marriage relationship draws this selfishness to our attention in areas we couldn’t even see it before.

Marriage demonstrates the importance of covenant and unconditional love. Only in a firm commitment to love one another until death does marriages true teaching about unconditional love and covenant relationship hit home. When we find it easy to love, or to accept love this lesson is lost. When, ontheotherhand, love is painfully difficult or we find ourself feeling completely unworthy of love, the message of God’s love begins to dawn on us. When for the first time you receive love from your husband or wife while still behaving in a way you know is completely unworthy of that love, the cross stands in the background with new meaning. When we come to the full realization that no matter how bad things get, our love for each other isn’t going anywhere, God’s unchanging love becomes more real than ever before.

Marriage is an important part of our sanctification. As I mentioned above marriage often puts a spot light on issues we didn’t realize we had. This becomes a key part of the process of sanctification in our lives. A godly spouse becomes our primary source of accountability, and because they see us at our worst our spouses cannot be tricked by the pious show we often put on for others. When we allow our marriage to bring sin in our lives to mind, and then walk through repentance together, we overcome issues we likely would have missed on our own.

Marriage points out areas of unforgiveness and unhealed hurt in our lives . It is always interesting how previous pain and heartache can impact a marriage. Often actual arguments ensue simply because something was said that touched a sore spot. After some reflection and personal growth, it becomes clear that the marriage isn’t the problem. Instead previously unhealed areas or areas where hurt someone else did is still unforgiven must be addressed for the happiness of the home. This healing and forgiveness process is not always pleasant and that is why, when given the choice, we shy away from it. In marriage we quickly realize how much harm we are doing to ourselves and others by hanging on to the past and are forced to confront our own heartache, God is then able to step and heal our broken hearts.

There is a great deal more that could be said on all the different ways that marriage is sanctifying and sacramental, but the point remains the same. God has established marriage for our well being and help, we should treat it with reverence and allow it to do its good and healing work in our lives.

The Image and the Likeness

A meditation during Advent

Made from the dust of the earth,
God breathed life into the man,
And there arose our ancient forefather,
Adam, father of us all.
Firstborn of mankind,
Crowning jewel of creation now complete,
Made in the very image of God,
And walking daily in His presence.
Endowed with authority over all Creation,
Blessed with mind and might.

Would that the story ended there father Adam,
For now the image is broken,
The presence taken away,
And the power and might turned toward harm,
The presence that brought you life,
You no more may see,
And the image in you becomes corrupt, unclean.
Deceived and deceiving you fell away,
Pulled down by false desires conceived in your own pride,
Destroyed by thine own hand.

Now the image of God in our young race,
Is broken and almost lost,
Shining through but from time to time,
In a world whose hope is gone,
Violence grows,
And darkness rages,
As our race despairs,
We see not the image,
Still planted though broken in each heart,
And turn away blind and broken.

Yet through it all the rumors spread,
Of a coming King,
A new Father,
A Prince of Peace,
One who will bring us life,
And restore our hope,
The renewer of the Image,
Hands that heal,
What will our healer look like?
When will He arrive?

Only begotten of the Father,
Firstborn of all things,
Creator of heaven and earth,
All hail The Lord Jesus,
Descended to our broken world,
Born in a backwater town in a backwater nation,
In image like one of us,
But in Likeness God Himself,
Lying vulnerable in a cattle trough,
And come to die that we might live.

His hands are healing,
Yet they are pierced,
We must look on the one whose stripes heal us,
The King of all Creation came,
And we killed Him on a tree,
The broken Image could not stand before the Likeness,
And we walked instead in the violence we knew so well,
Yet see how he conquered our hearts,
For even in weakness and death,
The Likeness conquers over our darkness.

The barrier to the Father removed,
By the atoning death of the Son,
That Likeness was placed inside our chests,
In the person of the Spirit,
Restoring the Image anew,
Beyond even father Adam’s first condition,
We become something new,
Redeemed men indwelt by the Savior God,
Bearers now of the Likeness,
The Image now being restored.

So let the Likeness reign in your heart,
By walking with the Spirit,
And become this Advent season,
That which our Savior was,
On the day of His advent,
Bring in your person the Likeness of God,
To a world where the broken Image is still all many men have,
In a world of know hope,
Release the Likeness to its good work,
And leave the Spirit to heal the rest.

Monsters in the dark?

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of things we sometimes tell our kids. It’s so tempting when your toddler wakes up frightened to simply tell them monsters are not real. The truth however, is that monsters ARE REAL. Whether they be faceless corporations that abuse people and the planet, individuals in positions of greater or less power who maim and kill with no remorse, wicked behaviors like hatred, malice, violence, and prejudice; or spiritual forces of Hell, the reality is that monsters are real.

Certainly we want our children sheltered from certain realities until they are of an appropriate age to process them properly. I’m not suggesting we brief our toddlers on gender selective abortion or the global sex trafficking trade; but we do want them to stand in the face of evil rather than being shocked and dismayed at its very existence.

This education begins at the earliest ages possible. Our kids don’t need to be lied to and taught there are no monsters, they must be taught to embrace the greater truth that a good and sovereign God rules the universe. They need to know that on His side they can be personally responsible for destroying monsters and freeing prisoners.

As G.K. Chesterton said, children don’t need fairy tales to know that dragons are real, they already know that. Fairy tales teach children that dragons can be killed.